Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Step Aside for the Talking Dog

Tony Earley discusses his new short story in The New Yorker

September 27, 2012 In the current issue of The New Yorker, Nashvillian Tony Earley takes Jack from “Jack and the Beanstalk” on a wild new adventure, pitting him against a stubborn dog guarding a bridge. In an accompanying online interview with Deborah Treisman, Earley describes the origins of “Jack and the Mad Dog”—a story that sprang from family lore, Appalachian twists on the English Jack tales, and questions about Jack’s fate both as a character and as a mode of storytelling. Of these folk tales’ waning popularity, Earley asks, “What happens if the day comes when nobody tells his stories at all? What happens to Jack and the other characters? To them, that would probably seem like the apocalypse—the collapse not only of their world but of the narrative conventions that created it.”

In the interview, Earley also reveals that this story will appear in a collection called Mr. Tall, forthcoming in 2014. Earley, author of the novels Jim the Boyand The Blue Star, holds the Samuel Milton Fleming Chair in English at Vanderbilt University.