Q: Why did you write The Portable Son?
What else was I supposed to do during my twenties?
Q: Do you write on a computer?
Are you seriously asking me this question?
This is a blog, for pete’s sake. I can’t order pizza without a computer.
Q: Why are you so testy?
It’s your questions; they’re making me nervous . . .
Q: Seriously, do you use a typewriter or something neat like that?
I wish I did. I am of course attracted to old manual typewriters and their clackety grandeur. But I’m too lazy to actually use one. I’d use a pen and paper + computer before a typewriter probably.
Q: What do you think of that computer program Freedom that blocks people from their own internet?
Whatever gets you through the night, as they say.
Q: How long have you been working on this book?
A very long time.
Q: Could you be more specific?
Well, since it’s a book of short stories, it’s hard to say. I’ve been working on the stories contained in the book off and on since the late 90s? But I probably did the real heavy lifting between 2006 and 2009?
Q: What else are you working on?
Well, like everyone else in America, I am working on a novel?
Q: What’s it about?
It’s a secret.
Q: Meaning that you’re being coy and artsy about it?
No, meaning that it’s literally a secret, and I’m trying to figure it out.
Q: That still sounds coy and arty.
Well . . . just because it sounds coy doesn’t mean it’s not true.
Q: What else is interesting about you?
Q: Surely there must be something of interest for the random online, stopper-by-er.
I am just a regular fellow.
Q: Is it true that you in your younger years were a fan of the Canadian progressive rock band Rush?
Yes, that is true. I wish you had not brought that up.
It’s too long and complicated to go into here, but yes I am a recovering Rush fan.
Q: What do you think of The Bad Plus’s cover version of “Tom Sawyer.”
I think it’s pretty emphatically great, actually. That drummer—his name escapes me at the moment—does a neat version of one of those gargantuan Neil Peart drum fills on what I imagine to be an itty-bitty jazz drum kit.
Q: Who do you think is the best drummer of the past 30 years?
Q: Who is your personal hero, literary or otherwise?
It’s currently a tie between Charlie Hunter and Leo Kottke.
Q: What is the best melody to be found in a pop song in the past 40 years?
Well for convenience’s sake, let’s exclude the Beatles, who really form their own melodic galaxy. With that premise, I’d vote for “Life on Mars” by David Bowie.
Go give it a listen again. Now hum it for the next few days.
Q: Well, what’s the best party song of your youth? Was song is the best to listen to loud in your car in its original arrangement?
That’s easy too: “Love Shack,” by the B-52’s.
Q: You cannot be serious.
I am without irony on this one. Those ladies can sing.
Q: What do you think of Seu Jorge’s covers of Bowie songs in Wes Andersen’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou?
I thought they were the best part of the movie, by far.
Q: What do you think of Wes Anderson more generally?
Q: Have you watched the new trailer of his new movie?
Q: Do you have a preferred Batman?
I prefer a Michael Keaton Batman.
Q: What is your favorite movie ever?
I don’t really have one.
Q: How can you not have a favorite movie?
I think having favorite movies and such is kind of a waste of time.
Q: What is the meaning of life?
That’s easy. Babies.
Q: What is your favorite time of the day?
Q: What do you think is the state of American literature in this current technologically fragmented time?
Q: Should I go to graduate school?
Oh, geez . . .
Q: . . . ?
Well, maybe, but only after you have read English in America, The Elephants Teach, and The Program Era. And then go to the website for The Chronicle of Higher Education and read all those grim essays by what’s his name—Fannypack?
Q: That sounds like a lot of reading.
I want you to be prepared.
Q: Who is the greatest living American writer?
Q: Do you think that there is a form of literature that has never nor will ever be great?
The author website.
Q: Do you think that the purpose of literature is—as many contemporary, famous authors have pontificated—to make us less alone?
No, I do not.
Q: What is the purpose of literature then?
I don’t know. First, I think you need to tell me what you mean by “literature.”
Q: You tell me—what is “literature”?
“Literature” is merely the name we give to writing that we decide—subconsciously, collectively, and as a culture—should stick around for an undecided amount of time.
Q: That’s not what they taught me in 11th grade.
Well, you asked.
Q: So what’s the point again?
Q: Of what you do? Writing fiction? The novel?
Oh, well . . . let’s see: the novel is simply a special way of communicating.
Q: Communicating what?
Communicating something only a novel can communicate.
Q: But isn’t that a tautology?
Well, perhaps, but just because it’s a tautology doesn’t mean it’s not true.
What I mean is that a novel is a special way of saying something, just as a song is a special way of something, and its specialness, so to speak, cannot be separated from the form in which it is said; you can say a lot about it once the song is over, but the song remains its own unique inviolable experience. There are special unhearable frequencies that are still felt when you read a novel.
Q: Suddenly I’m hearing Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” in my head.
Q: So if the purpose of the novel is not to “make us feel less alone,” then how am I supposed to feel less alone?
I don’t know . . . pilates?
Q: Come on. I am serious.
I don’t know. Babies?
Q: What if I am not sure I am ready for the gauntlet of responsibility that is parenthood?
Then don’t have any babies?
Q: What do you think of Louis CK?
I think he’s pretty great.
Q: Will this FAQ continue?
Q: Do you think there are questions that probably shouldn’t be asked of a writer?
Q: Do you think too much about the future of publishing?
Q: What do you think is the future of publishing?
Are you trying to give me hives?
Q: Will there be printed books ten years from now?
Q: Do you think you’re engaged in a rapidly obsolescing cultural endeavor that feels both spiritually and economically unsustainable?
Q: Are you done yet with your novel?
Q: When do you think you’ll be done with your novel?
Q: When you’re done with your novel, if you are ever in fact done, will it be turned into a movie?
Q: How much writing did you do on your novel today?
Q: Will your novel be boring and/or make me want to wish I didn’t know how to read or that I should perhaps flip on the television?
Q: Will I like the characters in your novel? Will I want to be their friends?
Q: Would you like to hear my idea for a novel?
Q: Have you done a book trailer for your not-yet-probably-never-finished novel?
Q: Will you write me a letter of recommendation?
Q: If there is ever a movie version of your probably incompletable novel, will you do a little cameo in it like Stephen King sometimes does?
Q: Will your novel be more like Stephen King?
Q: Are you working on a screenplay?