The “radical attorney and novelist” Jason Flores-Williams (also High Times magazine’s political reporter during the Bush years, and an occasionally imprisoned protestor against Washington and corporate culture) is the author of three previous novels; his fourth, Character and Fitness (“bout an unemployed social justice lawyer and his nurse girlfriend living in a shitty apartment complex behind a strip mall in the suburbs of Philadelphia—birthplace of our democracy”), will be serialized in the Brooklyn Rail over 14 months beginning with the January 2011 issue. A launch reading will be held at 6pm Saturday the 12th of February, at Mars Bar.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
That I was a brilliant man whose work would go on to change the consciousness of our time… Nothing! Walk outside, go to the store and ask the first person you see if they know who I am. Ask them if they know who any contemporary writer is… This is America. The most famous and important writer in this country is still less known than a third-string offensive lineman for the local college football team.
The most accurate thing said about my writing is that hardly anyone has ever said anything about my writing.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
One of my criminal defense clients turned me on to putting tequila in the freezer. I know it’s counterintuitive, but I swear to god it’s fantastic.
Nb. It needs to be good tequila. Like Patron or Herradura.
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)?
What stores do you go to where the cashier is going to look at you less weird because you’ve bought a copy of something by Marcus Aurelius? WalMart? Big Lots? I think you have this question backwards… Either way, I wouldn’t mind spending a few hours with Charlie Sheen. I am, and always will be, a fan of the degenerate.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
No, I’ve been a trustfunder all my life. I went to Vassar and then the MFA Writing program at Columbia. I met my agent at a dinner party on the Upper West Side and am now in residence at Yadoo working on my third book—a diaristic memoir told in the first-person voice of a lower class black woman in the South. I feel like the idea that one has to experience real life to write about real life is ridiculous. And besides that, the whole “starving artist thing” is so ironically passe.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
In my 20s, I would say that it was sex in the bathroom after a reading.
In my 30s, I would say that it was getting arrested together at a protest.
Now that I’m in my 40’s, however, I would say that it’s prison sex in the bathroom of the county jail after a protest reading in which everyone was arrested. And then we go for coffee.
Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
Yes. 110 percent…
Last year I wrote a heavy email to friends guaranteeing that if they wanted to make some money, then they should bet the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Oakland Raders—even though the Steelers were minus 14. I said it was an absolute lock. Take it to the bank. Done. The Steelers got blown out, people lost money, and they all still give me shit about it.