In this episode of the Sewanee Review Podcast, editorial assistant Carlos Zayas-Pons interviews CJ Hauser, author of two novels The From-Aways and Family of Origin—and the memoir-in-essays The Crane Wife—the title essay of which went viral in 2019. Their conversation explores the ways in which writing about intimate, personal experiences allows us to reflect differently on questions of love, community, and belonging, as everything infiltrates the practice of writing, according to Hauser: “we’re more porous than we’d like to admit. And we carry around all these things that we watch and see, and people know, and stories that we hear with us all the time.”
Hauser begins by reading from the first essay in their collection, “Blood,” which combines vignettes from their love life as well as inherited stories they were told about their family. Zayas-Pons and Hauser discuss the ways stories—both fictional and not—give us lenses through which we learn to interpret the world around us. In their essay “The Man Behind the Curtain,” Hauser looks to their childhood and the magic their grandfather weaved in through his showmanship, which became complicated in retrospect: “I think it’s sort of the origin story for me of loving the fantastical and the fictive more than real life . . . and I think I’ve always found the daily reality of things marvelous sometimes but other times it’s like, well why doesn’t everything shine a little brighter?”
CJ Hauser is a multi-genre, nonbinary, queer amphibian of a person who splits time between rural Central New York and Brooklyn. Their memoir, The Crane Wife, is published by Doubleday in the US and Viking in the UK, and the paperback will be published in July 2023. They are also the author of two novels: Family of Origin and The From-Aways.
The Sewanee Review Podcast is recorded in the Ralston Listening Room at the University of the South. This episode is produced by Carlos Zayas-Pons and edited by ProPodcast Solutions with music by Annie Bowers. Don’t miss any of our conversations with some of today’s best writers. Subscribe to the Sewanee Review Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.