J. Harley McIlrath


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J. Harley McIlrath, who hails from Grinnell, Iowa, can be a bit coy when it comes to questions about whether his short stories are true: “Of course it’s true and maybe it really happened or maybe it didn’t.”

McIlrath sat down for this On the Fly interview in November 2010. He was in Iowa City to read from Possum Trot, his collection of short stories. He discusses the balancing aspects of two of his major influences—Hemingway and Brautigan—and what he discovered when work he’d written over 30 years was gathered together for a collection. He also considers the question of who is a writer by relating a story about his father’s life as a baseball player.

In addition to writing short stories, McIlrath contributed to Farmscape: The Changing Rural Environment. The book is inspired by Mary Swander’s play, Farmscape.