Trampoline: an interview
Golden-laced Wyandotte roosters have striking plumage, but not too striking. It’s not overdone, you know, like the tails on White Leghorns. Unless I’ve misunderstood the question. Then it’s whatever W’s drinking.
Which of the seven deadly sins is your favorite these days?
In honor of the War on Terror (and Other Abstract Concepts), my favorite of the Seven Deadly Sins is Justice.
What’s your favorite rule of thumb?
In W’s words: Ignorance Is Strength.
Do you have any pets? How many? And if so, how do they affect your writing (if at all)?
We have five cats and a half-dozen birds. I write in shorter sentences than I used to. The birds are all pro-war. The cats are too smart for the rhetoric.
So, come out with it, already — you really believe in alien abductions. Don’t you? All sci-fi writers do…right?
How can you not believe in alien abductions? Or, more specifically, in alien abductions and replacements, as in the case of the current President of the United Now-Completely-Safe-&-Terror-free States?
What is the writer’s role in inhabiting the commercial spaces of publishing?
Never ever sell out. Ever. Especially if you can maintain your integrity while drinking a nice cool beverage like Coke, driving your Ford, and cruising around on good old fashioned American-made Exxon unleaded. Did you know that Exxon averages only one habitat-obliterating oil spill for every Persian Gulf War they underwrite?
Who’s been eating my porridge?
Sadam Hussein. Don’t you watch the White House briefings?
Who cleft the Devil’s foot?
Good question. Donne right? I prefer his famous:
“Who smokes crack in the White House, in back?”
Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the subject-verb agreement in the first question? I believe the cavalier idiot who’s asking for whom the trumpet toots is running for reelection in 2004.
What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
John Ashcroft’s fearful hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry with a load of wiretaps and surveillance. He knows you’re reading this right now, by the way. I bet you’ll vote twice next time, won’t you, if martial law is ever lifted.
What has it got in its pocketses?
My Colin Powell crucifix. My Fox News War Ticker text imager. My duct tape. My color guide to Terror Alert Codes. My Republican get-out-of-jail-free card. My “All Animals Are Equal, But Some ARE More Equal Than Others” Bush in 2004 stickers.
What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?
Yeats, right? Okay, enough with the poetry quiz. Donne, Blake, etc etc. Enough is enough.
What has it got in its ‘pocalypse?
Stumped. Milton? Joyce? Shakespeare? Chaucer? Ari Fliescher?
How far is it to Babylon?
Not far. It’s just ahead, under that giant oil well fire.
Can I get there by candlelight?
If you’re carrying an AK-47 and have a ton of air support.
“Where is last year’s snow?”
Siberia, Antarctica, the Himalayas, the last State of the Union address, or in some other repository for the sickenly sentimental.
Can you call spirits from the vasty deep? Will they come when you do call for them?
I can’t even get my two and a half-year old daughter to come when I call her.
What have you done with Dr. Millmoss?
What have you done with the real questions?
Best trampoline story you know (or, in lieu of story, rules for best trampoline game you’ve played).
I wasn’t allowed on the trampoline when I was a kid because we lived down the street from the Bushes and “Georgie” got a cranberry stuck in his nose and had to go to the hospital and my Mom said that’s not the kind of boy whose trampoline you’re going to play on.
What are your favorite kids’ books? What was your favorite when you were a kid (say, 10)?
“The Bewitched Anthology,” “Dagwood Loves Samantha,” “The Trials of Tabitha,” “Let’s Play Doctor with Dr. Bombay.”
What’s the most favorable sort of weather for your creative process?
Sandstorm of sufficient strength to interfere with bombing Iraqi children.
When’s the last time you changed your mind about something? I think I mean a radical shift of personal values — regarding art (“Suddenly, I’m not crazy about Billie Holiday, in fact, I’m not even sure I’m spelling her name right”), regarding anything (“Actually, you can go home again”).
Well, it’s been suggested to me recently that the Vice President actually is still alive. I’m open to considering it.
What book or books do you press upon friends?
Fixing Daddy’s Big Mistake: How W Only Sacrificed Thousands of Innocent Iraqi Children to Satisfy His Unrequited Homosexual Obsession with Sadam Hussein.
What can we, as a group, do to increase the popularity of multi-stage bicycle racing as a spectator sport in America?
We can demand that all cyclists wear facsimiles of the American flag while racing their courses through, around, and over carefully placed Iraqi little girls, aged two to six. We can play the national anthem throughout, slightly louder when a collateral obstacle gets taken out. Fox News can update fans on the changing status of terror alerts as the stages unfold.
What is the meaning of life?
It’s better to fly planes carrying weapons of mass destruction or be able to order men around who fly planes carrying weapons of mass destruction or to live in a country on whose behalf men fly planes carrying weapons of mass destruction than to (formerly) live underneath planes carrying weapons of mass destruction.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
I’d like to live in a satire of the War on Terror and other Abstract Concepts, because, being a satire of the insane, it would, I guess, have to be about a perfectly reasonable, contemplative country full of critically-thinking citizens, governed by caring, thoughtful, and mostly non-substance-abusing democratically-elected statesmen.
Gertrude Stein said: “I have destroyed sentences and rhythms and literary overtones and all the rest of that nonsense, to get to the very core of this problem of communication of intuition.” The relationship of form to content. Form as it facilitates communication, particularly communication of the remote, of the mysterious. Form as it permits the dramatization of states of mind. As it serves to make comprehensible the incomprehensible. What are your views on this subject?
I have to admit that at this point in the exam I’m worried most about whether I’ve exhausted every possible avenue to earmark myself for an FBI file. Some of my friends have them, why can’t I? Frankly, it’s embarrassing having worked for so long for a liberal university and not having caused the FBI to waste tens of thousands of dollars of surveillance on me. Thus far, though, it seems I haven’t provoked anything more than the occasional peeping of my neighbor Gus, who I’ve twice caught on a ladder outside my bathroom window in his French maid’s outfit.
Next — Vandana Singh