Interviews With Red Beard Authors and artists All interviews are directly transcribed from the author and should be read as their words and sentiments, the views they express do not represent red beard press in any way
Interview With Ethan Cohen, Author of A Delicate Lesson
Question: Could we start off by having you tell me a bit about yourself and your piece?
"I am 15 years old and go to Huron High School. In the fall I run Cross Country, and I Wrestle in the winter. I don't really think of myself as much of a writer. I believe that I am much better at math and science, and I have never considered pursuing writing. I actually wrote this piece as an assignment for my 10th grade English class. We were studying how to explode a moment in writing, and I chose to write about the death of my grandmother. I thought that I could capture my experiences immediately following her death and make them timeless."
Question: Why was the lesson you learned from your grandmother’s death to put others first? Your story definitely told a story of a woman who meant and achieved a lot for your family, but why did her death remind you of the importance of her struggle?
"My grandmother's death had a surprising sense of finality to me. I had known it was coming, but had never really believed it because she had hidden in from me for so long. When she died it was easier to look back at her life and admire what she had done. I think that I got this lesson from my grandmother because of how much it meant to her that her grandchildren did not see her dying. A certain instance comes to mind the christmas before she died, when she left her oxygen tank at home and suffered for multiple days, just so that no one would see her with it."
Question: The terms “erosion” and “submissive” you used interested me, when you saw your grandmother deteriorating, why is this the word you chose to use? Did you see her lose qualities you loved about her? Was she the same woman when she died?
"I chose to use these terms because I though that they accurately described how my grandmother's lifestyle had slowly and methodically caught up with her. The erosion was mostly physical because her personality definitely did not [become] dull as the rest of her did. She seemed to have accepted her fate, as she made no effort to quit smoking. In terms of her personality and the important qualities she possessed, she was the same person when she died."
Question: The idea of smoke masked by perfume is a theme which has popped up in other pieces which accompany yours in Pufferfish, how do you feel about the similar smells which mean so much to you being tied to someone else’s entirely separate life?
"I think that the theme that I wrote about is definitely not just applicable to my life. Perfume masking smoke can be symbolic of so many different things, and I am not surprised that others wrote about similar things. It is special to write about something which others can look at and relate to."
To learn more about Ethan, A Delicate Lesson, and his writing or art, check out the First Edition of Pufferfish at the Neutral Zone's Shopify (link here)