Caleb Michael Sarvis

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Oyster River Pages:  Who are the writers who have made you who you are?
Caleb Michael Sarvis: There are a few that have stuck with me or had a hand in my writing style. The early influences are Carver, Kafka, and Denis Johnson. Lately I've been a little interested in absurdity, not just conceptually, but on a sentence level. George Saunders, Padgett Powell. Those have resonated with me on a linguistic level, and a lot of my writing is influenced by Florida, so Karen Russell, Jeff Parker, and Jason Ockert come to mind as well.  

ORP: What are the lenses that shape your worldview?
CMS: Fish-eye, in the surreal classic hip-hop sense. A couple of guys walking down a sidewalk, warped like a funhouse, some irrelevant but compelling action happening in the background. I'm also inspired by the mania of cartoons. Calvin and Hobbes fuels my writing in a way.

ORP: What’s the most important thing you’ve read or seen lately?
CMS: Important to me as a writer? Maybe Mermaids and Robots are Lonely by Matthew Fogarty. Kendrick Lamar's music videos have been pretty incredible. Baby Driver was a good testament to how genre can be interlaced, and Donald Glover's Atlanta has shown me that story-telling can be both linear and episodic. I've mustered up the energy to start a novel because of that show.

ORP: What’s your least favorite word? Why?
CMS: Probably a tie between "visceral" and "organic" — both are used far too often and have a habit of becoming buzz words in the middle of a literary seminar. If you ever hear me using the term visceral, especially correctly, feel free to publicly shame me.

ORP: What’s your favorite thing that you’ve created?
CMS:  I've written this manuscript, and half of it is a novella titled Emerson. An excerpt of that appeared in Fjords Review, but the novella as a whole is probably my favorite thing I've created. It's looney, surreal, and the kind of writing I'd like to read... and that's the goal, right? To create something we'd like to read?

ORP: What do you want to read more of in the world?
CMS: I'd like to read more long-form short stories or novellas. Online publications are requiring less and less, and while bite-size fiction is nice, I can only read so many flash fiction pieces before I'm sick of it. I could go for more thirty page short stories, and twenty-five thousand word novellas.

ORP: How do you pay it forward?
CMS: I'm the fiction editor of Bridge Eight Literary Magazine, published here in Jacksonville. I like to do my part by publishing strong voices and general dopeness. I'm currently putting together an anthology for Bridge Eight titled 15 Views of Jacksonville, featuring both big names and small, and simply putting this collection of work out into the world feels like artistic progress to me.

ORP: What is the space that has shaped you the most?
CMS: Jacksonville, for sure. I'd say Florida in general, especially since Tampa has a mark in my writing, but Jacksonville as a city is so eclectic and shaped by geographical disconnect that I don't have to travel far to think diversify my setting. Florida is an optimistic hell-scape, but Jacksonville is where the biggest football fans are also unaware hipsters and craft beer is as abundant as water.

ORP: You’ve just written your autobiography. What’s the title?
CMS: Am:Pm. It's a reference to a drink at the coffee bars around here, where you drink a shot of espresso followed by a pint of beer. It's an accurate representation of my lifestyle.


Caleb Michael Sarvis is a writer from Jacksonville, Florida. He is the fiction editor for Bridge Eight Literary Magazine and received his MFA from the University of Tampa. His work has been featured in or is forthcoming from Hobart, Literary Orphans, Panhandler Magazine, Flock, Barrelhouse, Fjords Review, and others. You can follow him on Twitter @calebmsarvis or come to Jacksonville and grab a beer. Read his story "An Unfaded Black" from Issue 1.

Jonathan Freeman-Coppadge