2013 Literary Award

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Eliot Treichel
Close is Fine: Stories

Eliot Treichel is a native of Wisconsin who now lives in Eugene, Oregon. He holds an MFA from Bennington College and currently teaches writing at Lane Community College. His short stories have appeared in Narrative, Beloit Fiction Journal, CutBank, Passages North, Southern Indiana Review and other literary journals. He has also written for Canoe & Kayak, Paddler and Eugene Magazine. In 2012, he was awarded a residency fellowship at Playa, as well as a Career Development Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission. Close Is Fine is his first book.


About the Book

Eliot Treichel’s debut short story collection showcases life’s private reflections—big and small—that shape and define individuals. Though the setting is small-town Wisconsin, the emptiness of this rough, lonely expanse feels universal. Anyone who has yearned to ease the ache of a fading relationship will be able to connect to Treichel’s expertly captured characters and their plights of family, fidelity and friendship.

He says about his craft, ”I first understood that life was actually made up of stories, and that stories were things you constructed, and that the story was the reality, but that it was also not the reality. This moment is the headwaters of my writing life—a life largely made up of rivers.

There was the Fox, which was just a short bike ride from my house. While the Suamico was narrow and meandering, the Fox was big and wide—a river of dams and locks and paper mills, of carp and catfish and sheepshead, fish you were advised against eating because of how toxic the water was.

There was the Arkansas River in Colorado, a river of snow-capped peaks and crashing whitewater, a river my dad and I went rafting on one summer vacation. This was my introduction to river guides and their penchant for storytelling. They seemed to have a game among themselves, a game to see how wild of a story they could get the tourists to believe, a game I wanted to play.

A
nd then there was the Wolf, the river that became the inspiration for my story collection, Close Is Fine. The Wolf, which cuts across northern Wisconsin and drains into Green Bay, is where I became a river guide myself. Where I learned that in addition to being an instructor and someone who had to keep people safe, you were also primarily an entertainer—that you were filling the role of mythmaker for them.”