Please welcome Richard Lange back to the blog! He’s here today to talk about his new short story collection , Sweet Nothing.
Will you tell us a bit about your new collection, Sweet Nothing?
It’s my second collection of stories. (Dead Boys was the first.) They’re mostly set in Southern California again, but I mixed things up this time when it came to narrators, time periods, writing style, etc. I wanted to stretch a bit. One thing that didn’t change, though, is the cloud of desperation that hangs over the characters. I tend to write about the make-or-break moments in people’s lives, and that continues in Sweet Nothing.
What are a few of your personal favorites from the collection?
I love them all for different reasons. Writing each was an adventure for me, a journey, and I learned something from each one about myself as a writer and as a person and about the world around me. Writing is how I process life, the way I bring order to chaos.
What is your writing process for short fiction as opposed to full length novels? Is it easier for you to write short stories, or more difficult (or neither)?
Writing anything is hard for me because I’m always pushing myself and I’m a harsh critic of my own work. That said, writing stories is hard in a different way than writing novels . With stories, the difficulty is stringing together a series of moments that sometimes don’t want to be strung together into a cohesive emotional experience for the reader. With novels, I’m working a lot more with plot, with moving the story along. That’s still a challenge for me. I tend to want to dawdle.
What do you like to see in a good short story?
I want an experience. I want to be entertained or moved or dazzled or taught something or impressed. I like it when writers aim high, when they go for it, whether that’s through plot, character, structure, language or rhythm.
What are a few of your favorite suspense short story collections (or single stories)?
Off the top of my head, Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Ernest Hemingway’s “The Killers,” and anything from Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son.
It’s been a while since we caught up… Have you read any good books lately? Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to this year?
Here is where I promote a few friends’ books. I loved Jerry Stahl’s Happy Mutant Baby Pills and T.C. Boyle’s The Harder They Come, and Tom Cooper’s Marauders was a great ride. I’m looking forward to reading Tod Goldberg’s Gangsterland, William Boyle’s Death Don’t Have No Mercy, and Chris Offutt’s new memoir.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a new novel and doing some screenplay work.
About Sweet Nothing:
Set on the dark side of Los Angeles, the masterful new collection from an award-winning and highly praised “natural-born storyteller” (Ron Rash).
In these gripping and intense stories, Richard Lange returns to the form that first landed him on the literary map.
These are edge-of-your-seat tales: A prison guard must protect an inmate being tried for heinous crimes. A father and son set out to rescue a young couple trapped during a wildfire. An ex-con trying to make good as a security guard stumbles onto a burglary plot. A young father must submit to blackmail to protect the fragile life he’s built.
SWEET NOTHING is an unforgettable collection that shows once again why T.C. Boyle wrote, “Lange’s stories combine the truth-telling and immediacy of Raymond Carver with the casual hip of Denis Johnson. There is a potent artistic sensibility at work here” (on Dead Boys).