Joseph Riippi is author most recently of A Cloth House (Housefire Publishing, 2012) and Treesisters (Greying Ghost Press, 2012). His other books include The Orange Suitcase (2011) and Do Something! Do Something! Do Something! (2009), both from Ampersand Books. He lives with his wife in New York City. Say hello:www.josephriippi.com.
An excerpt from A Cloth House appears in Issue Thirty-Three of the Collagist.
Here, Riippi answers questions in-the-form-of-excerpts--with further excerpts from A Cloth House. Enjoy!
1. What is writing like?
Scientists say a person remembers moments better when they hurt, when there is pain, because of the way the brain works, associatively. You remember not to touch an oven after touching it once. A dog learns not to pee in the house because its owner will scold and drag her outside by the collar. Harsh tones and dragging hurt. (p 80)
2. What isn’t writing like?
Something to pass the time. (p 88)
3. When you do it, why?
Our mother is dead and there are so many stories she never told. Not full, never finished. Maybe she never meant to. Whether or not she believed she had done sufficient things in life so that it could be considered worth something, for instance, I do not know for sure. I would like to think she believed she had. I work at remembering her that way, if only because a mother deserves to be honored by her children, and because it might change the way others remember her. Life in death is memory only, familiar to imagination, a dead friend not wholly unlike the imaginary friends of childhood we encounter under sheets and in daydream daze. A person can do that, you see. Can work at remembering a certain memory an uncertain way, can mold it into something new, change history, a mother’s story. It is not like the love of our father’s god, which cannot be helped or changed or forced any more than lapping waves or crisping wind. Memory is nothing like love or ocean. (p 39)
4. When you don’t, why?
Who knows why we do what we do? Who is to judge?...Maybe all of this is just bad memories changing. Maybe you were never even born…I don’t remember quite right. (p 52, 62, 86)