Brian Evanson

recorded in Providence, RI

 


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Brian Evanson

I’m Brian Evanson, I live in Providence, Rhode Island. I’ve been here about seven and a half years now, which is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere, since I was 12, so I guess it’s home. This is the farthest east I’ve ever lived. I grew up in the West. I’ve lived in a lot of different places—California, Oklahoma; I lived in France; I lived very briefly in Mexico; I lived in Wisconsin. I also lived in Denver, Colorado, just before this. So, I do feel a little bit rootless, in some ways, but also feel pretty connected now, to Providence, as a place.


The Knox Writers’ House

What’s it like to be a writer here?


Evanson

It’s good to be a writer here. Because of Brown and RISD, there’s a really active arts community, and there’s also a really interesting community in the town. A lot of other places I’ve lived—when I was living in Stillwater, Oklahoma—there’s not much going on. Occasionally things would happen at the university, but that was about it. Here, you’re close to New York, so writers come through. There’s stuff going on. I do feel connected to that whole thing in a different way, even though I think I’m a different writer than a lot of the writers who come through.


KWH

What makes you a different writer?


Evanson

I’m not really a New York writer, I suppose. I do feel like my writing is very connected to the West, in some regards, and I also feel like it’s very… I do a lot of things where I play with genre, so there are moments in my work that feel very literary and other moments where it starts to change into something else, something connected to horror or ghost stories or mystery or things like that.


KWH

Do you think there are regional aesthetics?


Evanson

Well, to some degree there are. It is true that it’s not as simple as that because everybody reads pretty widely and crosses those lines. I know almost nobody who just reads work from their region. With the West, my sense was there’s a certain kind of laconic attitude that I think is very different from the more verbally expressive attitude you get in a lot of places in the Northeast. I think there’s a certain amount of fatalism, which is a different kind of fatalism than you have here. So, I think thematic things come up and I think that it’s true that places that you grow up in have a profound effect on you. But when I start to think about who my favorite writers are, they’re from all over, and not even just all over the United States, but all over the world, so that complicates things in a lot of ways. I think that says that, in many ways, if you’re a writer, you both belong to the place you’re part of, and don’t. You’re both a part of that and you’re part of a larger place that consists of writers, and they can be from anywhere.

from The Fixed Stars by Brian Conn

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