Rookie Report: Stevan Allred
A Simplified Map of the Real World
Forest Avenue Press
He was a logger, a farmer, a trader, a schemer, and a loud-mouthed, cocksure, bourbon-swilling barnyard bully of a man used to getting his own way. He could out-work, out-think, and out-fight damn near anybody he ever ran up against. He scared the bejesus out of me, and so far as I can tell, the only thing I ever did to provoke his constant ire was to be born different from him, different from Michael Jr., different from the foreordained predisposition of his genetic imprint.
We put him in the ground this morning. I don’t know whether to bring flowers or wear dancing shoes when I visit his grave, for neither fits the state of mind his death leaves me in. You cannot grieve for a puzzle, nor celebrate the death of a cipher. You have to make some sense out of the man first.
—an excerpt from “The Painted Man”
Late Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.
Stevan Allred: It’s like Olive Kitteridge, but with more divorce.
LNL: If this book were the lovechild of two others, who are its parents?
SA: Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days and Alice Munro’s Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
LNL: What ingredients go into the recipe of your writing style?
SA: On a bed of silence, layer
– headlights shining through an early morning fog
– a flight of geese
– a middle-aged married couple glaring at each other in front of their shared closet
– bumper cars
– too much pride and too little forgiveness
– the hope that this time, love will endure
Drizzle oil of conflict over all ingredients
Salt to taste with poor impulse control
Bake at low heat for approximately six weeks, then broil until top layer is golden brown
Garnish with your favorite aunt’s sliced dill pickles
LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.
SA: Frank Herbert’s Dune
LNL: Answer a question you wish people would ask you about writing.
If I were a font, I would be American Typewriter. I learned how to type when I was a boy on an Underwood, one my mom used to type my dad’s papers when he was in college. I like to think of myself as the keys of an old Underwood Portable, with Faulkner or Kerouac or Harper Lee, their fingers on the letters, typing away.
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Stevan Allred lives and writes in a house in the woods halfway between Fisher’s Mill and Viola, in rural Clackamas County, outside of Portland, Oregon. He is the editor of Dixon Ticonderoga, a zine that explores the intimate relationship between divorce and pencils. He teaches writing at The Pinewood Table and has been widely published in literary magazines. A Simplified Map of the Real World, published by Forest Avenue Press, is his debut.