A long time ago, I accidentally found an amazing little collection of short stories that felt unlike anything I’d read before–and in the best possible way. The book was Invitations to a Bridge Burning, by David Maizenberg, and they profoundly changed the way I think about fiction. I had by that time been through enough college literature classes and enough creative writing workshops that I’d become trained in unpacking not just the literature but also the craft behind the literature. It’s a profound feeling, being able to do that almost on instinct, and it’s highly empowering (and a little dangerous–think Sylar on early Heroes, able to see “how things work” just by looking at them, and then being able to co-opt that mechanism for his own uses; I’ve yet to see a better metaphor for what we do in creative writing pedagogy), but in some ways, being able to understand fiction on that level takes away a little of the magic in the reading experience. David Maizenberg was the first writer to give that magic back to me, because while I was able, after a while, to unpack what his stories were doing, I’ll be damned if I can figure out how he does it. Even today. The man is a wizard.
Anyway, I was so head-over-heels about this book that when I stumbled upon Maizenberg’s e-mail address one day, I wrote him. And, miracle of miracles, he wrote back. Turns out, Dave is a terrific guy, and over the years we’ve swapped more than a few e-mails about this terrifying world of writing we both live in.
Recently, I passed along to Dave the blog project a friend of mine, Ryan Werner, is working on, in which Ryan writes flash fiction based on reader-submitted songs. Dave got inspired, and instead of suggesting a song for Ryan to write a story about, Dave wrote a story himself.
And it is fantastic!
Dave’s been doing other things lately, so there’s not a lot of his fiction out there anymore, but clearly, the magic has not waned. The man is still a wizard.