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Put basically, I'm doing this because literature is vital. Beyond the beauty of the sentence and the hypnotic force of a well-told story, nothing helps us practice empathy as deeply and effectively as literature does. I can't think of a more important way to spend my day than helping to discover and share powerful works of fiction. In short, I'm doing this because literature matters. Also, it means I get to read for a living.
Is there something particular to Brooklyn Lit beyond geography?
Much as we might deny it, Brooklyn (or at least the part where I live) is an outer-borough. We're on the fringe of the city. Literature is a little like that in respect to popular culture. We're not getting the attention of Times Square, but we don't necessarily want all that madness either. It's a smaller, slower community, where there's more room for the things we care about.
Who's your favorite writer we've never heard of?
Carson Mell or Scott McClanahan. Carson self-published Saguaro, a short novel about Bobby Bird who's this washed-up rock star trying to reconcile his life, or at least reflect on it. The novel is funny and fucked-up and deeply moving, but there's only a few copies left—so get it while you can. Carson's also a brilliant animator, and Bobby Bird makes appearances in his animations, too. Scott McClanahan's name is getting around, and if you ever have a chance to see him read, you should. Scott goes into this trance-like state and winds up hypnotizing the audience while he's at it—it's powerful stuff and exactly what a reading should be.
Do you also write yourself?
I do. Or at least I try to, but I'm much better at procrastinating. I finished the Brooklyn College MFA program in May (where Halimah also went), and now I'm trying to negotiate a writing schedule.
What's your day job?
Electric Literature. Aside from walking my dog, working for EL is the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before I go to bed.
What impact do you think Brooklyn Lit has had on the publishing world at large?
I'm horrible with history, but I think Brooklyn has always been an important place in the literary world. Walt Whitman first published out of DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights was home to Norman Mailer, we've got Jennifer Egan and Colson Whitehead, and now Martin Amis. Brooklyn Lit is part of an important legacy, and hopefully we're contributing to it in a meaningful way.
What does the future look like for Brooklyn Lit?
It'd be great if it continues to grow to the point of long-term sustainability, but I hope we all maintain our indie sensibilities: taking risks, publishing work that we believe in.