Questions and Answers      

Q: What's with all the forms? Isn't straight prose good enough?

A: It's not as if "straight prose" isn't complicated enough; it's endlessly complicated, a whole world or constellation in itself. I have some theories about it. Theory One: I fear nonfiction. I fear the level of personal revelation that it supposes. Or the level of immersion in another's world slash mind slash life. I also fear the immense knowledge that writing nonfiction seems to presuppose. You have the whole weight of truth behind you in a new way (I say this as a writer of other genres first). Theory Two: I'm bored with straightforwardness, or distrust it, and want to find a way around it. Theory Three: it's the only way I can get these essays started. Form is a spur, a young star, a good wind behind me. It is an architecture worth exploring, or building slash rebuilding from the ground up. Or maybe it's that I'm trying to interrogate these forms, what they can do with or to language. That sounds complicated. And I'm not sure I believe it either.

Q: Why all the obfuscation slash trickeration?

A: Trickeration, a term I associate with ESPN's SportsCenter, and in particular the anchor/commentator Stuart Scott, meaning a tricky play, designed to fool (though further research unearths a Cab Calloway song by that title in 1931, referring to a Harlem style of dance, so ESPN doesn't own it, obviously), is probably fair. There's a certain amount of thought behind the formal play slash exploration, and I don't think of it as an aggressive thing, writer v. reader, but as another avenue for making or obtaining (or maybe enriching) meaning, giving pleasure. Plus it keeps me interested. And it serves another purpose: I'm not entirely comfortable with personal revelations. I'm not all that sure that I am interesting enough to talk about, but finally you get left alone and start to think. It protects names and dates, true identities.

Q: You are an ass.

A: While true, that is not a question.

Q: I don't think there's any point in self-abuse.

A: Also not a question, also maybe true.

Q: Why are you so awesome? You're, like, the most awesome writer?

A: There you go. That's a question. Shouldn't we all think that of ourselves? Otherwise why attempt the act of creation? Does the world need another mediocre book of essays slash memoir? Does James Frey care what I have to say?

Q: Those are questions; those aren't answers. You're supposed to be answering questions.

A: This is all very self-involved.

Q: No it's not—it's a kind of memo to the reader, isn't it?

A: Yeah.