Mary Hamilton’s We Know What We Are is forthcoming from Rose Metal Press this summer. In the meantime, her work appears in the March issue. Today she talks with us about optometry, GaGa glasses, and first lines.
1. What is the importance of the opening line? Do you craft it first and let the story spill out of its belly or do you work backwards, knowing where to find the body before you’ve even sharpened the knife?
When I was young, probably seven or eight, I was really gifted at cleaning fish. I knew exactly where to make that initial cut so that I could split the fish open, gills to tail in one movement and then, before the knife was even out of my hand, I was pulling out the insides with one pull so the guts were in the garbage in a big anatomical clump. I’d rinse that fish, cut it the way I wanted it, wrap it in stiff white paper, and bring it home to mom. I never liked the taste of fish, so I never dined on any of my catches. And now I am a vegetarian. So, I guess my answer is, working backwards is ridiculous.
2. If the moon’s a cranky bitch, what’s the sun?
The sun is Cindy Wilson
3. What constellation would you summon to punch someone you dislike somewhere soft and awkward?
Capricornus, also known as the Goat-Fish. By sea or by land, no one sees the Goat-Fish until it’s too late.
4. How has being an optician affected your writing style?
Other than providing me an income so I can afford Internet and am therefore able to watch “The Deadliest Catch” online, it hasn’t affected my writing. A lot of people get “optician” confused with “optometrist.” An optometrist is the one who does the eye exam and maybe touches your eyeball. An optician looks at the prescription and decides what kind of glasses and lenses you should wear. I can also tell you if your eyeball is shaped like a football.
5. In Lady Gaga’s video, “Telephone”, she wears a pair of sunglasses made from lit cigarettes. What would you make a pair of glasses out of?
Rollerskates, whiskey, and lasers.