I have the pleasure of welcoming Bruce Boston today. I’ve read his work—poetry and prose— for a few years and I’ve come to expect a unique spin on whatever he’s published. That, paired with a keen insight, never fails to give me a new way to consider things. His new short story collection is Gallimaufry and will be available from Plum White Press this May. While you wait, here’s Bruce on Gallimaufry and other writerly things.
AYS: Your new story collection is titled Gallimaufry. The title interests me. A gallimaufry is either “a confused jumble or medley of things” or “a dish made from diced or minced meat, especially a hash or ragout.” Which of these definitions, if either, could be used to describe this book?
Bruce Boston: Certainly the first definition. Gallimaufry consists of 21 short stories and flash fictions written in many different states of mind and locales over a period of fifty years. There is no overriding theme except variety.
You’ll find science fiction, fantasy, horror, mainstream, humor, and surrealism therein. The second definition could apply metaphorically depending on how much meat (substance) readers find in the entries.
AYS: If you could be a character in any of the stories in Gallimaufry, what story and why?
Bruce Boston: I’d choose the character Mulligan in “Death and the Hippie.” He undergoes an experience that is intense, hallucinatory, frightening, and transformative, and emerges with a greater awareness of both himself and the world around him.
AYS: You are known equally for your poetry and prose. Are they equal parts of you, do they enhance and work in tandem or does one dominate the other?
Bruce Boston: I think I am more known for my poetry than my fiction, and overall poetry has dominated. However, there have been months or even years when I was working on a novel or longer stories that fiction dominated exclusively. However, in both cases, I am basically a storyteller. I think not only my fiction but most of my best poetry, even shorter poems, involve storytelling. To some extent the two forms do work in tandem, in that I’ve turned works that began as poetry into stories, and extracted poems from the text of fiction pieces.
AYS: What is the purpose of writing for you? Compulsion, fame and fortune, self-expression…? What drives the ink from your pen?
Bruce Boston: No compulsion involved. I enjoy getting recognition for my work, but have never sought or wanted fame. It seems to me like more of a burden than an asset. I also enjoy being paid for my work, but have never expected or sought a fortune. If I had, I would have tried to write a bestseller or create a series of books about the same character or set in the same world. I find both of those tasks unappealing.
Self-expression clicks for me as a purpose since writing is one of the main ways I communicate with this strange world in which I find myself. Also, strictly for myself, I enjoy the process of creating and crafting a piece to make it as polished and effective as I possibly can. And finally, reading has given me so much pleasure throughout my life that if I can write a story or poem that brings pleasure to other readers, I view it as a kind of paying-it-forward.
AYS: If you could be anything other than a writer, what would you choose as a career and why?
Bruce Boston: Possibly acting, perhaps a comedic actor. When I young I was too self-conscious to consider this. Now, I think I could do well at it. But alas, that train left the station long ago. Regarding why, the reason has some similarity to one of those for writing listed above. Actors performances have given me lots of pleasure throughout my life, and doing the same successfully for viewers would be returning that pleasure to others.
AYS: How has the pandemic and all the resulting chaos affected your worldview? And your writing?
Bruce Boston: My worldview is much more negative. I always knew there were a lot of ignorant people in the United States, but never realized just how many there were or that they could be so ignorant as to elect and support a president who is no more than a conman, bully, and sociopath.
Likewise, the effect on my writing has been negative. I always find it easier to write when I am in a positive mood rather than a bleak one. I am feeling more positive now that we have a president, whether you agree with him or not, who actually cares about other people and the planet we live on.
AYS: Where and when will we be able to get Gallimaufry? What other projects do you have coming up?
Bruce Boston: Gallimaufry should surface in May and be available on Amazon and elsewhere online. Though given the vagaries of the publishing world, hard to be certain, so I’ll just say soon. I’m also assembling a new poetry collection, working title Echoes & Incarnations. For better or worse, I’ve become a harsher critic of my creative writing over the years so the poetry collection is coming together very slowly.
AYS: Where can we find you? Events, links?
Bruce Boston: You can follow me on Facebook for current news, poems old and new, and occasional humor. Follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/bruce.boston.50. I don’t update my website as often as I once did, but there you can find a comprehensive view of my career as a writer and links to all of my books. Find me online at bruceboston.com.