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Introducing our longlisted authors: Victor Lodato

Victor Lodato cr Nancy Crampton.jpgView larger
Victor Lodato. Photograph by Nancy Crampton

Meet the authors longlisted for the 2020 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award

Introducing our longlisted authors: Victor Lodato

Victor Lodato is the author of Edgar and Lucy (St Martin’s Press, US; Head of Zeus, UK). The novel was hailed as “a riveting and exuberant ride” by the New York Times, and called “wonder-filled and magisterial” by the Chicago Tribune. His first novel, Mathilda Savitch (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, US; Fourth Estate, UK) was deemed a “best book of the year” by The Christian Science Monitor, Booklist, and The Globe and Mail, and received the PEN USA Award for Fiction. Victor is a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as the recipient of fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Camargo Foundation (France), and The Bogliasco Foundation (Italy). His short fiction and essays have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta, and Best American Short Stories. He has twice been on the shortlist for The Sunday Times Short Story Award. Born and raised in New Jersey, Victor currently divides his time between Tucson, Arizona and Ashland, Oregon.

He is longlisted for the story: A Mother’s Dilemma

A dying woman reminisces to a girl she meets at a retrospective about the time she spent living with the eccentric, reclusive artist. Her story darkens as she nears its end – and approaches her own death – and reveals the series of tragedies that held her there. This is a poignant, morally complex story about the nature of truth, grief and secrets, and the intent and consequences that both actions and inactions have in our lives.

What inspired you to write the story? Is it drawn from personal experience?

The story began after a visit to the art studio of a dear friend, a woman who began to paint at the age of 70. The first section of A Mother’s Dilemma is drawn from a conversation we had that day. My friend, the painter, died several years ago, at the age of 82. The story is dedicated to her.

How does writing short stories differ from writing full-length fiction, and what do you enjoy about writing in the genre?

The writer Hortense Calisher once described a good short story as “an apocalypse in a teacup”. I’ve always liked this description, because it perfectly captures what I try to achieve with a story. Big drama in a small space. Because of their brevity (compared to a novel), there’s something particularly moving to me about a short story. You get only so much time with the situation and with the characters. Unlike a novel, where you come and go, night after night, day after day, with a short story the moment you have with the world of the piece passes quickly, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever meet these particular characters again. So the stakes are higher, and the transaction with a reader, though fleeting, can be quite powerful.

How do you write? Longhand or typed? Why does your chosen method work for you?

I often start with a few notes on a scrap of paper, but then I move to a computer, since I can type much faster than I can write by hand. Typing allows me to enter a more quicksilver state of mind, one in which I can get the words down before I judge them too much.

Which short story collection by another author would you recommend?

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower or Close Range by Annie Proulx.

What’s your favourite short story of all time? Who would you cast to read it?

The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde, read by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Who would you cast to read the story you have entered?

Diane Weist or Kathy Bates.

What are you reading now?

Rereading the Old Filth trilogy of Jane Gardam.

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