#CopingWith is CCM’s interview series run by managing editor Joanna C. Valente
Tobias Carroll’s book, “Transitory,” came out on August 15, 2016 from CCM. Of the book, Laura van den Berg has said, “Ingenious and mysterious, the stories of Tobias Carroll are spun with quiet loneliness and wild surprise. Transitory is that rare kind of collection where each story stands shining alone and, in the end, forms a beautifully melancholic whole. Tobias Carroll is an original and deeply exciting talent.”
As such, we interviewed him about his book, although instead of asking boring lit questions, our managing editor Joanna C. Valente asked Tobias about everything else instead, like what his favorite meal and apocalypse plans are.
Here’s what he said:
Describe your favorite meal.
On the one hand, I’d go with something savory but a little complicated: there’s a pizza that you can get at a restaurant in my neighborhood, Adelina’s, where the crust is lightly fried, the toppings (spicy meat, cheese) work well together, and the tomato sauce is rich.
On the other hand, I’m also fond of something simple: there’s a bar in my hometown where the bar nachos are basically my definition of comfort food: heaps of cheese and meat, some of them seared to the plate. Delicious. I’ve had some amazing meals that have largely been one-offs; in terms of something that can be replicated, maybe the pizza mentioned above or a Sicilian slice or two from a place in Lincroft, New Jersey. That said, I’ve become fixated more recently on the chechebsa served at brunches at Bunna Cafe in Bushwick. So maybe a blend of the deeply familiar and the newer?
What music do often you write to, if at all?
Lots of ambient and drone work: Nils Frahm and Stars of the Lid (and related projects) are particular favorites. There are certain albums that I love that I can’t write to, and that’s mightily frustrating. Certain composers will also work: Steve Reich, some Bach, some Pärt. Though some of that is related to place, too: I can write at a coffee shop with almost anything on, but at home, it’s a little trickier. I have no idea why.
What are three books that you’ve always identified with?
Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun, and Jonathan Lethem’s Chronic City.
Choose one painting that describes who you are. What is it?
This is tough, especially because the artist I’ve been most obsessed with in recent years has been James Turrell. (“I’m like Roden Crater–vast, cosmic, and still in progress!” Wait, no.) Maybe Leonora Carrington’s “Play Shadow”? Something where you can get lost in the details.
Choose a gif that encompasses mornings for you.
What do you imagine the apocalypse is like? How would you want to die?
I had a dream about this very topic a couple of months ago. First I was on the earth when things started to simply fall apart; then, I was watching from some vantage point in space (maybe the Moon?) as continents started to crumble. I blame the film Melancholia for making a very specific, very vivid, very visually stunning vision of the end of the world. As for the other part of the question? Lately, I’ve been utterly terrified of dying in my sleep. So I think I’d prefer to have some sort of conscious awareness that this is it for me–preferably in some level of comfort at a ripe old age.
If you could only watch three films for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Three Colors: Red, The Long Goodbye, and Raising Arizona. (The last of those because, well, I’d need something funny in the mix.)
How would you describe your social media persona/role?
Diplomatic and sometimes hesitant to a fault. I sometimes envy my friends who opt for more private social media presences, as I feel like I can’t necessarily be as candid; on the other hand, I think that, by nature, I’m not that candid to begin with. Alternately: sometimes I look back at the columns I wrote for the zine I did in the 90s or the blog I maintained in the early 00s and see someone working a lot of things out in public, sometimes very awkwardly. I’m glad I did it, but I’m also okay with no longer doing it, if that makes sense.
What’s your favorite animal and why?
I’m slightly more of a dog person than a cat person, and recently, I’ve been wondering if I’m making a huge mistake with my life by not being a dog owner. I grew up around dogs–my parents have beagles–and lately, I find myself freaking out a lot when I’m around dogs of all varieties.
What do you carry with you at all times?
Wallet, keys, phone, reading material, and some sort of note-taking device. Which is sometimes the phone, but more often than not is a notebook and pen. Usually all of these things are in a tote bag; when I’m without it, I often end up looking for it when I go to different places. (Such was the case earlier today, when I was doing some errands.) When I worked an office job, I would also usually have some kind of writing device–at the time, that was a tablet and a Bluetooth keyboard–which I’d use after work to get a couple of minutes of writing time in.
Tobias Carroll is the author of the short story collection Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms, August 15) and the novel Reel (Rare Bird, October 11). He is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn. His writing has been published by Bookforum, Tin House, Rolling Stone, Hazlitt, Men’s Journal, and more. He grew up in Tinton Falls, NJ and now calls Brooklyn, NY home.
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Marys of the Sea (ELJ Publications, 2016), & Xenos (2016, Agape Editions). She received her MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, as well as the managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM. Some of her writing has appeared in Prelude, The Atlas Review, The Feminist Wire, BUST, Pouch, and elsewhere. She also teaches workshops at Brooklyn Poets.