An Interview: In the Flow with Evan Morgan Williams

Evan Morgan Williams, 47, is a writer from Portland, Oregon. His character-driven stories explore personal interaction, as well as the modes and nature of communication. He has published over thirty stories in literary magazines, including Witness, The Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Northwest Review, and issue 2 of The Fourth River. His story “Maybe I Want to Tell You” can be found in issue 8 of The Fourth River.

The Fourth River: In “Ivory,” you write about a character with a cochlear implant, and in “Talking Hands, Blue Eyes,” you write about a boy who refuses to speak and relies upon Native American signing to communicate. Is this a common theme in your writing: characters with communication disabilities? And if so, what drew you to the subject?

Evan Morgan Williams: Broken communication is a common theme in my stories. In the case of “Ivory” and “Talking Hands,” the characters have tangible barriers to communication, but I think they symbolize broken communication in general. In fact, a lot of the dialogue in my stories is fundamentally disrupted; characters talk at each other, not back and forth, but that’s the way it is in life. Real people don’t maintain a continuous line when they talk to each other, and I don’t like stories where that’s happening. Most television shows suffer from that. Just watch an episode of Law and Order to see what I mean. The great dialogue writers, such as Hemingway and Carver, have broken communication.

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