Archive | March, 2013

WIPs Conversation: Steven Ostrowski on His Work in Progress

Steven Ostrowski

Steven Ostrowski is a fiction writer and poet who teaches at Central Connecticut State University. His work appears in numerous journals, including Raritan, Madison Review, Literary Orphans, Sleet, and Wisconsin Review. He has published chapbooks with Bright Hill Press and Finishing Line Press.


Steven, “Welcome to Oblivia,” first chapter from The Last Big Break does a great job of touching upon the details and not-always-savory experiences that go along with playing a gig. At times, the reader is given a musician’s insight into performing when getting into Eliot’s head. How were you able to lend the narrative such authority and authenticity? Do you have a history as a musician as well as a writer?

I appreciate your finding narrative authority and authenticity in Eliot’s performance scene in chapter one. I do play guitar—badly—and sing—really badly—and write songs, some of which I think aren’t so bad. I have played and sung a few times in my life in front of small audiences, but mostly I’ve simply fantasized– in startling detail, mind you– about being this very cool, very enigmatic, slightly physically spastic but powerful singer-songwriter who’s up there all alone on the stage with his guitar in a small cone of light, making people pay attention because some mysterious combination of words and music mesmerizes them, even changes their consciousness. Like I said, it’s a long-running fantasy of mine. Likely to stay that, too.

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Steven Ostrowski: Welcome to Oblivia — (Chapter One from The Last Big Break, a Novel in Progress)

Chapter One

Welcome to Oblivia

Rain throbs in the bones of the hand that carries the guitar case, Eliot Learner’s strumming/picking left hand. Striding down McDougall Street, head bowed to the needle-wet wind, he pictures himself making love to his wife. But the scene comes in like a broadcast from a shaky, handheld camera; as he rounds the corner at Bleeker he concentrates on steadying the picture and nearly plows into a woman whose long, dark hair is plastered to her skull and whose yellow raincoat is open, revealing an advanced pregnancy. Eliot looks up from the woman’s belly to her eyes, which are far away and narrowed, as if she’s trying to see her future through the downpour. “Excuse me,” he mutters, and moves aside for her.

Raising her hand, then dropping it, the woman says vaguely, “Oblivia.”

Eliot watches her waddle away. “Not yet,” he mutters.

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