Eric Gansworth is telling his story in Apple (Skin to the Core)—the story of his family, of Onondaga among Tuscaroras, of Native folks everywhere. We spoke with author Eric Gansworth about the inspiration for Apple (Skin to the Core), how indie bookstores shaped his writing and reading life, and more!
“Easily one of the best books to be published in 2020. The kind of book bound to save lives.”Lit Hub
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
For each of my books, several different ideas merged. I was working on an idea organized around the Beatles album covers, once they’d created Apple Records, in part because I’m also interested in “Apple” as a slur in Indian communities: Red on the outside, white on the inside. I was wearing a Beatles Apple shirt at a community event, and it occurred to me that there were likely members of my community who might have that opinion of me, as a college professor. This led me to think about the possible origins of the slur and I eventually arrived at the government boarding schools, designed to “kill the Indian but save the man,” and in some ways that mission dovetailed with the invention of the slur.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
It’s categorized as a memoir, and though it is, it’s a multi-generational memoir; the whole first section takes place long before I was born, when three of my four grandparents were shipped off to government boarding schools. Their experiences are explicitly tied to mine in this memoir.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?
I have not. I’ll listen to brief passages, for quality judgments, but that’s it. Though I’ve gotten used to hearing my recorded voice—an experience that bothers a lot of people—I find that by the end of the intense process of recording a book that took years to write, I am done with revisiting a book fully once it is published.
Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?
I am. I truly love John Waters’ audiobooks as he is as hilarious a narrator as a writer, and I listen to them over and over. I have every one he’s recorded. I even tracked down a copy of his first abridged audiobook of Shock Value on cassette. I also love Laurie Anderson’s recording of Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
They have meant everything. Even when I was too young to understand financially what an independent bookstore was, I gravitated to two here in western New York, the Book Corner in Niagara Falls, and Talking Leaves in Buffalo. Both were foundational for me, and I’m not sure I would be a writer without them; [or] surely, I would be a different kind of writer, with less eclectic tastes shaping my sensibilities.
Anything else to share with us?
I fear that future generations of writers and readers will not have the wondrous experience of the independent bookstore: the sense of discovery, the kind of book that can change your life, as if it were on that shelf, waiting for you to finally step through those doors.
Header photo by dellas