I started reading Jessica Westhead‘s collection of short stories, And Also Sharks, around the same time as David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. They accompanied each other nicely, and both dealt with different aspects of Office Life – DFW’s massive tome is about boredom and the IRS, while Jessica’s stories are often about the petty, but real dramas that arise when you’re forced to spend 8 hours a day with people you wouldn’t normally choose to be friends with. It’s funny, work, how most of us spend significant chunks of our lives doing it, and yet it’s so rarely written about in fiction. I wanted to talk to Jessica about this. (Incidentally: while I devoured AAS in a week, I’m still 200 pages short on The Pale King. I’m getting there, I’m getting there.)
Actually, I just wanted to talk to her, period. If you aren’t familiar with Jessica Westhead, she’s as sweet and down-to-earth as they come. And funny! And Also Sharks is hilarious – dark, and sometimes crushingly sad – but mixed in with all of that, funny. On top of all of that, she’s also one of the founders behind the Year of the Short Story initiative, which we talk about below. There’s also some talk about a llama, but I’ll let you read that one yourself. There are a lot of links in this interview too – why don’t you kill a little time at your day job and check them all out, yeah?