Behind the Masthead: Jeff Albers
Continuing our investigation into the men and women who work tirelessly throughout the year to bring you Hayden’s Ferry Review, we now turn to one of those editors oft-forgotten by the mainstream media: the Special Projects Editors. First up, we have Jeff Albers, whose Twitter is hilarious.
Jeff Albers: Whereas the Genre Editors are concerned with submissions, the Special Projects Editors focus on those odd jobs that either help the reading process go more smoothly or raise awareness about an issue’s release. So it might be social media-related, it might be event planning, or it might be in-house stuff like compiling a guide for incoming readers—basically, whatever project’s called for at the time. The title was a placeholder, but stuck, I think, because it sounds like something befitting a reconnaissance mission.
HFR: If you had infinite time and resources, what Special Project would you embark on?
JA: I’ve always been interested in music production and have harbored the desire to make a beat-oriented record that, apart from my voice, doesn’t use the same sound twice. So every snare hit, say, would be something other than a snare drum: brick-on-brick, palm to overturned paint can, drumstick to counter top—anything, really, so long as it isn’t repeated. Brian Wilson used to call his later songs “pop symphonies” because he’d construct them meticulously section by section and then stitch them together. I’ve always wanted to take that idea a step further and, within each section, focus on each individual sound.
HFR: What are you reading right now (outside of HFR submissions)?
JA: Oddly enough, mostly nonfiction. I’m juggling John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead, Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine: How Creativity Works, and Conversations with David Foster Wallace, in which Stephen J. Burn compiled the most illuminating interviews Wallace gave over the course of his career. Also, Steve Almond recently began writing a very funny and fascinating not-exactly-weekly column for The Rumpus called “The Week in Greed.”
HFR: What are you writing right now?
JA: I’ve been neglecting my humor and satire stuff, which is sort of my first love, so with the semester winding down I’m feeling less guilt in working on those kinds of short, idea-based pieces in the vein of James Thurber, Woody Allen, or George Saunders. What’s interesting to me is how quickly you’ve got to pounce now. I read about Cory Booker rescuing a woman from a house fire and within hours of the story breaking, The New Yorker ran a “Shouts and Murmurs” piece about it. It’s almost as though to keep up as a satirist today you’ve got to be constantly on-call, like: “Welp, guess I’m canceling my dinner plans; Rick Santorum just said something ill-advised.”
HFR: What’s the weirdest thing influencing your writing right now?
JA: If weird can just be taken to mean nonliterary, then Marc Maron's podcast. At first, I hated it and listened only to particular guests. His confrontational-plus-confessional style grew on me, though, and now I listen to every episode the day it's released. Those first ten minutes when he talks to the listener have the intimacy and honesty of a conversation with a really close friend, which is a quality I'd like to capture in my narrative voice.
HFR: Quick: imagine what the action movie adaptations of the following books would be titled: A Farewell to Arms, Tender Buttons, A Room of One’s Own, One Hundred Years of Solitude, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Infinite Jest. (Example: Ulysses = Leopold Boom and the Very Long Day)
JA: A Farewell to Arms = Code Hero
Tender Buttons = T3nd3r 8utt0ns
A Room of One’s Own = Shakespeare’s Sister (Tagline: “A sibling rivalry worthy of the name.”)
One Hundred Years of Solitude = Macondo: City of Mirrors
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler = You, the Viewer
Infinite Jest = Death by Pleasure