Eve Gleichman is a graduate of Brooklyn College’s MFA program. She is the associate fiction editor at Guernica magazine and is currently working on her first book of stories. She lives in Brooklyn. Her KR Short Fiction Prize-winning short story “Butter” can be found here. It appears in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of the Kenyon Review.
The sensory details of the bread and butter are so rich. How did you choose a bakery for your setting? I’m struck by the violence of this moment, when the two characters eat fresh-baked bread in silence, a kind of communion: “there was nothing to contemplate but bread, and the soft inside was hot enough to burn you, and the crust could cut up the roof of your mouth.”
I spent a year or two working in kitchens after college. Nothing as brutal as this ever happened to me, but I think restaurant kitchens are by nature brutal. I wanted to try to capture what it’s like to be somewhat tender, somewhat delicate in an unforgiving place like a hot kitchen. The sadistic boss in this story is an extension of the kitchen. And the environment ends up being painful, but also invigorating and even cathartic for this character.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of writing fiction this short? Or do you find the shorter form comes to you easily?
Everything I write is short. I can always find something to cut. Writing longer stories—and even adding a scene to a story in revision—is much harder for me (and often I ruin stories this way).
How has your writing or writing process changed since you started out?
I used to write much more formally, often in third person, with a lot of narrative distance. Those stories took me forever and most haven’t seen the light of day. For good reason! Now I almost always write in first person, and my writing has loosened up. I find it easier to access character in first person. It’s much more natural for me. But I’m in awe of good third person writing; I’m thinking of Leopoldine Core’s story collection When Watched—beautiful, simply-told third-person stories between two people. I wish I could do that.
Which non-writing-related aspect of your life most influences your writing?
Heartbreak and desire (romantic or otherwise!) fuel all my stories.
What is either the best or the worst piece of writing advice you’ve received or given?