“Stone Fruit” is one of several brief stories I’ve written in which the focus is on work, on manual labor. I’m interested in the physical experience of that work, the impact of work on the body, how the work we do can literally shape us. Our bodies conform to the work, especially after so many years. I’m interested in the particular aspects of one kind of work versus another, not simply in the idea that manual labor is difficult, that it wears people down. I want to explore aspects of setting and how that impacts the body’s experience of work. The characters in “Stone Fruit” spend long summer days in the sun, and their bodies, their hands and faces, reveal this in deep tans and deep wrinkles. I have another brief story that is set in a bleach factory. That environment has a very different impact on the bodies of the people who work there. Our work affects our attitudes, our thoughts and behaviors, which in turn affects the stories we tell with words. But our bodies tell stories, too, wordless stories. I’m interested in this paradox of using language to explore these wordless stories, to explore, particularly in relation to its labor, what the body knows, and what it can tell us, if we only pay close enough attention.
David William Hill’s “Stone Fruit”, which will be published in the September 2010 issue of Cha, is a beautiful prose poem. Although short, it provides the reader with a powerful sense of time and place. We read it again and again, allowing the protagonist’s memory to linger in our mind, like the hot summer days it describes. David tells us about the story behind the piece :–
Bio: David William Hill was an interviewer and assistant editor for the groundbreaking oral history book, Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives (McSweeney’s, 2008). His fiction has appeared in several journals, including Cimarron Review, Watchword, and Hobart Online, and his story, “Lucky Photo”, is included in the inaugural exhibition of Invisible City Audio Tours in Oakland, CA. He holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and is a co-founding member of The Flat Earth Collective, whose primary focus is to bridge connections, through readings and other endeavours, among diverse writers and artists, far and wide. He has taught writing courses at San Francisco State and The Academy of Art, San Francisco, and he is also a special education teacher. He now lives in Hong Kong.