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A Conversation with Edmund Sandoval

To usher in his stint as Monthly Guest Blog Editor on The Spark, EDMUND SANDOVAL talks to Edmund Sandoval about running, books he’s read, his workspace, and not writing a novel. Edmund lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in The Minnesota Review, The Common, Fourteen Hills, and The Mud Season Review, among others. He earned his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

I was supposed to meet the sometimes-writer Edmund Sandoval at the café around the corner from his house. But I ran into him on the sidewalk. He was wearing dark blue corduroys and an old gray T-shirt and hadn’t had a shave in weeks. I started the interview right then and there, before he could slither out of the commitment.

EDMUND SANDOVAL: You’re much taller than I thought you would be. I really thought you would be shorter.
EDMUND SANDOVAL: Wow, thanks for noticing. I think all my photos are from the waist up. I could say the same for you. I don’t think you’ll be suiting up for the varsity squad any time soon.

I guess we do have the same build, kind of. But, hey, I roam the perimeter, by the way. Three points are better than two.
How about you start again? I mean, like, ask me how I am.

Yeah, sorry. It’s just when I was crossing the street and saw you standing there, I was all like: Is that he standing there? From your description in that email you sent, I thought, well. So, how are you?
I’m fine. I’m tired. I ran ten miles yesterday and now, well, I could be better. My body’s in an uproar. But mentally, I am A-okay. I’m ready to do this.

Hey! I ran ten miles yesterday, too. But I feel great.
Oh. Yeah. Hmm. Well, it was sunny and I don’t do well in the sun and I stepped on this piece of glass in my apartment and it was in there, and. But how about some softballs?

Yeah. So, brass tacks. Read any good books lately?
I have, I have. One was The Revelator. It was great. Very primitive in a frontier, struck-by-the-word-of-the-Almighty kind of way.

I read that, too. You could smell the hot cinders and brimstone even with the A/C on.
I also read Haints Stay. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

I do recall reading about the world’s saddest pig slaughter…
Yeah, there was that, but more.

Survival and loneliness and togetherness and all that.

But what about yourself?
What do you mean, Yourself?

Like writing and all that crud?
I suppose I’ve been working. But it’s been slow. I just recently said to this story: Hey, mister, you’re done! And it acquiesced for a time, then said, No, I’m not. But now it’s done. There’s another one I’ve been chipping away at for what seems like years.

Actual years, maybe?
Maybe. No. But it feels like years! Kind of how that splinter felt. Felt like I figured out a couple steps, felt a little confidence, got the regular knee bend into it, then, shabam, sharp pains and cussing!

Cussing, yep. Not good. So what’s this glass splinter story all about, anyhow?
Oh, it’s about just this guy who has a bird living in his head. I know all about that part. I just don’t know how he—they—ought to end up. It’s been driving me nuts. But I’m going to be doing a brief residency on the Washington coast soon. I’m thinking that’s going to be helpful. I think that’s going to give me the old lift-and-over-the-hump.

That sounds pretty good. Waves and the like.
So, yeah, it’s been kind of a slow year. But that’s not too bad. Lots of time to look at the internal machinery. All the bits and bobs.

Hey, so I’ve got to get going here in a sec, but I wanted to ask you one last thing.
Yeah, I need to be somewhere soon, so. Go ahead. Shoot.

Is it true you don’t have a desk or workspace or anything? No hard surface to put your typing machine on?
Uh-huh, yeah, it’s true. I do all of my work either while seated on the big gray chair or the couch or while in bed. I need to be comfortable. And not feel like I’m at work.

And one more? I understand you’re not working on a book or anything.
That is correct. That is true.

Well, good luck with that.
Thank you. It’s going great.

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