Ben Schrank

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Posted 1.9.13

"On Saturdays I go look at art, partly because I wish I had become a visual artist. I’m not looking for narrative work, just powerful images that will push me out of my storytelling head. Abstract artists like Thomas Nozkowski and Jorge Pardo make me happy, while Georg Baselitz and Ida Applebroog hint that I shouldn’t envy their vocation. I think they want to tell stories, too. On nights before I write I absorb some great sentences that I’ll rearrange or just steal when I write the next day. I look at Isaac Babel’s short stories, or Leonard Michaels’ short stories, or pages from RK Narayan’s novels, especially Waiting for the Mahatma. I also look at this fiction because I’m always trying to regain access to what made me want to be a writer—the emotional curiosity part, not the full-of-rage part. And then when I sit down to write I listen to country music that’s really storytelling, like anything by Tom T. Hall and Waylon Jennings. I love their songs but as I work, I’m looking forward to the moment when I don’t hear the words anymore."
Ben Schrank, author of Love Is a Canoe (Sarah Crichton Books, 2013)