Matt Briggs + “Hunger” = MB8:

Posted By jatyler - 2nd September 2011

‘Hunger’ utilizes 28 condensed moments instead of the expected 10 fingers – how important is the incremental process of this piece?

In writing I was interested in the mundane way in which abuse can permeate a relationship. The first event might be shocking, but gradually I think a couple can contextualize nearly anything and whatever it is that is happening just becomes something that happens.

Can you talk to us a little about the disparity between Lindsay’s hunger (desire / drive) with the narrator’s peacefulness (dishes sutra)?

I was reading about mindfulness and various Bhuddist practices in regard to addressing what they see as the principle cause of suffering in humanity, namely desire. A monk I was taking classes from told a story about the founder of Zen Bhuddism and how the founder achieved enlightenment and immunity from desire and hunger.  He spent nine years meditating in a cave and the founder’s leg’s rotted off. The monk who told the story laughed about this. He had a kind of dark sense of humor, I guess.  But in reading about mindfulness, I learned how to produce a state of calm. The first success I had was in doing the dishes. I’d read an essay by Thich Nhat Hanh. But it occurred to me virtually anything could be tolerated in this way. Not just the unpleasant tasks of doing the dishes. Thick Nhat Hanh has taught mindfulness to prisoners, for instance, in order for them to develop the skills to be happy while in prison. It seems to me there is a point where what passes as enlightenment in Bhuddism or peacefulness is actually a form of dissociation and escapism.

What are you hungry for linguistically?

I remain very unsure about the role of sentences and the degree to which syntax should be a primary interest for a prose writer. While I admire Gertrude Stein and Gary Lutz and feel a degree of debt to their exploration of syntax, I find myself equally drawn to writers who are not really concerned with syntactical novelty. For example, Stephen Dixon isn’t a particularly innovative writer of sentences or short passages in the way that Gary Lutz is, but then his plain spoken narrators often support very strange and to me insightful ways of structuring stories. So I can’t put my finger on a kind of linguistic trait that I desire either for my own writing or writing that I find compelling to read. I think it has to do with a less linguistic element, although it finds its expression in sentences and stories, and that would be I think engagement by the writer with how sentences and story relate to experience. When I read something I kind of want the end result to be that my world has expanded somehow, and I guess I feel the writer is kind of a guide into unexplored territory.

What are you hungry for food-wise?

I am a carnivore. I like meat. Right now I am hungry I think for something that has been seasoned and cooked on a spit over flames.

You are the author of two novels and four story collections – if a reader wants more Matt Briggs where is the best place to start?

You can read my two novels online at the Publication Studio in their reading commons. You can also purchase the books there if you feel so inclined either for your digital reading device or as a paperback book printed to order and hand bound at the studio.

The Strong Man:

Shoot the Buffalo:

Thanks for your questions.

Read “Hunger” and 21 other great pieces in Monkeybicycle8, available here.