Queen Mob's Teahouse published an essay I assembled from the work of five different writers: me, Lucas Mann, David Shields, David Foster Wallace, and Kate Durbin. This piece started out as a book review of Mann's book, Captive Audience, a memoir on reality TV, but I got really, really carried away. I took angry notes in the margins of his book and when I started typing quotes from him into the Word doc I had set up for the review, I couldn't stop. Somewhere in there I realized I needed help if I was going to critique the book as thoroughly as I wanted to. So it became a collage. Shields, from whose 1996 book I took some of my material, also blurbed Mann's book positively.
Although the book did make me angry, it also baffled me - so far was it from the values I live within that I sometimes had to stop and squint to make sense of what Mann had written. If he was putting on a more-filtered-than-usual writer's persona for the book, rather than telling the unvarnished truth, the whole thing would make more sense - but it didn't read that way to me. It read as honest, if bizarre.
I don't feel perfectly good about taking aim at a fellow writer this way, but the book felt that irresponsible to me, was that infuriating. I still don't understand how an examined, educated life can reasonably include reality TV, which exploits and exposes and never enlightens, and I don't understand how Mann can reasonably write what strives to be a memoir of an examined life and not acknowledge the other side of what he's endorsing.
Also this week, the Rumpus published an interview I conducted with Elissa Washuta in which I talked about some things I rarely talk about - why I never cry, for example - and some things I talk about constantly - women's glossies, for example. I emailed Washuta initially because I've been wanting to have a conversation with her since I read My Body Is a Book of Rules, which I didn't fully understand but which I knew was important. She mentioned on Twitter some months ago that she was looking for promotion for Starvation Mode when it came out in paperback.
When I reached out to her, I had no idea where I was going to send the resulting interview. Once we were both working on the interview, I pitched a few places (pies in the sky, mostly), but they either ignored me or turned me down. Time grew short, so I reached out to the Rumpus, with whom I have kind of a flexible, friendly relationship. I didn't know that Elissa had previously been on staff at the Rumpus, so I wasn't exactly reaching new audiences with her words by placing it there, which makes me feel bad, that I couldn't put it someplace that would help her more (and stupid for not researching this). I cherish the Rumpus and what it does, of course - I owe a great deal of my current reputation and workload to what it and its editors have given me, and the chances they've taken on me, and I will never stop pointing that out - but it would have brought me (and Elissa too, I think) a new line on the CV to appear in BOMB instead.
Anyway. All possible credit to Elissa and Monet P. Thomas, the new Rumpus interviews editor, for helping this interview to be something special. Which I think it is.
Also also this week, Submittable put one of my reviews in its newsletter. I had no idea this would happen until I opened the newsletter, and I was shocked to find my own words there.
I read this newsletter closely every week, and it gives me all kinds of great leads and information, so I am honored and very pleased. Here's the review they're referring to, of Night Moves, by Jessica Hopper. I loved the book, even if it put the song of the same name into my head intermittently for months. University of Texas Press is doing remarkable work, very little like the average scholarship-oriented university press, and I recommend keeping an eye on them as you would a regular indie press.
In other news - and I'm kind of burying the lede, if you live in LA - I'm reading this Saturday at the Poetic Research Bureau, a terrific little place in Chinatown, with two artists who are much fancier than I am. Here's the Facebook event if you want to RSVP. I am genuinely thrilled and I hope to see you there. I'll bring chapbooks. I owe this good fortune to Kate Durbin and to this t-shirt made of V.C. Andrews book covers. No foolin'.