WITH COMMENTS FROM GREG AND CINCINNATI REVIEW’S FICTION EDITOR, BROCK CLARKE.
Brock Clarke: We’ve published two stories by Greg Baxter, “Dead-End MF” and “Two Incidents in the Hindu Kush”—the latter about the war in Afghanistan, and the former about a screw-up who wants to throw a big party. They sound like they couldn’t be more different, but both stories have big things on their minds (war in one, race in the other) and both are entirely irreverent—brutal in places, hilarious in others—in their pursuit of these big things. I loved both of them. They’re exactly the kind of stories we want to publish at CR: stories that have something to say that runs counter to the way these things are normally said, stories that might get the writer and the publisher in trouble.
Greg Baxter: “Dead-End MF” and “Two Incidents in the Hindu Kush” both mark the relative high points of two early phases in my writing. They were composed only months apart but were inspired by different influences and interests. “Dead-End MF” was written during a profound personal low, and was part of series of stories about losers in bad jobs or with no jobs. I spent about eight months working in a TV news station in Baton Rouge as the web guy. Elements of the story, including the fact that I had to change the date on every story every morning, and played video games all day, and the presence of the nappy-headed pot smoker, are entirely true. The fictionalized aspects of the story allowed me to introduce the question of race, which was something I wanted to explore. The personal low, curiously, did not hit until after I left that job and found myself unemployed in Dublin, Ireland, working several even more demeaning jobs. I turn all my personal lows into writing, so I don’t throw myself into the sea wearing a pair of flatirons. “Two Incidents in the Hindu Kush” was written about twelve months later, as part of series of stories about war. I had, like a lot of people, become deadened by headlines, and I wanted, in whatever limited way that was available to me, to try and repersonalize violence.
Click below to read the stories in full:
TWO INCIDENTS IN THE HINDU KUSH