Lindsey, a combat veteran, originally submitted the story to our 2012 Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans contest, for which judge Robert Olen Butler named it runner-up. Lindsey studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Mississippi. His writing has also appeared in the Harper Perennial anthology Forty Stories, Fourteen Hills, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, and Yalobusha Review.
He graciously agreed to a quick interview about the story:
What prompted you to write "Evie M."?
The initial burst—more tone than story—came in communion with a job I had some time ago. It was a decent job, alongside mostly decent people, doing work I could leave at the office. Yet it was ominous: the hierarchy and protocol, the anxiety over benefits. Anyhow, I wrote this sketch and sat on it. Evie had not yet come along.
How would you describe your main character, for those who haven't yet read the story?
For Evie, a veteran, even the trivial is terrorizing. Over-microwaving a sirloin steak is on par with a memory of assault. Perhaps this is a result of war—itself a juxtaposition of mundane and atrocious—or maybe it's because she just doesn't fit her surroundings. Regardless, she grows desperate to find something stable, something "pure" that won't fail her (or that she won't fail). The related anxiety is crushing her.
How did your experience as a veteran inform the story?
In a large way, my inability to write about combat led to this story. I spent years scouring my experience for anything of traditional war narrative "value." Ultimately, I needed Evie, and the (too often invisible) war story she represents. Second, I needed to refocus on the tiniest elements of war, the pinpricks of postwar complication that never let you be...and then amplify those for the character.
Congratulations to O.A.! We can't wait to see the story in the new anthology (due out in October). Pre-order it here.