Name: Peter Orner
My genre: Novels, Stories (literary fiction sounds like such a drag.)
My literary influences: Depends on the day. Today: Chekhov, Faulkner, Isaac Babel, Edna O'Brien, Wright Morris, Gina Berriault, John Edgar Wideman, Andre Dubus, William Trevor, Eudora Welty, Henry Green, Virginia Woolf. Tomorrow: Dostoevsky.
My favorite literary quote: "The Russian loves recalling life, but he does not love living." Chekhov,"The Steppe" Seems to me the quote is all about how the stories we tell are in some ways more exciting and intense to us than the experiences we're telling about themselves. And this seems pretty basic to the human condition: stories are our lifeblood.
My favorite book of all time: Tie: The Golden Apples, Welty, Go Down Moses, Faulkner. Two brilliant and strangely structured books, I go for books with weird structures, and these two are hard to top. Are they story collections? Are they novels? In end, it doesn't matter a lick.
I’m currently reading: The Spark and the Drive by Wayne Harrison, great new novel about cars, love, and the mysteries inherent in them both.
My guilty pleasure book: James and Giant Peach. I do take it with me on planes. For my three year-old daughter, but mostly for me. I also can't live without it.
I can't write without: a cup of cold coffee to the left side of my notebook. Also, I can't write with a computer.
Worst line I ever wrote: Just this morning, I had a character say, "Do you think the Amish are any purer than the hippies?" Not an especially great moment in literature.
Peter Orner’s new collection of stories, Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, will be published in August of 2013 by Little, Brown. Orner is also the author of Esther Stories, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, and Love and Shame and Love. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Granta, McSweeney’s, and other periodicals, as well as in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Non-Required Reading. Orner has received the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Goldberg Prize for Jewish Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and two Pushcart Prizes. Originally from Chicago, he is a professor at San Francisco State University and lives in Bolinas, California.