Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Michael Kardos

Michael Kardos is the author of the novel The Three-Day Affair, which Esquire named a best book of 2012, and the story collection One Last Good Time, which won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award.

His new book is The Art and Craft of Fiction: A Writer's Guide.

Some time ago I asked Kardos about what he was reading. His reply:
I’ve just started reading Kevin Powers’s debut novel The Yellow Birds for three reasons: 1) Some of my favorite works of fiction are military-focused (Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-5, Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead come immediately to mind). Something fascinating happens, I believe, with interpersonal relationships when they are both highly regimented and especially urgent. 2) The reviews have been so across-the-board strong; and 3) It has one of the best first sentences I’ve read in a long time: “The war tried to kill us in the spring.”

I just finished reading Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss, the 2001 memoir co-written by Steven and Frederick Barthelme about the years in which they gambled away their parents’ inheritance—hundreds of thousands of dollars—in the casinos in Biloxi, Mississippi. It’s a memoir about the lore and love of gambling, about addiction and mortality and coming-of-age long after you already ought to have come of age. I was especially interested in the ways in which the authors lay out their story with neither self-pity nor defensiveness, gracefully leading the reader to a place of understanding without our having to approve or even sympathize.

I also recently finished Pete Dexter’s 1986 novel Deadwood. Published nearly two decades before the HBO series aired, I nonetheless couldn’t avoid imagining the show’s actors as I read, despite many of the characters in the novel having very different personalities from in the series. (This, I understand, might be a failure of my own imagination. Still: You try not picturing Ian McShane as Al Swearengen or Keith Carradine as Wild Bill Hickock.) The novel centers around Charlie Utter’s time in Deadwood and threw me right into that anarchic town in 1876, where every ceiling is riddled with bullet holes and every sneeze is the first sign of either smallpox or syphilis.

On the horizon: The Next Time You See Me, by Holly Goddard Jones (I loved her stories. This is her debut novel); Red Moon by Benjamin Percy (I’m hoping that great writer + werewolves = great werewolf novel); and Hell or High Water, by Joy Castro (psychological thriller set in New Orleans)
Visit Michael Kardos's website.

Writers Read: Michael Kardos.

The Page 69 Test: The Three Day Affair.

My Book, The Movie: The Three-Day Affair.

--Marshal Zeringue