Nick Dybek is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He is the recipient of a Hopwood Award for Short Fiction, a Maytag Fellowship, a 2010 Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award, and a Granta New Voices selection. He lives in New York City.
Dybek is the author of When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man.
From his Q & A with Ted Hodgkinson for Granta:
TH: One of the things that fascinated me about ‘When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man’ is the slight blurring between the family’s reality on Loyalty Island and the fictions that the son (and our narrator) is captivated by, particularly Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Would you say that his fascination with ‘doomed pirates’ and their fates is his way of making sense of the violence and chaos of his young life?Visit Nick Dybek's website.
ND: In children’s books the villains are usually doomed while the heroes make it to the end; in Treasure Island, for example, the reader knows Jim Hawkins will survive because he’s telling the story, but there’s no such guarantee for John Silver. It’s Silver that you need to fear for. Perhaps because of this, I was always more interested in the villains than the heroes when I was a kid.
I imagined Cal, the narrator, to be similarly fascinated by the villains of Treasure Island, by the tension they produce whenever they step on the page. As your question suggests, anxiety and apprehension are familiar feelings for Cal; his father (and all his male role models) live with constant, excruciating risk, a sword always hanging over their heads. Because of their jobs, they are imperilled – just as a book’s villains are in the mind of a child-reader. It made sense to me, therefore, that Cal would identify his father with the endangered and yet dangerous pirates; at the same time, I thought he would want to see his father as a hero. I think the Captain Flint stories resonate for him in part because...[read on]
Writers Read: Nick Dybek.