“The Unknown Became the Central Part.” Matthew Vollmer on His New Memoir
In Conversation with Alex Higley and Lindsay Hunter on I'm a Writer But
Welcome to I’m a Writer But, where two writers—and talk to other writers—and about their work, their lives, their other work, the stuff that takes up any free time they have, all the stuff they’re not able to get to, and the ways in which any of us get anything done. Plus: book recommendations, bad jokes, okay jokes, despair, joy, and anything else we’ve got going on that week. Hosted by Lindsay Hunter and Alex Higley.
In this episode, Matthew Vollmer (All of Us Together in the End) talks to us about his new memoir, living and writing in mystery, discovering creative nonfiction, writing about family, writing about the pandemic, and more!
From the episode:
I had been trying to write a memoir of my time in the Adventist church, and in my Adventist family, for many years. I had literally delivered a version of that book to my agent a few days before my mom died. I knew she was going to die, but I didn’t know how I was going to feel after she died.
I certainly didn’t know there was going to be this weird phenomenon I was going to have to deal with, and that was going to draw me and my father closer in these initial stages. Once the lights showed up, it was a completely different book, a completely different structure, because the unknown became the central part.
Matthew Vollmer is the author of two short-story collections—Future Missionaries of America and Gateway to Paradise—as well as three collections of essays—inscriptions for headstones, Permanent Exhibit, and This World Is Not Your Home: Essays, Stories, & Reports. He was the editor of A Book of Uncommon Prayer, which collects invocations from over 60 acclaimed and emerging authors, and served as co-editor of Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts. His work has appeared in venues such as Paris Review, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, Tin House, Oxford American, The Sun, The Pushcart Prize anthology, and Best American Essays. He teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Tech, where he is a Professor of English. His next book, All of Us Together in the End, will be published by Hub City Press in April.