Louise Marburg is a graduate of the MFA program in Fiction at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Her work has appeared in Labletter, Reed, Day One, Necessary Fiction, Corium, The Louisville Review, Cold Mountain Review, and others, and in the Lascaux Prize Anthology. She has been a contributor at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and a member of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She lives with her husband, the painter Charles Marburg, in New York City.
Read “The Three Stages of Fat” in Issue Six
TCR: What was the origin of “The Three Stages of Fat” and your interest in the protagonist’s diagnosis?
Louise Marburg: I have a friend who was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is not rare, but not widely known, either. PCOS has some of the same symptoms as the fictional Baum-Friezinger Syndrome, one of which is the tendency to gain a lot of weight. People think that fat is a result of overeating, but that’s not always the case!
TCR: Weight is something our culture is obsessed with, but talking about it frankly is taboo. Were there particular challenges to writing about such a hushed subject?
LM: I didn’t feel I was writing about a taboo subject, though I agree that our culture is obsessed. That obsession is obviously the center of the story, Irene being the most obsessed, and suffering for it.
TCR: Did anything surprise you while writing this story?
LM: I am always surprised by my stories. I never plan or plot, I just follow my nose and do what the characters tell me and what I unconsciously tell myself. It’s incredibly fun, but takes patience and trust. I can’t think of any particular thing that surprised me in the story; I was surprised by the whole thing.
TCR: Tell me about two or three other short story writers you admire.
LM: Many years ago, I picked up Alice Munro’s The Moons of Jupiter, and by the time I finished it, I knew I wanted to write short fiction. She, of course, is a master. I am a huge fan of John Cheever, Richard Bausch, Tessa Hadley, George Saunders, among a zillion others. I try to read a short story a day at least, no matter what else I am reading.
TCR: Your husband is a painter. What are some complications and/or perks of a two artist household?
LM: My husband and I work within sight of each other in a loft in Manhattan, and I can’t imagine not having him within shouting distance all the time. A perk of having a creative spouse, and being a creative spouse, is that we are each other’s best critics. My husband reads everything I write, often more than once. My background is in the visual arts, so I am equally useful in judging his work. We are pretty much together all the time, which would drive some people crazy, but we love it.
TCR: What project(s) are you working on?
LM: I have recently finished a collection entitled The Truth About Me. It’s an eclectic collection, the stories aren’t linked or cohere in any obvious way, and because of that, it’s turning out to be a very hard sell! I’m only writing stories for the foreseeable future — I’ve written novels, but I vastly prefer stories.