Christopher Narozny earned an M.F.A in fiction from Syracuse University and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Denver. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in American Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Marginalia, elimae, and Hobart. While at Syracuse, he won the Peter Neagoe Prize for Fiction, and at the University of Denver, he was awarded the Frankel Dissertation Fellowship for an earlier draft of Jonah Man. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.
An excerpt from Jonah Man appears in Issue Thirty-Four of The Collagist.
Here, Christopher Narozny answers questions "in the form of excerpts"--with further excerpts from Jonah Man.
1. What is writing like?
I take up the pad, flip through the pages. Each page is drawn over with the outline of a man’s suit. I’ve filled the torsos with circles, stars, squares—the circles standing in for sapphires, the stars for rhinestones, the squares for rubies. On one suit I’ve drawn circle-studded stripes down each sleeve, on another I’ve dotted the arms with squares and stars. I’ve penciled in rhinestone collars, ruby collars, mixed collars. Some of the torsos I’ve covered with distinct shapes—the bulb and stem of a rose over each breast pocket; stick-figure fish swimming vertically, horizontally; small birds in various stages of flight. Others I’ve filled with patterns—checkered rhinestones, wavy lines of sapphires, ruby pinstripes.
I turn through the pages, pencil in hand, erase a half-circle of squares from one torso, add a line of stars to another. With each addition or deletion I imagine the changing pattern of light. I close my eyes, place myself in the audience, squint at the reflection from the front row, the back row.
2. What isn’t writing like?
The trombone would play notes that sounded like falling, but I never fell.
3. When you do it, why?
Anything he managed to do, he managed to do despite something fundamental in himself, something he couldn’t name but had spent his life disguising. A compulsion to be great. A conviction that he wasn’t up to the task.
4. When you don’t, why?
Wherever his mind lands, he discovers a hope and contentment he did not experience at the time. He sees his life not as he always thought of it—as progression and regression, movement toward and away from a target—but as modulating textures composed of noise, scenery, weather.