On local author Bradley Bazzle’s website, reviews and synopses of his work fill the page.
“The stories in ‘Fathers of Cambodian Time-Travel Science’ mix past and future for a delightful, alchemical mixture of realism and complete bullshit,” wrote Bazzle in the “About the Book” column on his newest book.
The book, which won the C&R Press Fiction Award, hit the shelves in September. The Red & Black spoke with Bazzle, a UGA alumnus, about the collection of short stories and his writing process.
The Red & Black: First, could you talk a bit about your new book, “Fathers of Cambodian Time-Travel Science?”
Bradley Bazzle: It is a short story collection. The title story, “Fathers of Cambodian Time-Travel Science,” is actually a novella, which is quite a bit longer than the other stories. Most of the stories, or about half of them, take place in either Texas— I grew up in Dallas— or Georgia. The title story takes place in the Atlanta area. There's a little bit of time travel in that story and also in another story, so I guess there's kind of light science fiction elements throughout. The stories have been published in literary journals over the last 10 years or so.
R&B: How is your approach different when working on short stories as opposed to longer pieces, like your novel “Trash Mountain?”
BB: You know my process is pretty similar regardless of what I'm working on. The big difference— and this is kind of obvious but I'll talk about it anyway because I don't know if it's typical for everybody— but I like to go through the entire draft. So, if I'm working on a novel, I’ll read the whole thing and then go through it very slowly from beginning to end. When you're working on a novel, just going through one draft can take a few months. Sometimes you're just not in the mood to do that again; you don't have kind of the intellectual bandwidth to do that. So it's nice to have stories that you can get through in a week or two. Something I've been doing in recent years is toggling back and forth between novel projects and short story projects. I'll go through a draft of a novel and be kind of drained from that and maybe sick of those characters and what's going on in the novel, and then if I could change gears like if I have a couple of stories I've been working on it's nice to maybe spend, you know, a month or two on short stories then move back and forth that way.
R&B: Do you prefer working on the short stories or novels more, do you have a favorite?
BB: In recent years, I've been preferring working on novels for the same reason that I think most people prefer to read novels, which is that you can kind of get lost in the world of the novel. It's a more immersive experience when you're in the thick of it with a novel. You can go back every day and pick up where you left off, whereas if you're working on something short and you come to the end of it, there's this period of limbo where you have to gear up to dive into something else. It's a little bit harder to lose yourself in short story projects. Just recently, for whatever reason, the last few months— it might have something to do with the election and pandemic, [I’ve been] just feeling a little fried— I found reading and writing short stories to be a little bit more gratifying. I only read things that I know I’ll like. I've kind of given myself that gift in recent months, so I've been reading a lot of Alice Munro and Gerald Murnane, and Patrick Modiano is a French writer, he writes very short novels, kind of novellas I guess. Reading those sorts of things gives me ideas. Sometimes I'll be reading, like a Munro collection, and think, “Oh, you know, the structure of the story kind of relates to an idea I had years ago, and maybe I'll try to write that now.”
R&B: How did the pandemic impact your plans for launching “Fathers of Cambodian Time-Travel Science,” and what has the response towards the book been like so far?
BB: Yeah, [it] impacted my plans for launching the book. But I wonder if people will get around to reading it more quickly. People I know who are readers have kind of ramped up their reading because there are fewer options for leisure right now. I did kind of a mini reading tour with “Trash Mountain,” maybe six readings and six different cities and here I've only been able to do one via [Avid Bookshop] on Zoom. Pete McCommons, the editor of the Flagpole read it and wrote a little write-up a couple of weeks ago in the Flagpole, which was cool. And then I gave it to some other writers to blurb it before it came out and they reacted positively, but I wouldn't have given them the book if I didn't know that they would, so not the best example maybe. Actually, it's new enough that only a couple of my friends have even written me to say “Hey,” you know, “read this, it was great.” So we’ll see.
R&B: Are you working on anything currently, or planning to start working on something soon?
BB: I’m kind of between drafts of a novel, but I put the novel aside a few months ago and have been working on some stories. I'm kind of toggling back and forth between two short stories right now. We went on vacation a couple months ago just to get out of town— my wife and I were both still working and my daughter was doing online school— but we went to a beach in South Carolina. I didn't have my computer—I work on a desktop computer— so I used the week or so we were there to go through some of my notes and just jot down some ideas by hand, you know, just putting pen to paper which I don't do very often, but it was pretty productive. And so I've been working on a few of those ideas since we got back.