Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Bodies, Dreams, and Blood: An Interview with Aaron Burch


Part of what I like about the stories was the pairing, that balance — in one way, “After the Leaving” is a kind of suburban story, even while being this bigger, more surreal, Bible story. So, then, it became, “how do I segue out of one and into the next one most effectively?” And also asking what each story added to the whole, with a few stories that felt very at home in one of the half-collections getting cut because, here, it felt too similar to something else and didn’t add anything interesting to the mix.

Thanks, Vol. 1!

Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Bodies, Dreams, and Blood: An Interview with Aaron Burch

Aaron Burch embraces viscera. His first collection, How to Predict the Weather, was full of moments where a general sense of surrealism delved into nightmarish places; reading his new collection, Backswing, one might get a certain sense of reassurance. Some of the settings are more familiar; some of the interactions aren’t charged with strange violence. Except that those disorienting underpinnings remain: characters surrender to religious compulsion, or are overtaken by dream logic, or fall victim to sudden violence, whether from external or internal sources.

I reached out to Burch via email to talk about his collection, the themes and images that seemed most prominent there, and 90s hardcore.

Tobias Carroll asked me some Qs for Vol. 1 Brooklyn, I tried to give back some As.

Aaron Burch — Tour

My book comes out a week from today! (Apologies if you’re like, “It isn’t even out yet? I’m already sick of hearing about it!”) That means you have one more week to order it directly from the publisher w/o having to pay for shipping, hooking up a rad small press with a little extra $$, and then it’ll be available pretty much everywhere.

This also means, a week from today, I’ll be in NY, 3 days in to my 10 day east coast/new england reading tour through DC, NY, Philly, Bmore, Becket, Portland, Cambridge, & Hudson. If you live out that way, come hang out?

It was a curiosity at first, a what if? Take a mortar shell, drop it down the tube. Open a packet of bottle rockets and shove them down on top, leaving the wick of the shell free. Light it. Run. Watch it explode, all of it at once. Keep running, from excitement, from surprise that it actually worked, that the burning wick actually lit the bottle rockets as it burned toward the mortar, the exploding mortar then lighting whatever the wick missed. Keep running because the ground is a battlefield of unpredictable zinging shots of sparks, the bottle rockets pushed up out of the tube and shooting across the ground, tiny land torpedoes at everyone’s feet. Laugh. High five. Try it again with two packages of bottle rockets. With bigger rockets, the ones attached to sticks thick like a Sharpie instead of skinny as a toothpick. Try two mortars, twisting their wicks together. Two mortars and two packages of bottle rockets. One mortar and three packages, four, five, as many as can be crammed in, the just right number of small sticks to fit the exact diameter of the mortar tube. Do this all night, burning through paychecks, months’ of paychecks because you’re still in school and living with your parents, because bills and real responsibilities don’t exist yet, just cars and gas, CDs and concert tickets and video games. Agree that it was worth it. Call it fire in the sky. Fire in the sky because, soon as you all saw it, that’s what it looked like. Like an empty sky suddenly filled with shooting stars, like a stadium’s lights for a night game suddenly switched on. Promise to do it again next year. To buy even more shells and bottle rockets. And again the year after that, forever, a new tradition.

The first para of “Fire in the Sky,” from BACKSWING.

Happy 4th, y’all!