We’ve all done things that don't make any sense. We all have our own little rituals. Adam Schuitema is the author of a novel, Haymaker, and the short story collection, Freshwater Boys. Both were named Michigan Notable Books by the Library of Michigan. Now he's written a new story collection called: The Things We Do That Make No Sense (Switchgrass Books, March 2017).
“A lot of my fiction, and certainly many of these stories, are what you would call realism,” says Schuitema. “These are realistic people, ordinary people, having an extraordinary day: that handful of days from a lifetime that are going to stand out and that they are going to remember for better or for worse.”
Schuitema says coming up with the title for the new collection was the hardest time he’s ever had naming one of his books. The phrase he finally chose comes from some lines of the first story.
“It has a double meaning,” he says. “First, you need conflict in a story. Conflict is often self-inflicted. In our lives, we make bad decisions, sometimes big, but a lot of times a series of small, poor decisions that add up. Or regrets, or guilt. So it serves as a sort of umbrella theme there.”
As Schuitema looked over this collection, he says he realized that they shared the concept of ritual.
“Ritual is something that I’m really fascinated by,” Schuitema says. “There’s religious ritual in one of the stories, but a lot of it are these little, everyday secular types of things that we do as individuals. A lot of times these are private. We have our routines that we do every day, or maybe once a year. People do these bizarre, strange acts that they couldn’t explain if they had to. They’re not exactly sure why they do these things, but they feel like they need to, like it’s meaningful. And sometimes it turns out to be necessary, even healing.”
Schuitema, who's an associate professor of English at Kendall College of Art and Design, will host a launch party for The Things We Do That Make No Sense on Saturday, March 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Richard App Gallery in Grand Rapids. Copies of the book will be available from Schuler Books, and the event is free and open to the public.
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