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Texas Book Festival — San Antonio Edition

Interview with Nan Cuba

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

You Can’t Go Home Again: Fiction about Family Secrets with Nan Cuba and Andrew Porter
Moderator: David Martin Davies

Nan Cuba, professor of English at Our Lady of the Lake University and founder of Gemini Ink, began her career as an investigative journalist; after obtaining her MFA, she began publishing poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews in journals such as the Bloomsbury Review and Descant. Cuba’s debut novel, Body and Bread, which comes May 2013 from Engine Books, examines the effects of suicide on family survivors through a story that ranges from the questions of childhood to the challenges of aging. Watch Cuba and Andrew Porter, author of the novel In Between Days, talk about letting family secrets out of the bag this Saturday. Cuba spoke with the Current about her new book, and what she’s working on now. 10-11 a.m., Gallery Shop, Ursuline Campus

Interview with Nan Cuba

By Scott Andrews

You founded San Antonio’s writing center, Gemini Ink. But before that, you were a journalist. What did you cover?
I sure was, an untrained journalist who was lucky. I was a contributing editor for about five years at San Antonio Magazine and San Antonio Monthly. Then I went to New York, interviewed with editors, and ended up co-writing a series of articles about mass murder and the origins of extraordinary violence for Life magazine and Psychology Today. That’s the subject of my next book — it was a wild ride.

In Body and Bread, you open up some private wounds. Why in the world did you go there?
I had a brother who committed suicide; without me actually planning it, that became the main purpose of the story. Years ago, I wrote a short story about a brother and a sister, it’s now the scene in the first chapter of Body and Bread, where he cuts open a fish. It had a lot of response. I didn’t know that I was drawing on memories of my brother—that never happened. And a friend of mine said that I couldn’t use it — it was too similar to a Katherine Anne Porter story called “The Grave.” I was shocked by that; of course I’ve read all of her work. Porter is a real influence for me, but I had not been conscious of that. I was very bothered, so I went back and looked at the story, and what stood out to me was that it is a brother-sister story, and the brother in the Porter story is named Paul. And my brother was named Paul. So, I knew that something had happened when I read the Porter story. I was very worried in the beginning that people would make that association, then I realized that I am writing to find out how and why he did this, and who was responsible. And now that it is done, and I am talking about it to people, I also want people to see the kind of damage that is done to people left behind.

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