Here's a new Fire Story interview with John Hawkins for Counterpunch.org, conducted by e-mail a few days ago. He asked some questions no one has asked me before, and the conversation expanded a bit beyond the book. I think it's a good one!
Q: A Fire Story does an excellent job of describing what people lose in the fire — material and systems and relationships. Can you elaborate on this? And how has the fire altered your understanding of life? The bigger picture…
Fies: Well-meaning people say, “You and your family survived, everything you lost was just stuff.” People who mean less well sometimes say, “I wish I’d have a fire to clean out all my stuff!” I want to punch them all in the nose. I write about this in the book: “stuff” isn’t just material possessions, it’s memories and history and roots.
The fact is, I don’t miss 95 percent of the stuff I lost. The catch is that the other 5 percent breaks my heart. We left a car in the garage that melted into a puddle that I haven’t spent even a minute thinking about, but I will always miss the first sonogram showing that my wife was going to have twins.