Tucson Success Stories: Kindall Gray

Kindall Gray is a Tucson native who writes poetry and fiction, and is currently earning her MFA at the University of Arizona. Her work has appeared in the online journal Back Room Live, and she read her fiction for the Edge Reading Series for Younger and Emerging Writers in July of 2010.

Natasha Stagg:What are you up to lately?

Kindall Gray: Lately I’ve been planning my October wedding and finishing my novel, The Crying Party. Yes, I said I’m planning my wedding and finishing my novel simultaneously! My manuscript is due to my advisor several days before my nuptials and reception. The collision of my wedding day and my manuscript’s completion becomes stranger when I consider that my novel is about what happens to a loving marriage after an infidelity, or a perceived infidelity, occurs. The Crying Party is also about motherhood, paranoia, porn culture, and alcoholism. So I’m finishing this sort of depressing account of marriage, and then immediately embarking on a journey into partnership and monogamy. I’m moving from darkness to light.

NS: Wow! I look forward to hearing more about that when it happens. So, how’s Tucson?

KG: For a long time I wanted to stay here forever. There’s a lot I love about Tucson, and I’ve spent much of my life here. It’s where I met my future husband, where I bonded with my best friends, where I spent childhood summers at the pool, and it’s where most of my family resides. But lately I’ve been thinking I’d like to live elsewhere. It’s nothing against Tucson. It’s just, as we get older, we either get more comfortable with what we’ve known or less comfortable.

NS: What are you reading?

KG: I’m reading ZZ Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere at the moment. I’ve actually never read the whole collection before. The stories are wonderful. I especially love “The Ant of the Self.” There’s something so special about that story, about the way the narrator opens up to us slowly, slowly, slowly, and finally he is completely vulnerable at the end of the story, beaten up, sobbing and alone. But we know it’s a turning point for him, this vulnerability, and it isn’t a sad ending.

NS: Suggest something to do in Tucson.

KG: This is what I do with my boyfriend some weekends: We ride our bikes to Bookman’s on Grant and Campbell, a wonderful little bookstore with a unique environment. Then we ride down to the Loft on Speedway and see a film. Then, if there’s time, we ride downtown to La Indita on 4th Avenue (great vegetarian Mexican food), then we go to Bumstead’s, also on 4th, for a gigantic Ding Dong (yes, the Ding Dongs of childhood, filled with the same gooey, delicious cream, only the size of your head).

Also: there’s a place called Margarita Bay on the east side of Tucson, on 22nd and Pantano or thereabouts, and it is the craziest, most out of control, most dead-serious karaoke scene you can imagine. I go as often as possible.

NS: Suggest something to read.

KG: I just read Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller, and was taken aback. I hadn’t expected it to be so powerful. It’s an amazing little book about what it means to transgress as a woman, as a friend, and as a member of society. There are all kinds of transgressions in this book, sexual and otherwise, but the resulting narrative is never tawdry. What struck me most about the book was the narrator: An old, lonely woman who decides it is her mission to ensnare, and ultimately destroy, a beautiful woman she works with. I was disturbed by how much I identified with this black widow character! But I like to think that’s a credit to the author.