Adam Gallari is an American ex-pat currently working on a novel and pursuing a PhD at the University of Exeter. Originally from New York, he holds an MFA from the University of California, Riverside, and his essays and fiction have appeared in or are forthcoming from numerous outlets, including The Quarterly Conversation, Fifth Wednesday Journal, therumpus.net, anderbo.com and The MacGuffin. His debut collection, We Are Never As Beautiful As We Are Now, was published by Ampersand Books in April.
*Please note, this is not Adam. But it is a Curve Ball.
How did you come up with the concept for “We are Never as Beautiful as we are Now?”
I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of male friendship, what constitutes it, the unwritten rules of it, how to guys will communicate with each other. All the things that are said without their ever been actually articulated. I also wanted to try and look at people who seemed to be at a crossroads in their lives. Those little moments that seem inconsequential at the time but which ultimately carry so much weight and which we only realize were important when we look back on them.
Your characters (for the most part) seem to have two things in common, they are baseball players and they are on some existentialist search for meaning. Do you think the meaning of life can be found in baseball?
I get asked this questions a lot, and I think that baseball is a great analogy for life. A Bartlett Giamamitti summed it up best when he spoke of how baseball arrives in the spring, fills you with hope, stays for the course of the summer and then, once the cold and gloom of autumn unfolds, the game leaves you to deal with that alone. If there’s anything that baseball teaches, it’s resiliency. It’s the only game designed for its players to fail, but it also gives them the chance to come back the next day and go at it again. I think that’s the most beautiful aspect of the whole thing.
When I read your book the name “Hemingway” kept flashing in my mind. Is he a model for your work?
Hemingway was a model, at times. I read a lot of him when I was younger, and when I had no idea what I was doing, so there is an influence, but I’m not sure it would be as strong as it would be if I read him again now. I do think he’s a brilliant writer, and I’ve recently started re-reading The Sun Also Rises. I want to look at it now that I’m a little bit older and I might hazard more mature. As an aside though, I think that there are a lot of people who gravitate towards Hemingway because it seems like his writing style is so simple, but he’s so precise he almost fools you into not seeing how immensely talented he was that he could pack so much into so little.
What does Baseball mean to you?
I’ll describe it this way, the best and easiest comparison would be to say that baseball is like a girl I had a crush on I was younger. You’re infatuated. You have all of these grand notions, and you put your heart and soul in it not realizing it has the potential to hurt you amazingly or that you can effect it in the same manner. So you fly by the seat of your pants and have a great time but ultimately you’re either too idealistic or too stupid for it to last. Baseball’s like that. I have great memories and I enjoyed it immensely, but it’s definitely chapter of my life that has been closed. I still watch it from time to time, but it can be hard to get through.
Have you ever been the last kid picked to play?
When I was living in Germany I volunteered a few times a week to teach baseball gym classes to a local high school, and occasionally afterwards the kids would have a bit of recess time and start playing soccer. I stuck around a few times, and by the end of it all, it was clear that I was just going to end up going last.
Please teach me how to pitch a curve ball.
I’ve showed you already! But I’ll refresh. You need to slide your fingers around the horseshoes part of the seam and hook your thumb deep underneath the ball. You throw it the same way as a fastball until the very end, when you drop you wrist to the slide and instead of throwing outward and with the tips of your fingers you yank your arm down as though you are pulling down a window shade.
Now please teach me how to apply pitching a curve ball to lessons in love and life.
Throw it the best you can and hope you don’t leave it hanging over the middle of the plate for the batter to crush. That sounds apt, right?
Ampersand Books (with its collection of very talented and young writers) seems the perfect fit for your voice. Ampersand Books appears to operate as its own sort of baseball team. How did you get recruited to play for the Ampersand team?
Jason Cook is both amazing and crazy. That’s how I’ll start that one off. Originally I sent off a short story to the Ampersand Review, and I got the snarkiest, most obnoxious rejection letter, literally written in the form of a break up note. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be really confused, but in the end I kind of felt, oh yeah, I’ll send you something else. And when I got the response for that piece I just assumed, given its similar tone, that it was another rejection. I filed it away and then the next day I went back to look at it, and realized it wasn’t a rejection. Once I finished my collection I went big first, tried the whole agent route, etc, and then figured it would be best to go small, independent and hopefully be lucky enough to find someone that both liked the collection and had something at stake in it. Jason’s email back pretty much was that. He said he liked that I wasn’t afraid of subtly, and that he felt it was something that you rarely saw in a lot of the stuff being published now. The line-up is rather eclectic and pretty dynamic. Each book they’ve put out is definitely its own animal with its own, unique way of viewing the world. I’m very happy to be a part of it and just hope I can help the ball club. (You know I had to give you at least one baseball cliché right?)