Interview with Vincent Scarpa
1/The success of “God Is in Agriculture” depends on the cyclical failure we experience regardless of our pursuits, but also on the cyclical optimism that encourages us to continue. Tony has learned to accept the former, whereas Linda acknowledges the latter instinctively. How much of their conflict stems from their mismatched perspectives?
I’m glad that’s how the story is working. I think I’ve experienced my fair share of false optimism (inspired or uninspired, really) and there’s something so beautiful about the way we hope; that hopefulness is really a part of the human condition, even when the chances don’t look so hot. As far as Tony and Linda go, I think much of their quiet conflict rests on how much or how little they are willing to hope individually, and as a couple. I certainly hope they make it.
2/You’ve created a parallel between what is quantifiable and what requires blind trust. “Tony doesn’t have faith in the corn, not an ounce of it.” Is this application of faith indicative of his implicit hope?
Absolutely. You’ve nailed it. If the story works, I think what I was hoping to get across is that Tony is a character of multitudes and has sort of trained himself not to be hopeful. In this way, he’s probably not the most reliable narrator—he’s a bit pessimistic maybe. And that makes you sort of evaluate the narration as a whole. Were the days in Indiana really that dry? Is the harvest really going to yield poor results?
3/Your language is rife with metaphor: the unreachable shards, the disposable mosaic, a child “of corn and loss and God.” It’s obvious that content is crucial in any work of prose, but how important is lyricism in your work?
That’s so funny that you say that. When I first turned this story in for workshop, I had so many comments that basically amounted to: this doesn’t really sound like you. “God Is in Agriculture” is the only story of mine that I think has noticeably pretty phrasing. I’m just not very good at it.
4/Sum up your work in apt in five words: go!
Can I just change that line from “The Lottery?” Baby in June, corn harvest soon. I guess that’s a cop-out.
Vincent Scarpa’s story “God Is in Agriculture” appeared in the first print issue of apt, which can be purchased here.