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newyorker82-200OK, so, if you have not read James Robison‘s story on Fictionaut, “Mars,” drop everything, OK?

Be sure to read the comments of his fellow writers and editors, because basically, we all went a little nuts, thrilled that a) Jim was here on our newbie site; and b) that Jim had posted this amazing story, with its crackling dialogue, mounting tension, and sweet marital confusion.

Later, I asked him to write 2 or 3 things he knows about Fictionaut, and he responded with this love letter. So, I’m saying, we love him here.

I first read Jim’s stories in The New Yorker, and then read his story collection, Rumor. Knocked me out. Then I read his novel, The Illustrator, and was introduced to Q.

OK, I’m not going to say more about Q, except that she is one of the most remarkable young female characters ever written, sexy & dangerous and I will stop there. Go get the book.

So I asked Jim if we could feature one of his early New Yorker stories in Line Breaks and he said sure, and suggested “The Line.” So I said fine, can you provide an introductory word? He responded with characteristic minimalism:

I wanted to create a narrative that could be best diagrammed by a straight line. No ascending nor descending action, no gathering complexity, almost no dialogue.

So then I asked if he could perhaps say a little more, and he said:

Why did I want to impose challenging rules on myself? When writing a story is hard enough? When selling a story actually meant rent money, electric and phone bill money? I don’t know. Or I do. Because I had an editor in mind, Frances Kiernan, and I wanted to show off a little for her. She was a mediator, for me, between the bewildering demands of commerce and those of (in quotes and with apologies) art. I thought she might like a story that behaved in an odd way. The story still seems odd to me, three hundred years later, with its I narrator and some other elements I avoided back then.

Please go out and read everything that Jim Robison has ever written.

Line Breaks is a regular feature in which accomplished authors introduce and share their first published stories with the Fictionaut community. Line Breaks is edited by Gary Percesepe. You can read “The Line” on Fictionaut.


  1. Kathy Fish

    This is great and “Mars” is an amazing story. And now you’ve reminded me to read his story collection and his novel. Thank you.

  2. gary percesepe

    kath–you will not be disappointed. wonderful work–

    g

  3. finnegan flawnt

    really lovely “line break”, thank you!

  4. Brandon Hobson

    The Illustrator is one of my favorite novels of all time. Just amazing.

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