Late Bloomers is a collection of short stories about the endless drive for improvement, and the ways this can challenge the everyday. How can I become the best version of me?
From the book
About the author
Interview by Jenna Kämäräinen
What is the book about?
Late Bloomers is a collection of short stories about the never-ending overachieving that leads to funny, even absurd, lives. What to optimize, what to maximize? How to become charismatic, manage the perfect diet and find the purpose of life all at once?
Are the stories based on true events?
All the stories are fictional although they do capture issues and situations that I have encountered in real life. I’ve had the opportunity to experience and work in different worlds with very smart and ambitious people, and live a life that is both exciting and fervent. Nevertheless, if one lacks innate desire, the hard work doesn’t pay off because one is left with a sensation of emptiness, and life shrinks into meaningless actions, such as counting calories. All the characters in my stories have lost their connection with the self and try to mend the disconnection with achieving more.
What type of life can overachieving lead to?
Curiously, life of an overachiever is often colored with tightness and discontent, regardless of the triumphs. There
is a constant thrive for more although the “more” can be
hard to articulate. Many overachievers are also utterly
lonely, despite the socially rich life they seem to lead. If
real life becomes intolerable, imaginary worlds offer an escape – Instagram is often the altar for a show-off.
What is the weirdest overachieving routine
you have had?
In my twenties there was a period when every minute of my day was devoted to getting the best out of me. After I had finished my studies around 5pm I still had a long evening ahead. First a booty workout, then an hour of singing practice and finally reading some smart book, like Odysseus, from the Must Read Classics list. Oftentimes the workouts gave me no pleasure and they were more likely stints of torture because of the tight schedule. During those intense years I hardly saw my friends because I didn’t see how they would have helped me to gain my goals.
The stories in the book are flash fiction. What does that mean?
The stories can be read on a subway ride or on a coffee break because they’re only one or two pages long. Videos, music and other forms of culture have for a long time been available in a short form whereas prose has kept its gigantic form. For me it’s important that the wonderful world of prose is available in shorter timespans as well.
I fell for flash fiction when I studied creative writing in Columbia University in New York City. This short form of writing can capture Aha! moments and realizations of a lifetime. There is often a strong ardor – just like in great songs that can explain the world in a couple of verses. I also feel that flash fiction is strongly visual, even cinematic.