Like a Polaroid snapshot, this finely wrought collection of short stories gives us a brief glimpse into the quirky and complex lives of rural town inhabitants. As the characters struggle to define their individuality and reconcile their ideals with ordinary life, we are witness to their unique self-discoveries. At times mournful and haunting, this story collection celebrates the nobility of simple life, of striving and failing without ever losing hope.
Honest, original and absolutely engaging, Treichel shares glimpses into life and all that it is made up of. The stories are beautiful, dark and, at times, haunting. These are stories that will stay with you after the book is closed. 4 stars!
Eliot Treichel is the author of the story collection Close Is Fine. A native of Wisconsin, Eliot now lives in Eugene, Oregon, where he teaches writing at Lane Community College. His work has appeared in Narrative, Beloit Fiction Journal, CutBank, and Passages North, as well as Canoe & Kayak and Paddler magazines. Close Is Fine is his first book.
Q. What inspires your writing?
A. I am most often inspired by images—images from life, from travel, from stories. Writing consists of me trying to then string these images together into some kind of narrative. In the case of Close Is Fine, these images where specifically tied to a real place, the Upper Wolf River in Wisconsin.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being an author?
A. My favorite part of being a writer is that it gives you a certain kind of permission to live. If I’m curious about something, or want to understand something better, I can write about it. I can call up experts and interview them, or go travel to their workplaces. My world enlarges. I don’t know that it’s the same if you’re an accountant. Of course, in reality, anyone can do these things—can research, explore, document. It’s just that being an author lends these activities a kind of credibility, a kind of access.
Q. What is the toughest part of being an author?
A. I don’t know that I can separate out the different parts. Maybe the toughest part is just the fact that writing is akin to a marathon, or perhaps even an ultra-marathon, and we live in an impatient, instantaneous world. Plus, I think I’m developing a bum knee.
Q. If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
A. I would just be someone who writes books, or someone trying to write books. And my pace would probably be even slower than it already is.
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. Something that I once saw on a billboard in northern Wisconsin: Cheese, Gifts, Beer.
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
A. There are several books that I could put here. I often answer this question differently, depending on my mood or what I’ve been thinking about recently. Sometimes I say Caught Inside by Daniel Duane, which is this great book about surfing and sense of place. Sometimes it’s Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson. But I think the truest answer is actually Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.
Q. Which character from your book are you most like?
A. The characters in Close Is Fine are part me, part people I know, and part imagination. I’m not unlike many of the characters, not really. I guess I just hope that I’m most like them when they’re living up to their best selves, rather than some of their more bone-headed moments, though I know that probably isn’t always the case.
Q. Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. See above: Tropic of Cancer.
Q. What is your favorite season?
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. The talented staff at OoliganPress designed the cover. It turned out beautifully. It’s based off a photo I showed them, a photo I just absolutely love for some reason. Deer become a character in the book, at least in the title story. And the image really speaks to the kind of landscape the stories in Close Is Fine occupy. The physical cover also has this really interesting finish on it. It’s soft, yet the colors and clarity are absolutely sharp. I’ve found myself (and I’ve noticed others doing this as well) petting it.
Q. Are you working on something new?
A. I am working on a young adult novel, or at least what I think is a young adult novel. It’s an adventure story, mostly. But it’s also about fathers and daughters, rivers, grief, and high school.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. Thanks for reading, for being a reader, for being a supporter of books. You can visit my website at http://www.eliottreichel.com. Close Is Fine also has a Facebook page.