Author Robert Lopez on his publishing his new collection, GOOD PEOPLE

Robert Lopez's amazing new short story collection, Good People, has been praised for its tight prose and disturbing yet humorous narratives. One of Lopez's many gifts is being able to make accessible, through humor and wit, what might otherwise frighten us.  Good People makes us question our own ideas about morality and the weight of our thoughts and actions, all the while entertaining us with the plights of others.

 

We had the opportunity to ask Robert Lopez a few questions of our own about his writing process, putting together a collection of stories, and his experience publishing with Bellevue Press. 

Rachel Sherman: Can you describe your process writing Good People? How did the stories come together in a collection?

Robert Lopez: I never try to write for a collection. At some point there are enough stories for a book and it's a matter of figuring out which ones belong together. A number of stories in the book have the words "good people" in them and there is a running concern about people being "good", whatever that might mean. This is how the book came together. There is one story in Good People that was first drafted in 1996. There's another one or two in there from that same period, more or less. Those stories didn't make it into Asunder, the first collection that came out in 2010, obviously. And there are stories that didn't make it into Good People that will find their way into the next collection.

If there is a next collection.

Your publisher, Bellevue Press is "the first and only nonprofit press publishing at the arts-sciences nexus." Since 2007, they have been publishing prize-winning books that address the “big questions” of the human condition while promoting literature and the humanities to the science and medical communities and science literacy to a general readership. How did you come to publish with them?

Bellevue is a great press, a Class A operation. And that is due to their phenomenal founder and leader, the publisher and editor, Erika Goldman. I met Erika a few years back and we struck up a friendship. We'd talked about maybe working together one day and finally that day came. I'm very grateful and couldn't be happier with all they have done. 

Robert Lopez is the author of two novels, Part of the World and Kamby Bolongo Mean River, and two story collections, Asunder and Good People (forthcoming from Bellevue Literary Press). Among other places, his fiction has appeared in the American ReaderBOMBBrooklyn RailHobartIndiana ReviewLiterarianNerveNew York TyrantVice, and the Norton anthology Sudden Fiction Latino. He lives in Brooklyn and teaches fiction writing at The New School, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, and the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College.

GOOD PEOPLE by ROBERT LOPEZ
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press (December 21, 2015)

“Lopez’s methodical narrators will draw comparisons to Beckett, but they also share DNA with the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, showcasing out-of-touch anxiety cases in all their poetically elliptical glory. . . . Lopez has the ability to give the reader whiplash with his unconventional and bewitching stories.” —Los Angeles Times

“These [stories are] trance-like rants, full of strange dark bitter, bitter comedy.

Nobody else does whatever the hell it is [Lopez]’s doing better than he does.” —BOMB magazine

“Read [Good People] to stumble into the sunlight afterward. . . . Depressing, inventive, and marvelous—a thought-provoking path to feeling awful.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Tightly knit. . . . Recommended for lovers of darkly humorous, strangely illuminating fiction.” —Booklist

“Personalities ranging from the amusingly neurotic to the borderline psychotic shape the 20 quirky stories in this collection. . . . Lopez shows uncommon skill at evoking both laughs and shudders, sometimes in the same story.” —Publishers Weekly

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