Greg Gerke lives in Buffalo, NY. His work has or will appear in Rosebud, Fourteen Hills, Pedestal Magazine, Pindeldyboz, Flash Forward Press 2009 Anthology and others. There’s Something Wrong With Sven, a book of short fiction has been published by BlazeVOX Books. He edits flash fiction for Buffalo’s Artvoice. His website is www.greggerke.com.
what are you reading now
My girlfriend yells at me because I have books everywhere. On the couch, in the bed. I read too many at once. Because I think I should read more classics I have the collected tales of Gogol. (If he was around today would he sue the biggest web company for infringement?) The W.S. Merwin collection that just won the Pulitzer, The Shadow of Sirius. And my old friend Louise Glück’s Meadowlands (google and read "Purple Bathing Suit" to feel good about your current relationship). But I also sparingly dip into The Wavering Knife, and so I don’t over-Evensonize myself I scarf down a William Trevor story from Cheating at Canasta or A Bit on the Side every once and a while to keep me honest. Also the Pushcart Prize XXXIII (2009 edition). For all you writers out there, read Jeremy Thomas’s "Shadow Boxing" which originally appeared in The Georgia Review. It’s an essay about art, composition, running marathons—mostly delving into Sly Stallone’s career and Rocky’s influence on the author.
classic you’ve been meaning to read
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. For the first time since sophomore English, but it just doesn’t happen.
last book to make you laugh out loud
There’s probably another but because I was sick and bedridden and delirious I couldn’t help going crazy over the first fifty pages of The Verificationist by Donald Antrim. Just imagine: psychologists meeting in a pancake house for an annual dinner, but there’s always one guy, that nervous one (the narrator), who wants to start a food fight but then gets bear hugged by a giant fat man whose boner drives into the narrator’s ass and forces our hero to have an out of body experience and float up to the ceiling, looking down at all his bitter, brittle, lascivious colleagues.
book you borrowed and never returned
I was traumatized one night when I was ten and I found a Peanuts book in my little desk drawer. It was nine months overdue. I started crying and thought I’d be thrown in jail. I never told anyone, until now.
guilty pleasure reading
Wikipedia entries about baseball players from my childhood, also movie entries.
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
I’ve never done this, though I started talking to a lady in a bar once about Salvador Dali . We were drinking some and I hadn’t eaten in about thirteen hours. I was standing while she sat at the bar and I thought I smelled oranges. The next moment I remember I was on the ground looking up at people gathered around me. I was dragged out of the Uptowner in the manner of the deposition from the cross. I never saw her again.
best american short stories, pen/o. henry prizes, or the pushcart prize anthology
I have to go with O. Henry because they seem to pick the edgier stuff. Evenson, Yannick Murphy, Christine Schutt, and the earlier George Saunders stories.
collected stories of
Alice Munro. There isn’t one yet but there will be. One of my early teachers told me to read her for the simplicity. I had only been gorging myself on men and though it took a few years to sink in she has taught me and inspired me more than any other writer. The changing timelines of her stories make Pulp Fiction’s labyrinths look like The Little Train That Could. They are funny, sad; there are mysteries, chases, people wearing disguises - the whole theatre of human existence. If I had to choose one book, it’s Open Secrets. Read "The Albanian Virgin" for time transitions, "Carried Away" for a novel in fifty pages and "Jack Randa Hotel" to laugh.
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
I will have to say NOON. Only once a year and though the overall aesthetic compulsively favors the self-reflexive/Gordon Lish snap and lilt, the stories are bright, vibrant and funny. With Kim Chinquee’s realism, Unferth’s surreal road trips and Lutz’s trusty Beckettian pathos, all is well in NOONland.
best thing you’ve read online recently
Spencer Dew’s "Some Themes of the Second Bush Administration". This two-pager begins innocently enough, but then Mr. Dew takes it to many places and by the time it ends he has captured post-9/11 America in a more honest and engaging way than all the 9/11 novels, Netherland included.
most anticipated upcoming release
I guess Cormac’s new book is tentatively called The Passenger (roll over in your grave Mr. Antonioni). Will the critics try and blow him out of the water after the mostly bulletproof The Road?
recommended reading list:
Wonderful Break-Up Stories
- "Are These Actual Miles?" by Raymond Carver
- "Platinum" by James Salter
- "A Bit on the Side" by William Trevor
- "Liars in Love" by Richard Yates
- "Winter Dreams" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- "The Palmer System" by Laurence C. Peacock
- "A Bear Came Over the Mountain" by Alice Munro
- "Comfort" by Mary Gaitskill
- "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway
- "Brokeback Mountain" by Annie Proulx