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Feature Mon Aug 23 2010
Answers and Questions is a biweekly column that asks Chicago writers to remember the funniest or strangest things they've been asked in a question-and-answer session, during a talk, or in an interview.
Chicago-born Deb Olin Unferth, author of many short stories and the 2008 novel Vacation, may have said in the past that "fiction is everything that life is not," but I honestly wonder if this had happened to her yet:
Once a fist fight nearly broke out while I was reading. A man in the audience -- the writer Clancy Martin, in fact -- started heckling me, shouting at me while I was reading. Another man got to his feet and yelled across the room, defending me. Then, a third man -- a graduate student -- jumped up, and I believe he pushed the second man, although I couldn't see what was happening very well. Then a bunch of people got up, moving their chairs and making noise. People were shouting and men were pushing their chests at each other, but no actual punches got thrown. I went on reading through the whole thing. Eventually everyone sat back down. Clancy is my good friend now.
Sounds like the makings of an absurdist short story to me.
Unferth, who now teaches at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, publishes her next book, a memoir, Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War, in February 2011.