Dave Koch is a founding editor of the Land-Grant College Review. In the summer of 2002, he attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference on a “waitership” and wrote a week’s worth of diary entries for Slate about the experience. Here’s an excerpt:
Everyone’s always drinking … and because Bread Loaf–which has a reputation for drunkenness it’s trying, slowly, to change–is consciously tightening its belt on the matter, you sometimes feel like you’re sneaking around. (For more about Bread Loaf and its reputation, read this article from The New Yorker. A non-Internet-savvy writer/waiter, who’d heard about this article but hadn’t read it, told me she searched for it online by typing in the words “Bread Loaf” and “orgy.”) There’s a prevailing feeling that they don’t want the conference to be just an excuse for a two-week bender. When I was a kid at summer camp, we used to steal bottles of beer from the staff parties and drink them in the parking lot, and we were so worried we’d get caught we kept craning our necks around, checking over our shoulders. For a second, the early evening vodka drinking made me feel like that.
Koch has written at least two short stories set at a summer camp: “Paul is Dead,” which appeared in the debut issue of Land-Grant, and “Maine is Not My Uncle,” from Cross Connect. Both are blunt but somehow dreamlike. They’re wry and sad at once, as memories of adolescence often are.
Another story, “Life Should Be,” is more experimental, consisting of long, winding sentences infused with melancholy. In it, an older narrator returns to the site of his former summer camp and feels nothing.
Last year Koch was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. His work is forthcoming from the Idaho Review and the Greensboro Review. A graduate of the MFA program for creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis, where he was awarded a teaching fellowship, he says teaching was the most rewarding part of his graduate creative writing experience.
In an interview with Claire Zulkey earlier this year, he talked about what it was like to live in St. Louis:
True story: When Josh [Melrod, Co-Editor of Land-Grant and next week’s guest] was in St. Louis, he was on an all veal diet. We kept going to one terrible restaurant after another (St. Louis isn’t exactly the center of the food world), and for whatever reason, he thought the dish they’d be least likely to fuck up was veal. I’m a vegetarian. Have been for years.
In person, Dave is easygoing, even when you make dinner plans but have to cut them short because you’ve forgotten you planned a night of, ahem, blogger karaoke.
He will shepherd you masterfully through this Friday. Have a great weekend.