December 22, 2010 · Print This Article
Check out Caroline Picard’s interview with the Chicago writer (and Bad at Sports’ literary correspondent) Terri Griffith on The Lantern Daily about Griffith’s book So Much Better. Here’s a brief excerpt from their conversation; read the full interview here.
CP: Could you talk a little about what your process for writing this book was like? How long were you working on So Much Better? How did you “discover” the characters? And really, what’s up with a credit union?
TG: So Much Better is my third stab at trying to write about a story I read in the Seattle Times, or maybe it was the Post-Intelligencer. It was about a woman, a middle class, white woman, wearing nice department store clothes and high-end make-up, who was found dead in a hotel room. She had committed suicide and had been dead a few days before they found her. The thing about the article that struck me was what the detective said. He said that about once a year, woman just like her turned up dead. A woman who by all outward measure wouldn’t be considered disenfranchised, but somehow was. A woman who was never reported missing. This is the idea that plagued me. How do you live in this world and arrive at a place where no one would know you are gone? What about work or family? Oddly, I still haven’t written this particular story. But certainly my protagonist Liz knows exactly what it means to have no ties. The Credit Union? My girlfriend worked for a credit union. She was a really bad teller because her drawer never balanced at the end of the day. Just off by a penny or two, but they don’t care in banking. It didn’t matter that she blew everyone out of the water on the Federal regulation tests. At the end of the day, your drawer has to balance. Credit Unions are really popular in The Pacific Northwest. I’ve been a Credit Union member for twenty years. Actually, I still do all my banking at my college Credit Union. I am crazy obsessed with people’s job. I love to listen to people’s work stories. Work is like our second family, and for some people it’s their first. There needs to be more stories about office life. Netflix tells me my favorite shows are “witty workplace comedies.” There are a few books that I really love that I consider in the same vein as So Much Better. Something Happened, by Joseph Heller. Death of the Author, by Gilbert Adair. Also Julie Hecht’s Do the Window’s Open? They are all empty books, with isolated protagonists who are tied to their work. (Read More).
“So Much Better” is a debut novel about a self-sabotaging Credit Union employee, a cold woman at odds with and alone in the world. In the absence of her lover, she seduces her lover s sister, wades through old storage units and wonders after her own absent family. Printed in an edition of 500 w/ silkscreen covers by Nick Butcher of Sonnenzimmer.
Terri Griffith’s writing has appeared in Bloom, Suspect Thoughts, Bust and in the anthologies Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class and Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak about Health Care in America. Along with Nicholas Alexander Hayes, she is co-authoring a transgressive retelling of the Greek Myths. Terri is the literary correspondent for the popular contemporary art podcast Bad at Sports and she also co-hosts the online reading series The Parlor.