Wrote the book

Mark Maynard

We recently featured this author’s collection of short stories, Grind, in our Western Lit feature, (See “Dirty. Real., Sept. 6)”. The book launch party is at Sundance Books, 121 California Ave., at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 6. Here’s a little more insight into a book definitely worth adding to the collection.

I’ve got the feeling that Northern Nevada literary efforts have stepped up in quality in the last year or so. What’s your feeling on this?

I absolutely agree. You’ve got Ben Rogers’ great locally set novel, The Flamer, which I think really captures a Reno a lot of us locals grew up in and around. You’ve got the amazing Battleborn with the Claire Vaye Watkins. You’ve got Christopher Coake [You Came Back]. I think it’s an interesting thing that the movement has just been sort of organic and growing on its own. I don’t think there’s a particular program or single publication or publisher that has sparked this. It’s sort of a grass roots movement. Eventually, you’re going to see it come together, and some of these authors and some of the great resources and teachers in the area will start coming together, and I think that movement is going grow further and get even stronger. It’s an exciting time for literature in Northern Nevada.

What’s next for you? Working on a novel?

I’m actually right now working on a nonfiction book. My father is a Vietnam veteran, and he was in the U.S. Navy in the construction battalions, the Seabees. I have always enjoyed the literature of and about Vietnam, but the interesting thing was all the stories that I heard my father tell were so different from the way I’ve always seen Vietnam in literature and film. That would be a unique story to be able to tell—these Navy people who weren’t ever on ships. They actually wore Marine Corps uniforms and were on Marine Corps bases. They weren’t in combat. They were building—everything from facilities to give villages the ability to have clean water to air strips and bridges. They weren’t combat troops, but they were getting shot at all the time. So I have done a series of interviews with my father and a lot of his colleagues and comrades-at-arms. I’m hoping to turn that into a nonfiction book. I’m currently working on the book proposal and hope to start shopping that around in the next year or so.

Who were your influences?

You actually did a pretty good job of opening that up in your review. I definitely am a Raymond Carver fan. I’ve always been a Hemingway fan. I’m not ashamed to admit, he always comes in and out of style. It becomes a stereotypical thing.

That whole Lost Generation, they created American literature—except for Mark Twain, that is American literature to me.

Absolutely, and I have always liked the short story format, but I really liked the linked short story format that Sherwood Anderson did with Winesburg, Ohio, that Tim O’Brien did with The Things They Carried, and there’s also a terrific one called Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson. Definitely an influence as well. I found when I was trying to do a linked collection of stories that I was not finding a character that the stories congealed around like some of those other ones have. What I realized is the city of Reno was going to be that link, rather than a particular character.