Monday, August 24, 2009

Matthew Vollmer

Matthew Vollmer's work has appeared in a number of journals and magazines, including Paris Review, Epoch, VQR, Tin House, and Oxford American. His short story collection is Future Missionaries of America.

From his Q & A with Nic Brown, author of Floodmarkers, at The Millions:

Nic Brown: In your book, you write several amazing, matter-of-fact, contemporary, and complicated stories involving aspects of Christianity - namely Seventh Day Adventists. I know you have some family background with this religion. Did you feel uncomfortable at any point writing about people of this faith (and those only encountering it, like the protagonist of the book's title story), or worried about how any Seventh Day Adventists you know would react? How have they reacted?

Matthew Vollmer: Yes, it's true I grew up Seventh-day Adventist. People may find it hard to believe that stopping each week for 24 hours (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) to rest, reflect, and abstain from "secular" activities (TV watching, sports, shopping, school, work, reading Mad magazine, etc.) could be great, but by and large being an SDA kid was pretty great, at least in my family. Sure, my church and grade school (and boarding academy) had some kooks, but as you pointed out in your interview, we're all freaks and there are kooks everywhere. When you grow up SDA, you grow up in a very tight knit group of people, the majority of whom like to have fun, even if they don't, by and large, dance or participate in competitive sports or listen to rock n roll or endorse the consumption of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or "flesh foods." I suppose my problem began to emerge in college, once I started to ask questions about the "27 Fundamental Beliefs." Also, I started to meet people who weren't SDA. I started to appreciate different cultures, different cultural experiences, and eventually, I just found the SDA culture much too inhibitive, too insular. From my perspective, the SDA church was one that wanted to provide answers for why everything is the way it is. And those answers were often unsatisfying. Not to mention I surrendered the idea of having to have an answer for everything. I realized that sometimes, it's okay for things to remain mysterious.

For years I'd tried to write about the SDA experience. But usually, when I did, I...[read on]
Visit Matthew Vollmer's website.

Writers Read: Matthew Vollmer.

Also at The Millions, Vollmer interviewed Nic Brown. Vollmer's opening:
My favorite thing about your book is that it's a total freak show. We've got a character who's in love with his cousin, another who makes out with his friend's wife, a veterinarian who's into child porn, a guy who makes his mohawk stiff using microwaved gelatin, a guy who keeps a dead dog in his deep freezer, a former bodybuilder who's feeling guilty about causing the death of a Vietnamese kid, and (my favorite) an aspiring actor who works in a hot dog factory and helps a fellow employee pop a zit on his back he can't reach.
Read Nic Brown's reaction and the complete interview.

The Page 69 Test: Nic Brown's Floodmarkers.

Visit Nic Brown's website.

--Marshal Zeringue