Seth Fried's short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including Tin House, One Story, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The Kenyon Review, The Missouri Review, and Vice. His debut short story collection, The Great Frustration, was published in May 2011 by Soft Skull Press.
what are you reading now
I am just about to finish The Book of Imaginary Beings by Borges. The last third of my forthcoming collection is a bestiary of fake microscopic organisms, and so someone recommended I check out this Borges book. It would have been an amazing resource while I was writing my book, but unfortunately I came to it a little late.
Even if you're not writing a bestiary, I think it's a phenomenal book. In two or three hundreds words Borges will provide you with amazing insight on really complex and ambiguous creatures.
A favorite passage from the book’s description of the chimera: "[...] all authorities agree that the monster originally came from Lycia, where there is a volcano that bears its name. The base of the volcano is infested with serpents; on its sides there are meadows where goats pasture; and on the top, flames shoot forth and lions have their dens. The Chimera might, then, be a metaphor for that wonderful mountain."
classic you’ve been meaning to read
Every so often I tell myself that I am going to read Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy, and then I just straight up don't. On several occasions I have given the first five pages a very close and enthusiastic read. However, I inevitably end up being sidetracked by some other book that isn't a 1400 page prescientific treatise on melancholy.
last book you finished in a single sitting
The Grand Hotels of Joseph Cornell by Robert Coover
book you borrowed and never returned
In undergrad a good friend lent me Stanley Elkin's Greatest Hits and I never gave it back. In my defense, it's not like I failed to return it out of laziness. I loved the book and was deliberately trying to steal it.
most treasured book in your collection
My copy of Catch-22 is the first really important book I ever read. I've had it since I was about 14 and it looks like hell.
if you could take a cross-country road trip with any literary character
Qfwfq from Cosmicomics and t zero. He was around for The Big Bang. He has taken a rowboat to the moon. He was alive when birds were discovered. He was once a dinosaur. Those are all qualities I look for in a traveling companion.
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
I remember doing a lot of showing off when I first read Foucault’s Madness and Civilization. I haven't picked it up in a while, but back then I remember finding it ridiculously dense and challenging. I might even be trying to show off by mentioning it now.
collected stories of
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
best thing you’ve read online recently
When I was attending undergrad, my friend and I used to go to art museums and base stories on the paintings. The title story of my collection was inspired by a painting called The Garden of Eden at The Toledo Museum of Art. However, probably my favorite story from that series was one my friend wrote called "The Bored Madonna" (Moon Milk Review).
most anticipated upcoming release
Steven Millhauser's We Others is going to be amazing. Also, I'm really looking forward to Donald Ray Pollock's The Devil All The Time.
Recommended Reading List:
There is a mega anthology I am constantly putting together in my head. It changes all the time, but right now it would include the following stories:
- "The Adventure of the Bather" by Italo Calvino (Difficult Loves)
- "The Sandman" by Donald Barthelme (Amateurs)
- "Cats and Students, Bubbles and Abysses" by Rick Bass (The Watch)
- "The Rememberer" by Aimee Bender (The Girl in the Flammable Skirt)
- "Partisans" by Karl Taro Greenfeld (One Story)
- "Kafka Cooks Dinner" by Lydia Davis (Varieties of Disturbance)
- "Bigfoot Stole My Wife" by Ron Carlson (The News of the World)
- "The Guest" by Stanley Elkin (Criers & Kibitzers, Kibitzers & Criers)
- "Pet Milk" by Stuart Dybek (The Coast of Chicago)
- "The Amazing Drowning Woman" by Brent Van Horne (The Milan Review)
- "Cockroaches in Autumn" by Lydia Davis (Break It Down)
- "Carry Me Home, Sisters of Saint Joseph" by Marie-Helene Bertino (American Short Fiction)
- "Realism" by Charles Yu (Third Class Superhero)
- "Box" by J. David Stevens (The Paris Review)
- "The Dinosaurs" by Italo Calvino (Cosmicomics)
- "The Magic Poker" by Robert Coover (Pricksongs and Descants)
- "Relief" by Peter Ho Davies (The Ugliest House in the World)
- "The Faery Handbag" by Kelly Link (Magic for Beginners)
- "This Is a Story About My Friend George, the Toy Inventor" by Grace Paley (Later That Same Day)
- "B Positive" by Michael Czyzniejewski (Elephants in Our Bedroom)
- "Paradise Park" by Steven Millhauser (The Knife Thrower)
- "Ghosting" by John Hodgman (The Paris Review)
- "A Common Misunderstanding" by Franz Kafka (The Complete Stories)
- "Girl and Giraffe" by Lydia Millet (Love in Infant Monkeys)
- "The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death" by Shawn Vestal (Tin House)
- "No Kaddish for Weinstein" by Woody Allen (Without Feathers)
- "Signifying Nothing" by David Foster Wallace (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men)
- "The Joke" by J. David Stevens (Mexico is Missing)
- "The Balloon" by Donald Barthelme (Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts)
- "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Collected Stories)