My CutBank Interview with Keith Lesmeister

Thanks to Barry Maxwell and CutBank Literary Magazine for allowing me to interview my friend Keith Lesmeister about his new collection of stories, We Could’ve Been Happy Here (published by Midwest Gothic Press). Lesmeister lives and works in rural northeast Iowa, and all 12 of these stories explore the contemporary Midwest in some way. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

DL: I wanted to ask you about the stories all being set in Iowa, which is your home state. The idea of the Mid-West is apparent in a lot of your work, especially in regards to how you create a sense of place to inform and impact your characters. Do you find it easy or difficult to write about this region that you call home?

KL: Very difficult because I’m from here, which means I take a lot for granted. I’ve had to readjust how I interpret my surroundings, thinking of myself like a tourist when I drive around, trying to take it all in. And despite the stereotypes, several parts of Iowa are quite beautiful. That’s been a big surprise for me as I’ve written this collection—how much I truly love the landscape around here.

It’s funny for this to come as a surprise to Lesmeister because when you’re reading his work, it’s pretty obvious how much to loves the place he’s writing about.

There’s also more in the interview about his love of basketball, and there’s some talk about how difficult it can be to herd cattle. Please read the entire piece at CutBank Online

Lesmeister’s fiction and nonfiction have been widely published, and We Could’ve Been Happy Here has received praise from writers such as Benjamin Percy and David Gates. Bret Anthony Johnston said, “These are brutal stories—brutally good, brutally urgent, brutally hopeful.”

Most importantly, be sure to buy the book.  You won’t be sorry.

Keith - full-cover-final-880x629.png

Recommended Reading 9/9/2016

If you’re looking for something good to read this weekend, here are several worthy options:

Poetry lovers should check out Cassie Pruyn‘s three poems that were included as part of CutBank’s “All Accounts and Mixture” online series:

And Tanya Grae has some beautiful new work online at Agni and at Fjords Review: and

And be sure to read a new poem by Larry Thacker‘s in The Rappahannock Review:

If Creative Non-Fiction is more your style, you should read Elizabeth Glass’s essay “A Series of Almosts” online at The Manifest-Station:

And Susan Pagani has a wonderful essay, “On Living with Geese,” online at Switchback:

Corina Zappia wrote a fantastic review of Seattle restaurants in The Stranger: I promise it’s a fun read, even if you won’t be in Seattle anytime soon.