Daniel Nester Still Isn’t Sure If He Was a Starving Artist That One Time

by |
10/01/2009 4:00 AM |

Daniel Nester is the author of How to Be Inappropriate. Earlier this month, he spent a week in skinny jeans, and wrote about his ordeal for the L.

For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
Rachel Shukert says my writing has an “irreverent, elegiac sensibility to subjects ranging from the essence of literary truth to the enduring mystery of flatulence.” I like that. It makes me sound smart.

What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
As I type this, I am re-listening to the Comsat Angels‘ 1980 LP Waiting for a Miracle. Superb. It’s best to listen to these tracks while mildly stoned and driving in my friend Tom’s Chevy Nova circa 1985, but coffee and computer speakers got the job done in a pinch.

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)?
That’s easy: Bert Convy.

Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
Hmmm. For some five years, I attended Rutgers University in Camden, NJ, and lived off-campus in the poorest city in the United States. I subsisted on generic ramen and single-sold eggs and cigarettes and bought one at a time from the only bodega open after dark. I drank 40s of Coqui 900, bowls of grain punch, and smoked dirt weed. My soundtrack consisted of NWA, Anthrax, Kiss, 2 Live Crew, and mid-period R.E.M.

It was much better than it sounds. I don’t know if I was an artist then, actually, or if I am now. I was, however, an English major. I do know that there were points along the way where I was genuinely scared, where I realized that renting an apartment in a the better blocks of a ghetto wasn’t just a college kid slumming it by choice, but it had become, in fact, the only place I could afford to live. Whether those years made me Brilliant, improved my Character, or increased my Self-Reliance remain to be seen.

What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
The handshake where you wiggle your middle finger into the other person’s palm.

Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
Most of the poems, all of the blog posts.