This is one in a series of extremely not-long interviews with participants in the Commonwealth Reading Series.
Tracy Winn, author of the soon-to-be released story collection Mrs. Somebody Somebody, reads at Porter Square Books in Cambridge on February 5, at 7 PM.
You may remember Tracy for the fascinating Three Stages piece she wrote for us, a few months back. Now, she has the same candor and terrific humor, just with less screen space.
MCC: What writer do you most admire but write nothing like?
Tracy: I get crushes on writers and I never know whether the infatuation is going to last. Right now, I’m a big fan of Nicole Krauss. I think she’s a keeper. She writes funny and terribly sad paragraphs like this one: “I decided to make a list of all the people I knew who were alive in case I was forgetting someone. I busied myself looking for paper and pencil. Then I sat down, smoothed down the page, and brought the nib to meet it. But. My mind drew a blank.”
MCC: Do you secretly dream of being a) a pop icon b) an algebra teacher, and/or c) a crimesolver/writer a la Jessica Fletcher?
Tracy: None of the above. I have always secretly wanted to be a big bosomy blues singer with a laugh that wraps its arms around you a whiskey-voiced mama who is at home in smoky bars where the drummer’s whisk keeps on whisking til it’s time for coffee and eggs. (A pretty hopeless dream for a scrawny Yankee asthmatic.)
Were President Obama to appoint a cabinet post in the arts, whom should he appoint as Secretary?
Tracy: That would be my friend and fellow 2008 Artist Fellow, Poet Patrick Donnelly, who is qualified by his deep knowledge and appreciation for written, visual, and performing arts, and also because he is always the tallest person in the room. We need an arts czar who can’t be overlooked.
MCC: How many revisions does your work typically go through?
Tracy: I chose this one because it is the most embarrassing question you’ve asked. I revise my stories every time I look at them, and I have to look at them often to make sure I’m still alive.
Tracy joins Steve Almond, Lisa Nold, and George Rosen for an event at Porter Square Books on Thursday, February 5, 7 PM. Event co-sponsored by Harvard Review. Read about all of the events in the Commonwealth Reading Series.
Tracy Winn’s stories have appeared in publications such as Hayden’s Ferry Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and New Orleans Review. She is the recipient of grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Trust, the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation, and of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Millay Colony. She works with Gaining Ground, a local non-profit farm that grows organic produce with the help of volunteers and gives it all to local shelters and meal programs. Mrs. Somebody Somebody, linked stories set in Lowell, is forthcoming (in April 2009) from Southern Methodist University Press.
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