Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Peter Mountford

Peter Mountford's short fiction has appeared in Best New American Voices 2008, Conjunctions, The Normal School, Michigan Quarterly Review, Seattle Review, Phoebe, and Boston Review, where he won second place in the 2007 contest, judged by George Saunders.

His new novel is A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism.

At the start of May I asked Mountford what he was reading. His reply:
I’m reading student stories. A lot of student stories. 180 stories, to be precise. I am a WITS writer (Writers in the Schools, which is a wonderful program that’s in many cities around the country; it puts professional writers into schools to teach and mentor students in creative writing). In Seattle, it’s arranged by Seattle Arts and Lectures. So, every semester I spend about ten days teaching a fiction-writing class to 9th graders at Shorecrest High School. Toward the end of the semester all 180 students turn in a 5-page story. Hence the phone-book-thick stack of papers that I’m working my way-through. The stories are very good this time, and I’d like to take credit for that, although I’m 99% sure it’s their teachers’ doing.

Next up, I’m reading or re-reading books about or set in Sri Lanka, because that’s where the next novel I’m writing is set. So I’m re-reading Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje and A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman. I have a few other books lined up, and I’m going hunting for other texts. Looking forward to reading maybe ten or fifteen books set in Sri Lanka this summer while I start drafting. This is the funnest part of writing a novel, I’ve found, when you’re just reading a lot and writing whatever pops into your head. It’s very playful.

Otherwise, I’m keeping Alexi Zentner’s incredible debut Touch on the bedside table, although I already recently read it. It’s just a gorgeous book, set in the wilds of Canada, it’s got some magical realism but isn’t silly. It has basically nothing in common with what I’m doing, and maybe that’s why I love it so much. I just like to watch Zentner do his thing, page by page, line by line. As a writer, it’s a lot of fun to read excellently done fiction, of course, just to sort of sit there and admire the choices that a striking talent makes.
View a trailer for the novel, and learn more about the book and author at Peter Mountford's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism.

--Marshal Zeringue