It’s my honour to welcome Alex Pruteanu, author of Short Lean Cuts to the blog, and talk to him about his latest book.
My review of Short Lean Cuts is at the bottom of this pos.
Hi Alex, Thanks for agreeing to do this Q & A on your book “Short Lean Cuts”, welcome to my blog!
So cutting straight to the questions then:
TW: Tell me a little about your book, what’s it about and where did the inspiration come from?
AP: Thanks for shooting off these questions, Alan. I appreciate you giving me the time and the forum to talk a bit about this. First of all, Short Lean Cuts is a novella…it’s quite compact, and that’s a good thing. The prose style is very short, very lean, very staccato and direct. I don’t think the style would’ve worked as well had this been a full on novel. I tried to create a style that reads a bit more modern, more fragmented…almost in a way that most people think in the 21st Century. The story is a confessional of sorts, or a manifesto that is being left behind by the main character; a narcissistic, hypochondriac, perhaps mentally unstable ex-academic who has decided to sell himself as a product in exchange for face-time/air time on television, and the documentation of what he believes is a sort of skewed or obtuse resolution to his life and his ambitions. It’s a satire examining issues like consumerism in the USA, self-importance, and the concept of exploiting ourselves and our lives in exchange for notoriety and press. I was motivated to touch on these issues by realising how the human psyche was being driven and pushed via social networks and outlets for exposure and/or expostulation–like “reality shows.”
TW: Now, reading Short Lean Cuts there are some quite hard scenes in there, and it’s probably not everyone’s cup-of-tea. Who should read your book and why or why not?
AP: The work does examine some nasty, seedy, fetishistic sides of ourselves, sure, but I’d say other than children under the age of 18, I don’t see any reason why most people couldn’t handle reading this book. I think we get to see enough truth in the novel to make some of us uncomfortable…but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I’ve personally never had any problems being pushed outside what I find comfortable whether in art, music, or writing…and often times I’ve appreciated the shove toward positions I may have thought too extreme or too shocking. I think it’s an artist’s job to move things forward, to progress. Nothing in this book, in my opinion, exists to merely shock for some kind of gratuitous value. Everything that happens has motivation and reason, I believe.
TW: You’ve been writing on your website (S)wine: ShortLeanCuts I think since 2007, tell me a little about how your writing has evolved from writing short fiction on the web to the genesis of Short Lean Cuts.
AP: In fact I’ve been writing in the online medium since spring of 2004, but my fiction site has undergone a few different name changes and maybe format changes. I initially wrote what became Short Lean Cuts in small bursts—individually-named stories, mainly due to limited amounts of time. But I also wrote with the idea of one day unifying the small flash fiction bits (each chapter could originally stand as its own short, flash story) into a larger whole. Each chapter appeared on my site as an distinctive piece in the span of one year in 2007. When I undertook the process of bringing everything together, I re-wrote each chapter and filled in what I thought were some blanks or some holes. At this point, I no longer believe each chapter could be plucked out of the book and stand concretely as a complete short story; everything is tied logically now, with every chapter propping up the theme of the book.
TW: Short Lean Cuts was available first as an e-book on kindle and nook. Did this sort of publishing make it easier for you to bring the book to market, and did it help to make the paperback edition a reality or did you always plan to have a print version?
AP: The process of bringing this book out to the public was blistering fast, when we talk about the general timeline of books being released. I think it was within four or five weeks of my decision to make this available that the ebook was on sale for the Kindle and the Nook worldwide. The tools available for e-publishing on Amazon and Barnes & Noble are amazing for authors now, and amazingly simple, as well. Indeed, my original idea was to release this book in paperback version, but I quickly changed my mind, seeing the trend, and sale of ebooks in 2011. And so I produced and formatted it for electronic devices and scrapped the idea of a paper product. But to my surprise, there was a big demand for the paperback version as well. I ran into a lot of people who preferred to have a ‘real product’ to hold and to leaf through, to carry, to bend, to underline or highlight. So I decided to publish that myself, as well. After investigating a couple of options, I decided to go with Amazon Publishers. And with the help of my wife, we produced and laid out the manuscript, and we designed the front and back cover, before Amazon approved the copy and manufactured the book. It wasn’t an overly complicated process, but we did make a few mistakes and had to go back to the drawing board a couple of times. Overall it was a brilliant experience and we learned so much from bringing this project to fruition.
TW: So what next? Is there a Short Lean Cuts #2 in the pipeline or do you have another project in mind?
AP: Well it’s funny you mention a continuation of this idea. I am in the process of outlining a probable spin off for one of the characters in Short Lean Cuts. The style of prose would be more in the “classical vein” and this would be a full on novel, instead of the short work that Short Lean Cuts is. And on the quite distant horizon there is a personal work called “Resident Alien,” which is currently undergoing some major changes in ideas and concept. That being said, unless something astronomically lucky happens with a major publishing house (I’m not holding my breath), all of my future projects will be independently produced and published. I love the process, I love the author royalties, and I love the editorial freedom. I am not forced to write under guidelines of a major corporation whose only goal is to make money. While I fully realize a book is a product like any other product, and it must sell, I am not willing to make the major concessions and changes that most Big House Publishers ask of their authors.
TW: When you’re reading rather than writing, what do you choose, and who are your favourite authors?
AP: I grew up idolizing Ernest Hemingway and what he did for the English language. As a teen, I was enamored with his sparse style, yet heavy emotion that somehow exuded from in between the lines. I was also enamored with his contemporaries: F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, and William Carlos Williams. Some of my favourite authors are Albert Camus, Kafka, Charles Bukowski, Ferdinand Celine, Raymond Carver, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Thomas Mann, and Jose Saramago. Lately, I’ve been enjoying very much the works of Yann Martel, Michael Chabon, and Chuck Palahniuk. I love the poetry of Anne Sexton and Dorothy Parker, and the plays of Lillian Hellman.
You can buy Short Lean Cuts:
On kindle (US)
On kindle (UK)
Short Lean Cuts by Alex M. Pruteanu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This tale is no three little pigs nursery rhyme, or Babe. This is closer to Piggy in Lord of the Flies.
Looking at the darker side of life and characters this book is as strong and shocking as it is well written. Dark in places it is probably not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but it does come recommended.
View all my reviews