One of the few writers we know with two big Selected or Collected type of collections (we know TCB does as well--we're sure there are others, but not a ton). David Jauss is also an author we've had the pleasure of working with a bit when Dzanc Books did two of his previous short story collections in their rEprint series. David was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
DW: Your short story collection, Nice People: New & Selected Stories II, was published in 2017. What story within the collection had the earliest publication history outside of being in the collection, and what was that history?
DJ: My novella “Last Rites” originally appeared in my first collection, Crimes of Passion, way back in 1984, but I extensively revised it before Dzanc Books republished that book in e-book format in 2014 and I made some additional minor revisions to it before Press 53 included it in Nice People in 2017. Three of the other stories in Nice People date back to the mid-nineties, when they appeared in my collection Black Maps (which Dzanc Books also republished in e-book format), but the remaining nine stories in Nice People are either brand-new or revised versions of stories that appeared in magazines in recent years.
DW: How did the publication of this particular collection come about? Were you solicited by the publisher, win a contest, agent submission, etc.?
DJ: After reading some of Press 53’s impressive short story collections, I queried its publisher, Kevin Morgan Watson, about publishing a New & Selected, and he asked me to send him the stories I was considering including. I sent him enough stories for two books, and I expected him to choose only half, but he liked the stories so much that he decided to print my New & Selected as a two-volume set. The first volume, Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories, appeared in 2013. Nice People would have followed more quickly, but I wanted to write a few new stories for it.
DW: Where do short stories fit within your life as an author? Primary form to work with, or something you write when an idea hits, or …?
DJ: Although I’ve published two collections of poetry and a collection of essays on the craft of fiction, the short story has always been my primary form. I think it’s the ideal literary form, one that combines the compression and intensity of a poem with the exploration of characters and events of a novel. I’m with Amy Bloom, who said that the difference between a novel and a story is “not the difference between Mt. Everest and a large hill. It’s like scaling Everest faster.”
DW: Where do short stories fit within your life as a reader?
DJ: Just as the short story is my primary form for writing, it’s my primary form for reading. At least 70% of the books I read are story collections, and I confess I read more poetry and nonfiction than novels.
DW: How will you be celebrating National Short Story Month this May?
DJ: For me, every month is National Short Story Month, so this May I’ll be doing exactly what I do every month of the year: buy and read a wide variety of short story collections.
DW: Thank you very much for your time!
DJ: And thank you for your support for short fiction!
David Jauss is the author of four collections of short stories, Black Maps, Crimes of Passion, Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories, and Nice People: New & Selected Stories II; two books of poems, You Are Not Here and Improvising Rivers; a collection of craft essays, On Writing Fiction; and a short monograph on the issue of completion in a work of art, A Crack in Everything: How We Know What's Done Is Done. He has also edited three anthologies, Words Overflown by Stars, an anthology of essays on the craft of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction from past and present faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts, The Best of Crazyhorse: Thirty Years of Poetry and Fiction, and, with Philip Dacey, Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms.