Martha Grover: A conversation with a conversational author
Raised in Corbett, confessional writer Martha Grover spills beans on new book.
Martha Grover is the author of "One More for the People" and newly-published "The End of My Career," both collections of autobiographical nonfiction.
Raised in Corbett, she has lived in Gresham off and on for the past eight years. Her second book is dedicated to the Sandy River.
The Outlook spoke with the local author this week about her craft, inspirations and life experiences:
You claim you aren't a "literary" writer. True or false?
I don't consider myself (one). It comes down to vocabulary. I would say I'm conversational, and I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing.
So how would you classify your newest book?
I don't usually call it a memoir, because a lot of people look at me and say, "You're not old enough to write one." (laughs) I usually get that from older men. It's an unconventional memoir — it's a story told in essays instead of one long narrative.
You write about sex, relationships and chronic illnesses. Is that hard?
I did have some anxieties. Exhibitionists have a function in our society: they make people feel better about each other. It's just like comics. They (tell) satires that are embarrassing or personal, and that helps.
Did you ever worry that your inner secrets would be boring?
No, I never did. Look at poetry, which is about things like a tree. It's how you (approach) the subject.
You've had a lot of jobs. Tell us about being a professional house cleaner.
I loved cleaning houses. (As a writer), I say my thinking time is also my writing time ... and I would just think all day. A lot of jobs are very nebulous, but with house cleaning you go in and achieve.
What's it like running Somnambulist, your DIY magazine?
I've been making my 'zine since I was 23, since 2003, and I'm just putting out the 28th issue. It's a great motivation to keep writing ... (because) I have subscribers, so I'm obligated to produce until issue 34.
You also help organize the Portland Zine Symposium. What's that like?
It's a wonderful thing, and I feel that independent media is more important than ever. Every five years or so (someone will announce), "Zines are back!" But they've never gone away. You just weren't noticing them.
What was it like growing up in Corbett?
(Not many) people have the experience where their hometown doesn't change. Corbett doesn't change.
Your best-known story is about losing a job as a private investigator. You've said it was one of the hardest to write. Why?
Well, it was very long, and I was being very fastidious about getting all the facts straight. So it wasn't necessarily fun or creative. The pieces that I like are the ones that kind of write themselves — "Love and Filth," "The Two-Hundred-Dollar Roommate," "Cleaning Jack's House."
You draw, write and sometimes host a storytelling event. What's your favorite medium?
Storytelling, because I do it every day. Maybe it's not performative, but (it) gets to the core of who I am, and those other things are superfluous.
The book alleges you have a "secret spot" on the Sandy River. Where is it?
I can't tell you. I'd have to kill you. You'll never get it out of me.
Just the facts
Name: Martha Grover
Occupation: Author, real estate agent, magazine editor/enthusiast, and illustrator
Education: Studied English at the University of Oregon and fine arts at California College of the Arts in San Francisco
Favorite writers: Mary Karr, Marguerite Duras, Mark Twain, Italo Calvino and Nick Jaina