Dale Bridges interview with Meg Tuite
I love the progression of this seemingly “day in the life” story of these two historical figures. What was your inspiration for writing “Adolph and Eva,” in this style?
Actually, my writing style is usually more bombastic. However, I like to grab the reader's attention, and in this case that meant writing a minimalistic story about two lovers on their honeymoon. Since this is a story that is very (very) loosely based on historical events, I knew the reader would have certain preconceptions about the narrative, and I wanted to use that to my advantage. The title of the story supplies an enormous amount of background information, and the reader naturally expects a shocking tale about the final hours of the most infamous tyrant/sociopath in modern history. Therefore, by toning it down and making it a personal story, the reader is thrown slightly off balance, which is exactly where I want them.
I love the intriguing dialogue running through the story about make-up, soap products and the dog. It reveals so much about the character, Adolf, as opposed to Eva’s more direct approach. I could see this as a play. Have you ever written one and did you think of that while writing the story?
Strangely, the information about make-up, soap, the dog, etc. is true, as far as I know. I'm a sloppy researcher, but I enjoy the process just the same. Apparently, on the night of their honeymoon, Adolf was quite chatty and went on and on about how make-up and soap products were made from sewage. It's such an odd thing to talk about on your wedding night, and I decided I couldn't possibly make up anything more poignant or hilarious, so I put it in the story. Also, the fact that Adolf Hitler, this Aryan demigod, had a dog named Blondi...well, c'mon, how fucking perfect is that?
In regards to theater, it's a strange thing; I wrote several plays in college when I first started out but I haven't written anything like that since. I grew up in rural Nebraska and Colorado, and my family wasn't exactly into "the arts." Aside from a small role as Jet #8 in a high school production of "West Side Story," I know nothing about theater. But I understand why you would ask that question. It's a perfect scenario for a stage production: small cast, confined space, plenty of conflict and dialogue. It seems like something Steve Martin or Woody Allen might have written in college.
What books are you reading at this time?
I'm sort of a window shopper when it comes to reading. I check out thirty books from the library that look interesting, and then I poke around in them for a while until I finally settle on four or five to read all the way through. I have commitment issues.
In nonfiction, I'm reading Susan Orlean's biography of Rin Tin Tin (I have zero interest in Rin Tin Tin, but I love Orlean's voice), Meghan Daum's first essay collection "My Misspent Youth," an essay collection by Wallace Shawn (he's the bald actor who repeatedly says "Inconceivable!" in "The Princess Bride"), "The Psychopath Test" by Jon Ronson, Ron Reagan's memoir (I have no idea why), that new Sarah Vowell book about Hawaii, and several Art Buchwald books that were recommended to me.
In fiction, I'm reading (or, in some cases, rereading) Stacey Richter, Jincy Willett, Kevin Wilson, Ron Currie, Palahniuk, Philip K. Dick... Oh, and I'm excited to get my hands on the new Jeffrey Eugenides novel that recently came out.
Who would you say are your greatest influences in writing?
I don't know how much they've influenced me, but here are the writers I keep coming back to in fiction: Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, George Saunders, Nick Hornby, George Orwell, Michael Chabon, and Jincy Willett. In nonfiction, it's David Sedaris, Meghan Daum, Sloane Crosley, David Rakoff, and Augusten Burroughs.
What are you working on at this time?
I recently completed a humorous essay collection about my life, and I'm shopping it around to some agents. When I'm finished with that, I plan to either A) write an incredibly embarrassing nonfiction book about my sex life, or B) start on a dark-humor novel about a young journalist in who is forced to write an article about a dead stripper. Interestingly, there are numerous overlapping themes in these two projects.