A woman and a firefighter meet at the top of a ladder in Ravi Mangla’s Summit. He also talks with us about literary arm wrestling opponents, better climbing through technology and living in a bookstore.
1. If you had the chance, would you live in a bookstore in the same way your protagonist in “Summit” lived in the bookstore?
Maybe. It depends on the bookstore. I wouldn’t want to live in a chain or one of those morgue-like antique bookstores. A friendly, independently-owned, neighborhood store would be the best fit, with a staff that brings me coffee and snacks, despite the fact I’m driving away precious business with my lapsed hygiene and a Â loincloth I made from the fur-covered editions of Dave Egger’s The Wild Things.
2. List five literary characters you would arm wrestle.
My arm lacks anything resembling muscle, so I would prefer to arm wrestle small children or the elderly. I just read “Florida”Â by Christine Schutt. I would arm wrestle most of the characters in that book: Aunt Frances, Nonna, Alice (narrator) from the earlier chapters, Alice (mother) and Uncle Billy from the later chapters. Place your bets.
3. What challenges do you face when writing short/flash fiction such as “Summit”?
Concision and rhythm are the biggest challenges. No unnecessary words and no clunky lines. Also, the endings are tricky. It usually takes me several days or weeks to work out the last line.
4. What’s the highest object you’ve ever climbed?
The CN Tower, the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower — though I didn’t climb those things so much as I pressed a button and got on an elevator. I went on an impromptu nature hike last month and climbed this hill which turned out to be extremely steep and narrow and I was convinced I’d trip on something and plummet.
5. What albums do you have in heavy rotation?
I picked up The Antlers new album recently. That’s my driving music this week. Also, I’ve been listening to the new Cotton Jones and Dinosaur Jr. albums. The Dinosaur Jr. is good. Cotton Jones has its moments, but I still miss Page France.