In this episode, I speak with award-winning author Vanessa Blakeslee about her new book, a collection of short stories, titled ‘Perfect Conditions.’ In this conversation, we discuss the writing process, producing art in a time of accelerating crisis and unrelenting change, and the “dark night of the soul” many individuals inevitably go through when the reality of our collective predicament is recognized on the individual level. In ‘Perfect Conditions,’ Blakeslee’s characters “often struggle to find control in unrelenting circumstances, in places which are often anything but welcoming.”☨
In this time of accelerating ecological, political, and spiritual crisis, how do we cope with the reality our species has forged on this planet? In the face of collapse on multiple fronts, what role does art play in our ability to grapple with the implications of these trends? Vanessa and I discuss the themes of her most recent book through the lens of this shared understanding, in particular how fiction (and art more generally) can allow us to contemplate and understand the nature of the situation unfolding before us in real time. We also discuss the personal journey individuals must take when the reality of our collective predicament is recognized on the personal level, described as the “dark night of the soul” within the context of this conversation, and how this journey forces us to reconfigure our individual identity and to focus our passions towards new life goals, priorities, and projects.
Vanessa Blakeslee is the author of the debut novel, ‘Juventud’ (Curbside Splendor, 2015), hailed by Publisher's Weekly as a "tale of self-discovery and intense first love." Her story collection, ‘Train Shots’ (Burrow Press) won the 2014 IPPY Gold Medal in Short Fiction. The book was also long-listed for the 2014 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and has been optioned for a feature film by writer/director Hannah Beth King. Vanessa's writing has appeared in The Southern Review, Green Mountains Review, The Paris Review Daily,The Globe and Mail, and Kenyon Review Online, among many others. Finalist for the 2014 Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award, she has also been awarded grants and residencies from Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Banff Centre, Ledig House, the Ragdale Foundation, and in 2013 received the Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. ✧
- Learn more purchase Vanessa’s book ‘Perfect Conditions’ at the Curbside Splendor website: http://bit.ly/2L6sAPO
- Learn more about Vanessa and her work at her website: http://www.vanessablakeslee.com
- Follow Vanessa on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VanessaBlakesleeAuthor
- Follow Vanessa on Twitter: https://twitter.com/vmblakeslee
- Vanessa is a regular on the The Drunken Odyssey - “A Podcast About The Writing Life.” Learn more and listen here: https://thedrunkenodyssey.com
- The song featured in the episode is “Again” by Dorris Day.