I have to say, I felt a little bit vindicated when reading author Lauren Groff‘s latest interview with Poets & Writers magazine (her short story collection, Florida, was released earlier this year) in which she asserts: “Florida is the biggest joke of all the states. It is the punchline to every other state’s joke.”
That statement, itself, feels like a joke to this Cleveland, Ohio native. A quick recap for the Buckeye State-uninitiated: OH is flyover country; Cleveland is the “Mistake on the Lake”; the home team Cleveland Browns’ last season went 0 and 16. (Yep, it’s a rebuilding year–again.)
The big F-L? A “bad joke?” Even if one doesn’t dream of Disney or gets heat-hives, the Sunshine State has a lot on offer. For a girl growing up in the Snowbelt of the Rust Belt? Florida sounded like heaven.
But into each heaven, some rain must fall. (Yep, bastardizing Longfellow now.) Stay with me.
Now, that’s interesting. Yep, Goff’s Florida is on my TBR. (Want to learn more before you buy? Bookish Beck has a short review of the story collection.)
But the push and pull of FL on the writer is not all the truth Groff has to offer in this insightful interview. Advice for the rest of us?
On collections: “I believe short story collections have to be an argument,” Groff says.
On being a writing mother and the “sexist enterprise” that is American parenting: “I had my husband sign a ten-year contract…It was about how we live…I’m a writer. I’m going to continue to be a writer. I will never be a full-time mother…”
On being a writer: “…if you’re the writer you have to take it [the above agreement] more seriously. It means you’re taking yourself seriously as an artist.”
So here I am, back at my desk, musing about place and writing and parenthood and balance and summer. When, you might ask, did this writing mother have time to read a magazine interview? On vacation, where these beautiful photos were taken in…
Are you conflicted about your native place or the place you call home? How does place inform your reading and writing?
*Thanks, Dad and Ryan, for the pics!