RUSTY TALK WITH JON PAUL FIORENTINO
ROB MCLENNAN INTERVIEWS JON PAUL FIORENTINO
rob mclennan: I thought it curious that for the Ottawa launch of your new collection of short fiction, I’m Not Scared of You or Anything, you choose to read a re-telling of one of the stories from the collection. For many writers, myself included, the work is all about the language and the precision of the finished text. Why did you choose to represent your work in such a way?
Jon Paul Fiorentino: Even when I’ve read from poetry collections, I’ve always had edits to the text in order to favour the sense of sound over what works best on the page. They are often very different things. It is perfectly okay to have more than one version of a text. I think it’s healthy. In fact, I would argue that deciding to do this was “all about the language” and “precision.” This particular story, “When It Got a Little Cold,” was rendered entirely in dialogue, sort of in the style of “An Encounter with an Interviewer” by Mark Twain. This was the right choice for the story on the page. But the right way to tell this story to a roomful of people is to look them in the eyes and just tell the story. I think telling this story that way was the correct choice and the generous choice. In this particular case, I was hoping to share not just from the book but also from my life. And I like telling stories. As we all know, shuffling your feet, burying your head in a book, and just reading what’s on the page is not always the best policy. At one point in the reading, two lovely older folks came into the room and I was able to incorporate them into the piece. The result was funny, warm, and inviting. That’s the kind of thing that’s possible when you are telling a version of a story that’s conversational and interactive but also remains true to the original text.