Interviewed by Sommer Schafer
Read Glen Pourciau’s fiction piece, Source
Sommer: I love the contemporariness of this story. You do an incredible job of showing an insidious part of the world we find ourselves in these days; one in which people are unable to have civil discourse with, much less love, those who have different views. Many are unable to listen to an opposing view because they’re projecting their own anger, fear, suspicion, desire for retribution, and self-righteousness. As your narrator astutely observes, the protagonist’s inner voice is “an internal propagandist that constantly needs reasoning with.” Yet, when it comes right down to it, he is unwilling to ignore his inner voice and reach out (“Why should he open himself to a person who has had no charitable opinion of him?”). Do you see a future in which your protagonist will get outside of his head, and how? And why should he open himself up to someone “who has had no charitable opinion of him?”
Glen: The protagonist in this story has some self- awareness, but he finds it hard to take a step forward with the HOA leader. I’m showing his mental processes and how difficult he makes it for himself to change. He may be able to get partly outside his head, though there’s nothing in the story to suggest it will happen with the HOA leader. If I commented on how the protagonist should behave, I’d be taking the character and readers outside the story, though I am happy if the story leads readers to consider its implications. He does ask why he should open himself, but to him it is a question with no apparent affirmative answer. It stands to reason there is a more enlightened answer, just as there would be to the question, “What am I supposed to be, my brother’s keeper?”
What do you think is one of the antidotes to becoming usurped by our “internal propagandist[s]”?
Exercising civility, which implies respect for the inherent value of life.
This quiet, “internal” story seems so perfect for a first-person narrator. Why did you decide to write it in third person, or did it just come out that way?
Ninety-five percent of my stories are first person. I see the story from inside the narrator’s head and hear it in his or her voice. I’m usually not comfortable with third-person narration, because I keep thinking the voice is coming from me and I like to remain in the background. In “Source,” I imagined the story as third person, yet still inside the protagonist’s head. He asks himself questions and is not totally identified with his own thinking. There is a distance between him and his unfurling sentences, so the slight distance implied by third person seems to me to fit. This is my best guess why the story came out this way.
I’m so curious what this guy has on his grocery list! Any ideas?
Better for readers to imagine their own lists, but here’s what I have: almond milk with vanilla, organic strawberries, a box of Kashi cereal, IPA six-pack, light bulbs.
Do you have any advice for writers on handling rejection?
In my opinion, being able to deal with rejection is one of the most important factors for enduring as a writer. I believe the reader is part of the story and that all readers bring their unique chaos to a narrative. I think it is completely unpredictable what an editor or any other reader is going to get out of my stories, and if they are generous enough to tell me how they understood what they read, I’m often surprised by what they say. Sending multitudes of submissions into the unknown for decades is a marathon undertaking.
What are you working on these days?
More and more stories. My third story collection will be published by Four Way Books in 2021.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, and congratulations!
Thank you for your thoughtful questions.