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Nam Le is the author the story collection The Boat.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what's the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
Reading my book is like lying in a gutter looking up at the stars. Oh wait — that was Oscar Wilde. And I think he might have been talking about something else.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers' lives for the better?
I've just spent a goodly chunk of time in Italy. It was my first time. One day a friend and I caught the train to Santa Margarita, and then set out on a longish walk to Portofino. That coastline is unspeakably gorgeous. The water was so enticing it tempted us in at the start of March. I know full well the futility of trying to map any overlap between my and anyone else's tastes — but you'd have to be dead from the toes up not to thrill at that part of the world.
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 don't know where you shop, but where I come from, Aurelius's meditations will sooner earn you a screwy look than, say, Lindsay Lohan's latest. But to answer your question: maybe the autobiography of Rod Blagojevich, when it's done? I dig me a man who digs him his Tennyson.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
I've gone hungry, sure, but only when I've been too lazy to go shopping cook, and it's too late to order a delivery. I'm pretty easy-going foodwise, so have been okay subsisting on chips and Coke for long stretches.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
An expensive (and expensed) dinner, followed by a private concert and after-hours museum tour, maybe topped off with some neon tenpin bowling...
Have you ever written anything that you'd like to take back?
Sure, that Valentine's poem in Year 10... If you're still out there, girl-from-the-train, I'd like it back, please. I know we never talked before or after... was it really that bad?