The stories in Don’t Ask Me to Spell It Out, Robert James Russell’s new chapbook out this month from WhiskeyPaper Press, follow a narrator perpetually on the verge. Over the course of 12 interlinked vignettes we see him come of age and stumble, get up and brush it off, always moving toward a greater understanding of what it means to be a son, a friend, a lover, a man. Russell is a quintessentially midwestern writer, and those who attended the recent Voices of the Middle West literary festival in Ann Arbor may remember him as a critical force in that conference—he helped bring in Stuart Dybek as the keynote speaker and organized panels featuring writers such Alissa Nutting and Laura Kasischke.
by Nathan Go
Over coffee and pan de guava, I talked to Chelsea about her chapbook, the writing process, art and porn, living in Brooklyn, and direct sentences. I transcribed the interview, and—for a little bit of creative fun—allowed her to rearrange the answers, edit them in her writing style, and omit my questions, with the condition that the result should be closer to the heart of our discussion rather than further from it.