We recently published Anthony Varallo’s dreamy “Cruise.”
Here, we ask him two questions about his story:
1) Cruises, for me, seem like such a nightmare of a vacation — trapped on a boat with a bunch of strangers, unable to escape. But some people like that sort of thing! I love how you take that nightmarish quality and mix it with the “this is a great time” kind of feeling some folks have. How did you find that balance between nightmare and dream come true?
I’ve been on several cruises, each time with mixed feelings, since, like you, cruises seem to me more like a nightmare than a vacation (why go on a cruise when you could choose to do practically anything else?) But we have kids, and our kids like the cruises, and we tend to like the things our kids like, so off we go, to sail the seas from Miami to Mexico with a ship full of strangers. It’s actually fun (sort of), but the experience is more about what you bring to it than what it actually is, like so many things in life, I guess. At the very least, you can eat twenty ice cream cones a day without anyone seeming to notice. I tried to remember those ice cream cones as I wrote “Cruise,” all of my mixed feelings notwithstanding.
2) That moment at the end is so great, when an identical cruise ship appears on the horizon. It really plays to the dream quality of this piece, as well as the kind of “every person” feel that the reader is given. So! Do you think this ocean is filled with identical cruise ships, one going past the other, over and over? Or is it just these two?
Wow, I really like your idea about an ocean filled with identical cruise ships, one going past the other forever. That sounds good to me. That’s the way it felt whenever I’d look out across the ocean, thinking, “We’re all alone out here at sea!” and then I would glimpse a cruise ship on the horizon and realize they must all be traveling the same route, like planes following a landing pattern. But I’m going with your idea. Just two cruise ships would be sort of sad and lonely. Let the oceans swell with identical cruise ships, I say!