“Eraser” is from Ben Stroud’s debut collection, Byzantium: Stories (Graywolf Press), which won the 2012 Bakeless Fiction Prize. Stroud’s stories have appeared in One Story, Boston Review, Ecotone, and Subtropics, among other magazines. In 2010 “Eraser” was selected by Amy Hempel for New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best. Originally from East Texas, he received his MFA and PhD from the University of Michigan, where he won awards for short fiction, novel, and essay. He lives in Ohio.
Stroud said this about the origin of his story: Fishing always seems to be treated as this wondrous, spiritual event in fiction. I guess we have Hemingway to thank for that. I’ve got nothing against fishing itself, but I’ve never been very good at it and part of me thinks of this story as my “anti-fishing-story” story.
It grew out of memories of my own fishing trips with my parents, but I didn’t get the idea for the story until I attended a reading by Jim Shepard–eight years ago now. I was inspired by the energy of his voice–something about hearing other people read their work always helps me with my own. With this story, it all came at once: the fishing trips, the landscape of that lake (based on the actual Martin Creek Lake), the kid’s voice. By the end of the reading I more or less had the story blocked out – though it took me several years to get it right.