Pigeon Pages Interview with Tobias Carroll

Photo by Jason Rice

Photo by Jason Rice


Do you have a bird story or favorite feathered friend?

I wish I did! I definitely have plenty of childhood memories of winter birdwatching, but I can’t say that I have a personal favorite bird. (Though I am fond of the self-titled album from the band Cardinal–does that count?)

What is your most memorable reading experience?

Last year I did a southwest/midwest book tour with Duncan B. Barlow, which started in Santa Fe and ended in Chicago. Duncan and I read with Miriam Suzanne at an art gallery in Denver, and that was a pretty fantastic night–the audience was incredibly responsive, and I think the three of us balanced one another’s work out very well.

What makes you most excited about Reel and Transitory?

Both of the books have now been out in the world for over a year and a half, which is incredibly weird to me. But I still hear from people who’ve been picking them up and enjoying them, so that’s incredibly heartening.

To tweet or not to tweet?

I tweet. I don’t tweet nearly as much as I used to–some of which is due to the fact that I freelance full-time, and thus, going on Twitter can sometimes involve losing hours of the day. But there’s still the potential there to connect with people, which is good–and, I’d say, as someone who writes things, social media is at least a necessary evil. Sometimes it’s something better than that.

What books do you have in your bag right now?

Ondjaki’s novel Transparent City and about half a dozen notebooks. I keep buying Field Notes notebooks, which I’m not sure qualifies as a compulsion or not.

Can you tell us your favorite rejection story?

I’m not sure that I’ve ever had an experience with a literary rejection that I’d want to revisit, honestly. I did find out, at one point, that someone who’d sent me a rejection letter for a novel many, many, many years ago had subsequently become a friend of mine–but I don’t even know if I’d call that a “favorite.” It’s just a weird sort of serendipity.

What literary journals do you love?

Tin House, Guernica, The White Review, Entropy, X-R-A-Y, Fanzine, and BOMB all come to mind. Plus a lot more. I realize I can’t say “all of them” but, really, all of them.

What shakes your tail feathers?

Lately? New (or relatively new) albums by Anenon, Jeff Rosenstock, dälek, Christina Vantzou, Yo La Tengo, and Dedekind Cut. Watching soccer. Good coffee.

What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

It might be contradictory, but: be active in your literary community, but also don’t let emotional labor overwhelm you.

What other eggs do you have in your basket right now?

Trying to find a home for a new novel; working on a novella somewhat inspired by Destroyer’s album This Night, and working on some other novels along with that. Trying to explore the world of longform nonfiction as well, though that isn’t going terribly well at the moment.


Tobias Carroll is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn. He is the author of the novel Reel (Rare Bird Books) and the short story collection Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms), and his writing has been published by Tin House, Rolling Stone, Hazlitt, Men's Journal, and elsewhere.