I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Vaughan in NYC a few years back through the networker extraordinaire Bud Smith, and I've been a fan of Robert's work ever since. I'm delighted Robert found the time to stop by
HCR during his many travels for this
(James Duncan): Your book Funhouse was
recently listed in the New York Review of Books. Tell us a little about how
Funhouse came to be, and your inspiration behind the stories within. Camp Review
Robert Vaughan: Overall, the FUNHOUSE theme was a nod to my love of carnivals, fairs, marching bands, and all of the glitterati that constitutes American small town folklore, and the book is a collection in four different sections. The second and third “movements” were both projects that independently started about five to six years ago. The “Hall of Mirrors” (kids in a classroom) were loosely based on a book that made a distinct impression on me when I was a kid: The Gashleycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. I also had the unique fortune of working with illustrator/ artist Bob Schofield who created exquisite renderings of each kid. The third section, “Tunnel of Love: DIVAS” was a nod to the female songstresses with whom I’ve been most smitten. I love lyrics, and in the “Notes” of Funhouse I explain how this project came to be, thanks to genius Joseph Quintela. Writer/ artist Eryk Wenziak then did the entire layout of each prose poem. The first section of the book, “Balloon Darts” are my newest flash fiction, or compressed stories, and the last or fourth section, “Ferris Wheel,” are more traditional short stories.
RV: I agree wholeheartedly that flash seems to be connected to poetry, and even more so, prose poetry. There are two great collections called The Field Guide to Prose Poetry and The Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction (Rose Metal Press) that illustrate how close these two genres are: step-siblings, or kissing cousins. Also I teach week long workshops based on “bending genres” or drawing from diverse genres (poetry, fiction, memoir, essay) and deciding what to incorporate into any written piece. There are so many contemporary writers already doing this in unique ways: Maggie Nelson, Sarah Manguso, Brian Blanchfield, Meg Tuite, Scott McClanahan, Len Kuntz. Too many more to list! I like to say that genres are important for bookstores, not for writers!
RV: I loved The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan. Also, The Trip To Echo Spring by Olivia Laing. And I am currently enjoying Sherman Alexie’s memoir, You Don’t Have To Say You
I can’t wait to dive into Bud
Smith’s new CCM book, Work. Also, Marie Howe’s poetry collection, Magdalene. Love Me.
RV: Rules are made to be broken. I think it is self-explanatory.
RV: I’m working on a new project that is in the realm of poetry- memoir. I’m excited to take a course on exactly this topic at Omega, and respect the teacher, Nick Flynn, who’s collection, Some Ether, is among my favorites.
RV: William Burroughs- because he is simply a badass and murderer. Joni Mitchell- to talk over her lyrical, poetic songs, collections like Blue and Court and Spark. And Miranda July, so I can pick her quirky brain about how she gets her inspiration and ideas.
Robert Vaughan teaches workshops in hybrid writing, poetry, fiction at locations like UWM, Red Oak Writing, The Clearing, Synergia Ranch and Mabel Dodge Luhan House. He leads roundtables in
. He was a finalist for the Gertrude
Stein Award for Fiction (2013, 2014). He was the head judge for the Bath
International Flash Fiction Awards, 2016. His short fiction, ‘A Box’ was
selected for Best Small Fictions 2016 (Queen’s Ferry Press).
He is the Managing Editor at (b)OINK. Milwaukee, WI