For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
This guy in a writing workshop long ago said that I was a hedgehog. At the time I found this very accurate because I thought he was referring to the Woody Allen movie Husbands and Wives and the characters classified by Judy Davis’ character as hedgehogs (mentally, while she’s making out with Liam Neeson’s character). Later I looked up the fox vs. hedgehog concept and realized that it was created by the Greek poet Archilochus and developed by the philosopher Isaiah Berlin. Archilochus: “the fox knows many little things but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Then the workshop guy’s observation no longer seemed accurate to me. I don’t think I know one big thing. Maybe I know a few little things.
My new most accurate thing someone has said: a friend told me recently that I write very frankly about sex. I certainly try for that.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
Joseph Cornell’s Setting for a Fairy Tale. I saw it at the Pace Gallery in September though I think it might be part of the Guggenheim’s permanent collection. It’s a diorama of a palace with mirrors for windows and twigs and branches all around, suggesting the Sleeping Beauty story or maybe the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Totally enchanting.
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)?
Jenna Jameson’s How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale. No question.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
I have been a starving artist by choice, not financial necessity, and obviously not literally speaking. It’s often the case that I feel sharper when I’m hungry and I need all the sharpness I can get so I’ve been known to go for days (or at least a day) without eating just so I can feel smart. The important thing is to push past a normal state of hunger into a place where you’re so hungry you’ve lost your appetite. Otherwise the hunger is simply distracting. Caffeine and bronchodilators can help.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
Just someone reading my work and relating to it or at least being entertained by it. That or someone really hating it and throwing it across the room.
Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
I tend to get upset very easily and recover very quickly. I fly off the handle and almost immediately regret it. So yes, yes, and yes. I would like to take back mean emails to my ex-husband and unfortunate text messages to sundry others. My friend Sasha, who has this website called the “The Breakup Coach”, says to write whatever you need to write when you’re upset, save it, and wait a day before sending it. I do that now. It’s good advice.