Interview with Alberto Balengo

Published 2019-05-13.
Name some literary influences.
For short form fiction: Dino Buzzati, Augusto Monterosso, Heinrich Böll, Kafka, Hans Christian Andersen, Ovid. Among Americans, I enjoy Lydia Davis, Jack Matthews and Michael Martone.
Why add story notes at the end? Shouldn't stories be able to stand on their own? Isn't it jinxing to talk about your own creations?
Perhaps, but I wanted to mention related book titles and curious aspects about the composition of the stories. Most of these backstage details have little bearing on whether a story succeeds or what it is supposed to mean.
If you could be any animal, what would you be?
This answer will vary according to my mood and time of day, but currently I like the idea of being an insect (any insect) and getting to fly about anywhere without regard to what the mammals are doing. Do you think bumble bees care about (or even notice) the stock market or the latest Toyota? Recently I have been reading "Ends of the World" by Peter Brannen and "Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert; I was struck by descriptions of species which died out in previous extinctions. It's hard enough trying to get inside the consciousness of a species now on earth; just imagine how difficult it would be to imagine creatures from the Ordovician period. (I guess only sci fi authors are brave enough to try.)

A while back I heard an incredible BBC radio play by Michael Symmons Robert, "Progress of the Soul of Lizzie Calvin." The play was about a "soul" who leapt from one living creature to another and assumed their consciousness. What magnificent magic!
Did anything in your personal life inspire you to write the "Cure"?
Not really, though after finishing the story, I learned about the ridiculously complicated drug regimens of some older people I know. I certainly respect medical science, but at some point it becomes hard to tell if the medication is oppressing you more than the ailment.
How autobiographical is the "Indolence: Notebook" piece?
I certainly incorporate autobiographical details into this essayistic piece and other stories. For example, no person in Texas can or should avoid breakfast tacos. And I lose keys more often than the average person. But these details are mostly unimportant. I enjoy playing around with ideas and expressing tentative support for them within a book. Alas, the more one tries to be autobiographical, the more tempting it is to lie!
How does this story collection fit in with your other projects?
Not at all! This volume came about by accident. I have been working forever on other projects without publishing anything. Finally in 2014, I decided that I needed to scrounge together some of my old stories and publish SOMETHING. As soon as I realized that, I came up with a title and wrote a few more stories that seemed to fit. Interestingly one of the stories I wrote became so big that I had to kick it out. "Deletionist" was one of the last stories I wrote – it's slightly long and different in tone from the other stories, but is thematically related.
How has living in Texas affected what you write about?
Not at all! These stories could describe anywhere -- and could have been written from anywhere -- Bolivia, Mozambique, Albania, Cambodia. Sure, maybe place indirectly affects me (in terms of subject matter or word choice). But place only matters when you are creating atmosphere or describing an individual's role in society -- I am doing neither of these things here.
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Books by This Author

Minor Sketches and Reveries (Stories)
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 54,400. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2020 by personvillepress. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary, Fiction » Literary collections » American / General
These introspective tales feature animals, allegories and melodramas of everyday life. At the center of the stories are tiny creatures (a sparrow, earthworm or paperclip) struggling to make sense of larger mysterious forces. Human protagonists are equally perplexed by ordinary events – like searching for a lost key, watching late night TV, or eating a taco.