“What I wanted to do in ‘Unmoving Like
a Mighty River Stilled’ was create a consciousness more than a story. I know that
sounds rather vague and abstract. What I
mean is, I was really tired of writing stories
where ‘things happened.’ I wanted to write
a story where nothing, absolutely nothing
happened for as long as possible. Something
more like my own experience of being alive and having a day happen.
So, I don’t know how, but I began writing about this guy who is riding
in a car for most of the story, and I created the ‘drama’ (though I wasn’t
thinking ‘create drama’) almost solely in the character’s consciousness.
The big, pleasant accident here is that something does eventually ‘
happen,’ but most of what occurs in the story occurs almost wholly inside
the main character’s head. His thoughts and feelings are unceasingly
self-aware and self-concerned, yet he is also, very consciously, wanting a
way to stop these selfish reactions to the world and himself.
“Talking about this story now seems fraught with complexity and is
causing me anxiety: How do I talk about a story I’ve written that seems to
mainly be concerned with hyper-self-aware-selfishness? All I will finally
say is that this story about the climber was intriguing to me because it
revealed itself to want to find something like the inexpressible, the kind
of mysterious spaces of ordinary life that are always there but that get
forgotten—through constant analysis and thinking and reacting and
remembering—and replaced with me me me.”
Alan’s stories have appeared in or are forthcoming in the Atlantic, New
Ohio Review, the Florida Review, Ninth Letter, the Journal, Hobart, Forty
Stories from Harper Perennial and many other places. He is an associate
editor at Juked and currently lives and teaches in South Carolina.
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