Sunday, May 6, 2012

John's Versatile Answers, EST 2012

You may recall that I recently fixed the Versatile Blogger Award. In doing so I added six interview questions to the award, but would only answer them after all six of my recipients did. Well, they have, and so now I have to admit things about myself. I promise to make them uncomfortable.

1. What's the last sentence (from any of your work) that made you feel pride in writing?
--After receiving some theta manuscripts back recently, I’ve found I like more of my book than feels appropriate. I love this weird thing. The last line that made me almost ashamed of myself to enjoy having found was this relationship advice:

“You can go find her. When you do, if she’s worth it, take no excuses and abide. If she isn’t, masturbate. Words of my father.”

2. What’s the last work of fiction that left you envying the creator? In what way did you envy he/she/it/them?
--Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 hit me pretty hard. There is not one page for at least the first hundred pages whereon he didn’t write at least one notion, one sentence or paragraph unlike anyone else has ever written. Vastly culturally literate while being unafraid of silliness, intimately knowledgeable about people’s pettiness and the frequent apathy of fate, culminating in a game of Strip Trivia. I don’t necessarily want to have written The Crying of Lot 49, but I write late into many nights pursuing that enticing output.

3. In your entire life, what have you most catastrophically failed at cooking or baking?
--My culinary arts are limited, and so my failures are mostly mundane. However, I am still haunted by a calamitous case of macaroni. I returned to the kitchen after only a few minutes to find all the water boiled away, and every macaroni having gone vertical and burned to the bottom of the pot, so that I was faced with a cast coral reef of inedible dinner. Some of the macaroni-ends even wriggled and puckered in the heat, in such a sphinctorial fashion that I was off pasta entirely for months. It took an hour to scrape all that crap off.

4. What field of science most frequently inspires you?
--Physics. It unites all things miniscule and enormous. We are made up of things so small we can’t see them, and we contribute to a world so big we can’t recognize it. Physics also rings both those scales into viewable context. Like G.K. Chesterton, I feel distinct awe that everything and everyone is made of the “one stuff.” It’s a versatile stuff.

5. What task most recently frightened, grossed you out or otherwise intimidated you, such that you got someone else to do it?
My family recently bought me a cell phone so that I won’t die in a ditch somewhere without calling. Upon arrival it required some thirteen different calls to activate and set up. After about four I was ready to shatter the device against a wall, and so you could say I was intimidated to the point where I asked them to do the rest. I hate you, automated operator.

6. Who is your favorite dead author? Or, if there is no single such person, name six of your beloved dead authors (in no necessary order).
You may have guessed that I have no single favorite. But here are six beloved writers: Mark Twain, Jonathan Swift, Douglas Adams, Homer, J.R.R. Tolkien and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


  1. How did you possibly mess up pasta so severely? That's hysterical.

    1. It was some kind of magnetic disturbance in the world. Terrifies me, but I've never been able to repeat it.

  2. Great answers, all of them - and your quotation sounds intriguing and interesting - hurry up and get it out there!!!
    But I'm with Richard - that macaroni story cracks me up. "Coral reef." TOO FUNNY.

    1. Thanks for the support, Cathy. Have you been following along the writing process? I remember your very kind words on my composition mega-post...

  3. Wonderful answers. The macaroni thing cracked me up. My smaller portion swears that spaghetti is cooked when it sticks to a wall it is thrown at. Would your macaroni have stuck - or was it past that.

    1. We're talking "past that." It was stuck to the pan already, and how.

  4. You reminded me that I have read a fantasy novel that I enjoyed. The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
    The only author I envy is J.P. Donleavy. I would love to be able to carry on a rant about nothing in particular and hold the reader's attention the way he does to me.

    1. And no other author in the world has this ability? I wonder what's unique about JP's work there.

  5. There may be others with the ability, I just haven't found them yet.
    When I bought his Fairytale Of New York, I was browsing a 2nd hand book store and I bought the book without even looking at the blurb because I like the song of the same name.
    If you ever read one of his books I would be fascinated to know what you think of his style.


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