:: Interviews

Alive and Sane: An Interview with Alex Niven published 05/03/2020

There was brief period of time when a genuine and tight-knit avant-garde was able to develop around critical theory and pop-cultural analysis, with Mark Fisher acting as the main focal point and driving force. Like all avant-gardes, it faded and scattered over time, but that doesn’t mean that the internet is now devoid of good writing and commentary. As I say in the book, writing these days is more overtly political, which is generally a good thing.

Oscar Mardell interviews Alex Niven about New Model Island.

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The Sensation of Taboo: An Interview with Susan Orlean published 25/02/2020

3:AM Magazine: Why did you decide to burn an actual book as part of your research?

Susan Orlean: Well, for two reasons. Number one is that, because I was writing about 400,000 books being burned, it seemed important and useful to actually see it so that I could have a visual reference. But really more to the point, I was very curious about the sensation of taboo and the thought that this was something that felt really transgressive. I was curious whether that was something I was imagining or whether it was true that the idea of burning books was so wrong. I wanted to push myself and assess the level of comfort or discomfort that I had about it.

Thomas Phillips interviews Susan Orlean.

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Becoming Dolores: William T. Vollmann Exposes His Female Alter Ego published 05/02/2020

When you read an interview with William T. Vollmann you never quite know which William T. Vollmann you are going to get. Wild Bill Vollmann—the reckless journalist reporting on humanity’s crooked timber from the latest geopolitical hotspot? Billy the Kid—grinning nerd in flak jacket welcoming you into his creepy den of iniquities? William the Blunderer—concerned citizen quixotically laboring to save the world one lost soul at a time? Or maybe you’ll simply hang out with William Tell and shoot some guns of an afternoon, like French writer David Boratav did in 2004. None of these caricatures really do Vollmann justice, but if they help raise his profile and sell his books they’re doing their job. When in a 2010 interview with Carson Chan and Matthew Evans, Vollmann discusses the founding mythology of “American Ovidianism”—the ideal that you can change who you are—you understand that his commitment to transformation is not simply aesthetic, but ethical. His writing argues that each of us has the right to be who we are, and who we want to be.

Stephen Heyman interviews William T. Vollmann, an excerpt from Conversations with William T. Vollmann, edited by Daniel Lukes.

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The mail never stops: Small press interview with Joshua Rothes of Sublunary Editions published 20/01/2020

I have a special fondness for brief forms of literature, and I wanted, first and foremost, a place to showcase those in a way that gave them presence, space in the life of a reader that, in the absence of a substantial printed collection or inclusion in some compendium or another, I thought they seldom received. I wanted them to be printed on good paper, typeset (each uniquely so), the objects of anticipation. Still, as great as it sounded in my head, I had no idea how writers would react to it: “What, you’re just going to fold my story and put a stamp on it?” But people have really embraced it, readers and authors. The short books I’m now starting to dabble in are just the next logical extension of that.

Joseph Schreiber interviews Joshua Rothes of Sublunary Editions.

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Whispers in the Ear of a Dreaming Ape: An Interview with Joshua Chaplinsky published 21/12/2019

I was born and raised on Long Island, and have been living in Queens for the last decade or so. I don’t know if the geography affected me that much, but the middle-class suburban malaise definitely did. Although, there were points where we were hanging on to the “middle-class” part by our fingertips. How that affected me as a writer, specifically — that’s for my future biographer to say.

Chris Kelso interviews Joshua Chaplinsky.

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Another Form of Turning: An Interview with Jessica J. Lee published 16/12/2019

The preservation of her grandfather’s story was given weight by his struggle with Alzheimer’s, which would later claim his life. “The realisation that the past was quickly dissolving,” she writes, “gave an urgency to the task of knowing it.” In a latter passage, she writes of his last days, “Alzheimer’s, I think, is a form of haunting. It possesses the people we love, takes them away in stages, devouring memory, life, personality. As the disease progresses, the proteins that gather in the brain begin to form plaques around nerve cells, structures that once transported nutrients collapse, and the brain tissue shrinks. First short-term, then long-term, memories disappear. The people we know fade, as though gradually stepping out of a picture.”

Pete Carvill interviews Jessica J. Lee, whose book Two Trees Make a Forest is out now.

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A Writer in His Own Worst Way: Two Days Across Pittsburgh with Gary Lutz published 01/12/2019

“The truth is, the way I write, and it’s the only way I can write, I used to think I was imitating John Updike,” he says. “Obviously, my writing is nothing like John Updike’s stuff. I always had a vague sense of my own limitations. I didn’t grow up with books. I was essentially a nonverbal kid. Late in life, I found out I’m on the autism spectrum. As a kid, I didn’t understand how to use language properly, because nobody ever really spoke to me at any length except on television. And I didn’t watch a lot of television. So I think with my writing, the weirdness comes in part from not really feeling as if even American English is my language.”

David Nutt interviews Gary Lutz (with exclusive pictures).

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The Unsayable: a conversation with Cynthia Cruz published 26/10/2019

The main difference to me between depression and melancholia is that depression is what is occurring on the outside, one’s symptoms: (sadness, lethargy, loss of appetite, etc.) while melancholia is what is actually happening within. Furthermore, melancholia is a definition of what occurs when one is unable to grieve the loss of something because they are unable to determine what exactly it is they have lost. Because in melancholia one does not know what one has lost, there can be no resolution; there is no way to recover. This is the case for class trauma (the trauma that occurs when growing up working class/poor in the contemporary US) and trauma, in general. The definition of trauma is that the event that has occurred to create the trauma has created a shock and that shock results in a blackout where no memory exists (the psyche protects us from such traumatic memories). Because these memories are not recoverable, what has occurred cannot be remembered, which means it cannot be re-experienced and grieved.

Paul Rowe interviews Cynthia Cruz.

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Cutting and Stitching: An Interview with Jenn Ashworth published 20/10/2019

I’m not sure they are stitched back together — in that yes, there’s a rough narrative to the book about parts of my life, and alongside that, a rough argument about trauma and suffering and attention and creativity. I hope those threads make the book more or less hospitable to a reader. There are those ghosts of through-lines that give it a bit of coherence. But in the main I experience the book as quite a chaotic, three-dimensional thing. A maze to go into rather than a line to follow. I laid all these different types of writing next to each other — the memoir, the fiction, the autofiction, the criticism, the pretend lectures and essays and epiphanies — as a kind of collage, where the rough edges where they don’t stitch together are much more important than any seamless stitching. 

Lee Rourke interviews Jenn Ashworth.

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Disabled Queer Poet Jillian Weise Upends Ableist Assumptions in Cyborg Detective published 26/09/2019

I turned away from poetry because it had invited strange men towards me. They were amputee fetishists and I guess they mistook my first book as a solicitation. Many assumed that I would be flattered by their advances. I was 26. I was shocked by their suggestion that I’d obviously hook up with them. Who else would I hook up with? Culture must have given them the impression that amputee women can’t find dates, but every amputee woman I know is partnered, has been partnered, has multiple partners, or doesn’t want a partner. So it was all confusing and a little scary.

Élan Young interviews Jillian Weise about cyborg detective.

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