Edited by Gordon Lish.
BY JIMMY CHEN
[Originally published November 16, 2012.]
I am a writer and poet,
one, bear with me here, of the “major” writers of the late 20th century, though just typing that felt desperate. I received a B.A. in English at Humboldt State University, then went on to attend the esteemed Iowa Writers’ Workshop, thus launching my career. I also like to drink.
What I’m doing with my life
Working on some short stories but
honestly not that into it, which may be why I’m entertaining the prospect of dating again.
I’m really good at
I hate to kick a dead horse here, but I’m really good at writing. I also make a pretty neat beef stew, since I tend to take 6 hour naps. It just gets done. My first collection of short stories Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? was shortlisted for the National Book Award and sort of revitalized the short fiction form. John Updike selected on of my stories for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of the Century; Robert Altman made a sprawling film out of my stories; writing professors all across the country solemnly mention me as a kind of blue-collar American Camus; so, I’m not saying I’m really good at writing, just noting some examples of how others seem to feel this way.
The first thing people usually notice about me
I look the way a depressed person looks, if one were not trying to look that way.
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food
The Trial; The Sun Also Rises; For Whom The Bell Tolls; The Stranger; Dear Mr. Capote; Kramer vs. Kramer; Terms of Endearment; Taxi Driver; Annie Hall; Love Connection; Empty Nest; Mr. Belvedere; My Two Dads; Miles Davis; Charles Mingus; Bill Evans; Pasta all kinds.
The six things I could never do without
Hendrick’s gin; tonic; lime; ice cubes; a tumbler; my typewriter.
I spend a lot of time thinking about
The triangular yet cyclical relationship between the author, the character of a story, and the reader; how empathy may just be narcissism projected onto others; how nostalgia is desperate memory; the hair-thin line between cliché and truth; showing vs. telling; my kidneys, liver, and spleen; realism, location, and class; linguistic economy; how to say something by not saying it; codependence, alcoholism, and intimacy; rent; whether or not something is a run on sentence and does it matter.
On a typical Friday night I am
I enjoy turning off all the lights in the house a few hours after dusk, walking over to the window, a drink in hand, and just looking out
at the vessels of leafless branches bruised into purple gloom, as if beaten by day. I see a man walking his dog, the diagonal leash sloped downward towards its neck like some slanted guillotine; I see this and think what is wrong with me? As you can tell, I need to be dating again. The bottom of my glass portrays multiple ever receding foci, all working in collusion together as the room fucking spins. The once frozen lobster ravioli is now paste in my boiling pot, as I’ve forgotten about dinner.
The most private thing I am willing to admit
I’ve been cruel to others for material.
I’m looking for
Just something, or rather someone, to get me away from this writing desk. A jovial date; a flash of tits; some female chatter. We could ride a roller coaster, have way too many corn dogs, and I would hope to die of a heart attack. Anything.
You should message me if
You should message me if you’d like to take a chance on a morbidly depressed yet emotionally available writer near the end of his noteworthy, and in some circles, brilliant career who just wants to tap into this supposed carnal hedonism of art and literature, which I will admit is a heavy handed euphemism for copulation, which despite all subtleties herein I must now betray and just say will you please be quick, please?
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