Awful Interview: Patricia Henley

28 Sep

I feel I’m connected to Patricia Henley in so many ways: friends who’ve studied or worked with her at Purdue University, an editor friend who is publishing her collection of stories OTHER HEARTBREAKS which we’re celebrating the release of at next week’s Vouched Presents reading, even our work appearing in the same issue of Freight Stories. All that is to say I’ve yet to meet the illustrious Henley, and I can’t be more excited to have her as part of Vouched Presents: A Night of Book Releases next Tuesday!

I feel like I’ve heard your name so often in my circle of Indiana writer friends, especially those from Purdue who’ve studied under or work alongside you. They’re always super enthusiastic about you and your writing, so I’m really looking forward to meeting you and having you read at Vouched Presents, but something I’ve always wondered: what exactly is a “boilermaker”?

Do you want the smartaleck answer or the truth?

Smartaleck: A candymaker. You know — divinity and other boiled sweets like your grandmother used to make.

The Truth: Boilermaker refers to the townie football players who were recruited to play alongside the student palyers in olden times. They were working-class — guys who literally make boilers.

I’ll take them both! What kind of candy did your grandma make? I don’t remember mine making much candy, but she always had a bowl of those strawberry candies with wrappers that looked like strawberries.

My grandmother and my aunts from the old country (Eastern Europe) made divinity and fudge.

I’ve never heard of divinity. Or, I mean, not in candy form. What is that?

Divinity is a white, sugary, boiled candy. You boil up sugar and water to a certain temp. Vanilla goes in, to0, I think. Somehow it becomes thick and you drop the mix into little circles with peaks on them on waxed paper. Does that make sense?

Check it out.

Those are so strange/interesting looking. What’s the texture like? It looks really soft, but if it’s just boiled simple syrup, it seems like it’d be a hard candy? I have all these questions. I should probably just find a candy shop here in town that sells them.

Sort of a thin, hard crust on the outside and soft with a texture onnthe inside. Why not just make some?!

I suppose I could do that. It doesn’t seem too hard, though I don’t have a candy thermometer.

Before we run out of word count, I do want to say hey, you have a new book coming out on Engine Books. Tell us about that.

OTHER HEARTBREAKS is a collection of stories I’ve written over the last seven years or so. I wrote them while writing a play, traveling, moving, teaching, and having the flu. Under duress, I would say. Writing them helped me stay centered. Three of the stories are linked and set in Pilsen, a Latino neighborhood in Chicago. One hundred years ago it was the port of entry for immigrants from Eastern Europe and I like to think that some of my Czech relatives probably lived there.

Oh, I love Pilsen. My buddy Tadd (whom I believe studied under you at Purdue) lived there for a spell, and we spent an evening at a local Pilsen dive. I appreciate stories written under duress, and the cover looks beautiful.

Would you like to say anything else to people thinking about coming out to see you read at Vouched Presents next week?

I am thrilled to be sharing the stage with Martone — longtime pal from here and Alabama and my son’s thesis advisor when he was a student at UA — and Jill who once gave a party for me when I read at Alabama and Mark. I used to visit my great-uncle and his wife when they lived in Fountain Square in the 1960’s so all of these elements combined make it seem like old home week. I predict good fun for all. Or as I said on my FB page — you’d have to be dead or in jail to miss it.

4 Responses to “Awful Interview: Patricia Henley”


  1. Lit Post! Lit Post! Here it is! Lit Post! | Ghost+Blog - September 30, 2011

    […] Books has an Awful Interview up with Patricia Henley. And speaking of Vouched, if you’re near the Indianapolis area, make sure to attend the next […]

  2. “As white and clean as new paper” – Visiting Writer Michael Martone « She throws the burning books into the sea. - October 5, 2011

    […] in addition to a couple of our super-talented faculty, Mark Neely and Jill Christman, and also Patricia Henley – at the Big Car Gallery in Fountain Square and wound up succumbing to the urge for The Blue […]

  3. Lit Post! Lit Post! Here it is! Lit Post! : Specter+ - October 7, 2011

    […] Books has an Awful Interview up with Patricia Henley. And speaking of Vouched, if you’re near the Indianapolis area, make sure to attend the next […]

  4. Engine Books News » Blog Archive » Hello, Blog, It’s Been a While - October 12, 2011

    […] Vouched Books […]

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