Category Archives: Press 53

An Interview with Tara L. Masih

Hi everyone….for those you enjoyed my review of “Where the Dog Star Never Glows” by Tara L. Masih, here is a short interview I managed to conduct with her via mail. You can alternatively also visit her website on : http://www.taramasih.com/ or read my review of the book here

For now here is the interview:

Most of the stories in the collection seem to speak of the condition of loneliness. Was this intentional when you started off writing the stories? Why the consistent pangs of loneliness running through the book? 

I’m attracted to writing about loners, characters on the fringe of society. I think their situations make all their emotions, not just ones of loneliness, more enhanced. And while I don’t specifically tackle the issue of loneliness, I think most of the struggle of humanity is to find some connection to the outside world and to find something that fills the open hole inside that we all have as separate human beings. People find all sorts of intriguing ways to fill the hole, and that’s often what fascinates me, whether or not it’s successful on the part of the character. 

Tara the writer… 

…deep, thoughtful, empathic, sensual, and still learning. 

Tara the reader… 

…fascinated, curious, searching, looking to get lost for a time.

Tara Masih, Writer Editor

 Why short stories to begin with? Was there a specific reason? 

I didn’t set out to write short stories. I only was exposed to writing them in high school when I took creative writing. And in English, we were introduced to Herman Melville, Flannery O’Connor, and J. D. Salinger. This was the beginning of discovering a form that could do what a novel did in a compressed space. It was more achievable to students, as well. Much easier to complete in a term and to critique in class. After this exposure, I was hooked.

Tara’s all-time favourite short stories… 

Way too many to list. But the ones that had the most impact and have lingered over the years include Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Jayne Anne Phillips’s “Country,” Rick Bass’s “The Watch,” and Anthony Doerr’s “The Shell Collector.” But there are hundreds.

Your personal favourite story from the collection and why? 

“The Dark Sun.” It’s one of those stories that seemed almost magically to write itself. I wish more stories came to me as easily as this one did. It was a gift.

Do you take a lot of time to structure and write a story? What is the entire process like for you?

No, I’m pretty instinctive and just start writing when I have a voice. I let the character take me where she or he wants to go. There are times when I know how the story will end, but still, I write to find my way to that end.

Was any story autobiographical/experience first-hand in nature? Does art often imitate life in your works?

Many of the stories are based on firsthand experiences at the geographic locations. I’ve traveled to most of the states or countries where the stories are set, and some of the travel experiences–in terms of sites and sounds and smells–come directly from these places. For instance, I did go snorkeling at the Champagne Springs in Dominica, and I did visit a ghost town in Montana. But the stories themselves are complete fiction. Does art imitate life in my stories? I hope so; I think all writers strive for that, not necessarily to imitate their own lives but to capture the lives of others. However, I think it’s for the reader to decide what’s within the stories. After I publish a story, in some ways it’s no longer mine.

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Book Review: Where the Dog Star Never Glows: Stories by Tara L. Masih


Title:
Where the Dog Star Never Glows
Author: Tara L. Masih
Publisher: Press 53
Genre: Short Stories
ISBN: 9780982576052
PP: 143
Price: $14.00
Source: The Author
Rating: 5/5

So here is the deal: I think it is very difficult to write a short story than a novel and it is true. A Novel probably has more life than a story and for an author to successfully manage to engrain a story in the reader’s head is a task of great proportions. I for one love the short story reading as a genre. What I most enjoy is the writer’s capability to say it all in a span of say three pages or sometimes even lesser than that. Someone once asked me if I had read Ulysses by Joyce and I promptly said “No”. Well I was given the scorn of the century, and yet my thoughts on “The Dead” as a story saved my skin in that discussion. It isn’t easy to write a short story and with this thought I start my review of “Where the Dog Star Never Glows” by Tara L. Masih.

The first thing that struck me about the collection of stories was that Tara’s voice was so precise and clear. She can make you sense the crickets cricketing away in the night, a stream that is rushing close  by and also mingle the thoughts of two people in a disspirited marriage in “Champagne Water” and that is just one of the strokes from this look-forward-to writer. The stories remind you of a different time, life being simpler and yet complicated. People wanting more for instance in the story, “Memsahib” that is about a young boy who is trying to understand an Englishwoman. The story is set in India and you can almost smell the earth while you read the story. Tara makes it look so easy – the stories that are so clear in what they want to say and how it is being said. The beauty of language is hard to come by and Tara does a fantastic job of conjuring words and stringing them to meaningful sentences  – almost like a magician.

But do not be fooled by the writing and the wordsmith yarn she spins, there is a lot more to the stories than just pretty and appropriate words. There are raw and hidden emotions, ones that sometimes cannot be spoken about, the ones that are said aloud anyway and the ones that yearn to have a voice and do not. The stories will reach deep in the recesses of the heart and may be if you are lucky enough pluck on those heartstrings as well. For instance in a story titled, “Say Bridgette, Please” she follows a lonely schoolgirl’s discovery which could either result in knowing oneself or knowing too much. I could almost hear Carson McCullers speaking to me aloud while I was reading this story. And then my favourite collection in the entire story has to be a very short piece titled, “Suspended” which suggests that the kindness of strangers as Tennessee Williams put it is also hard to come by but it does eventually. I almost wept a little at the end of this story and you will only know why when you read it.

For me the book was a revelation. Each of the stories in this collection focus on the loneliness and the longing of the human heart and the roads one has to take in situations probably one didn’t want to be in. There are no forced happy endings in this collection. Tara says it the way she feels it and wants to. I loved this collection and probably that is an understatement. I am at a loss of words. You have to read it to feel the way I do.

You can buy the book  on Flipkart or also on Infibeam