We recently published Zach VandeZande’s melancholy “Dad.”

Here, we ask him two questions about his story:


1) Some of my favorite pieces by you focus on the relationship between fathers and their children — is this an intentional choice of subject?

It’s an intentional choice in that I realized my brain kept going to that space during writing time and I let myself lean into it. I sort of have two modes that I’m working through when I write: the first is that I write my way into what I want the world to look like, like, I try and find that bit of grace that exists in most moments and make them into something bigger and more matterful than they are (I think this works really well in flash fiction). And then the second mode is that I write from a place of anxiety. I think where I am in relation to the idea of fatherhood sort of lets both of those modes work at once. Or maybe it’s this: one of the grand, silly pronouncements I’m always making to my students is that fiction writing is a mode of knowledge production, and something (my own relationship with my father, the fact that I will probably never be a father, ???) keeps bringing me back to wanting to know more about fathers.

2) If the father could have managed to tell a story, what story do you think he would have told?

I really wish I knew! I think it would’ve made for a better piece, maybe. I think he would have tried to tell a story that does too much at once–too much meaning-making, too much lesson, too much, general. I think he probably wouldn’t realize that fathers don’t have to try to be important, that being important is part of the problem.