Ed Park is the author of the novel Personal Days, from which he will read at Book Culture next Wednesday night, April 29th. His story “Variations on Original Sin” appeared in the L’s 2008 Summer Fiction Issue.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
A friend of my father’s noted that the last section resembles the poetry of the Korean poet Yi Sang, whose work I know only by reputation and a few exciting glances, as well as the unpunctuated yet lucid text-blocks of Chinese calligraphy, which I can’t read at all.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
CHANGESONEBOWIE. For some reason I put it on the turntable nearly a month ago and haven’t taken it off.
Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
I would buy Dennis Lim’s memoirs. He’s already better than Marcus Aurelius.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
In my twenties I memorized the prices of the cheap meals I regularly ate — the lunch special at Taj Mahal on 4th Street, for example, or the big roast chicken at the now defunct Cuban Chinese place near 100th. I would make sure I had the exact change necessary for the tip, so that I could put the money on the table and leave quickly. I don’t know that this had any value beyond contributing to my ability to tell you this story now, years later.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
That the reader will like the book enough to be interested in whatever my next book might be, even if it were a big departure—say, a science-fiction space opera or a self-help tome. Or my unauthorized biography of Dennis Lim.
Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
The mere thought of a rocky line, in a story or article already published, can make me wince. And occasionally I’ll think of a film review in which I was too generous or stinting with praise. But mostly I’m obsessing about whatever it is I’m writing at the moment, like this questionnaire. I’ll probably want to take it all back once I send it to you.