internet literature

Friday, April 25, 2008

interview with Zachary German

Zachary German has a blog and a book on Bear Parade. He was sort of born in 1990 and already has enemies. I randomly e-mailed him and asked him if i could interview him.

first question:

if someone said that what you do on your blog is just 'weird', how would you rename 'what you do' for them, and promote 'what you do' as a beneficial to living?

lets say you had to do this for a sixteen year old girl holding a Vitamin Water container, with blond hair, a nose, parents and a coat by Moschino Jeans.


I think 'weird' can mean any number of things. I imagine there is a definition of 'weird' that I would agree describes what I do on my blog.

I try for everything on my blog to be 'funny'.

I don't know if what I do is 'beneficial to living'. If I post funny
things then people might feel happy. I'm not sure what 'beneficial to living' means.


second question:

if you had an essay in the back of a literature anthology, would you talk about being an 'instrument' that the 'work' used to pass into this place from another one?


Probably not. I might want to, as a joke. I would probably write
something like that and then look at it and edit it for a long time
and then decide that it wouldn't be convincing and then write
something that I understood better. I'm not sure.

would you talk about andy worhal or lil wayne?

I'm not sure. I think most literature anthologies don't have anything
by Lil' Wayne or Andy Warhol.

I like everything Lil' Wayne's done since "Tha Carter II" a lot, and
the stuff before "Tha Carter II" a little bit.

I'm not very familiar with Andy Warhol. I like "From A to B and Back
Again: The Philosophy of Andy Warhol." I don't think I know enough
about either of their work to talk about them intelligently.

I would feel really nervous if I was asked to write an essay in the
back of a literature anthology. I don't think that will ever happen.


do you think lil wayne thinks of himself existentially as an artist?

Lil' Wayne thinks of himself as the best rapper alive. So yeah.

question 3:

your blog is 'funny'. parts of 'eat when you feel sad' are 'funny' too (we have been using the 'quotation' in this interview. i'm not sure if we have been using it correctly. there is a blog post about using 'quotations'somewhere, maybe you've read it. tao talks about it. i think it is useful in 'avoiding abstractions'). i think the 'funniness' in 'eat when you feel sad'comes from the 'simple', 'non-abstract sentences'. how do the sentences in 'eat when you feel sad' connect with how you felt when you were typing them?

(or if you don't understand that question, which i'm not sure i do either, talk about writing 'eat when you feel sad'. did you want it to be 'funny'? what were you 'feeling' when you wrote it?)


I wrote the sentences in 'Eat When You Feel Sad' in an attempt to look at life 'objectively'. Things were happening in my life that made me feel certain emotions. Later I tried to think about them.

I wanted 'Eat When You Feel Sad' to be funny. Funny things make me
feel better. I think literature that makes people feel better is
'successful.' I don't know what I mean by that.

I felt 'severely depressed' when I wrote 'Eat When You Feel Sad'. I
smiled a little when I typed that.

question 4:

how much of 'eat when you feel sad' is autobiographical?


Ninety one percent.

question 5:

i think your blog, what i originally discovered as 'organic pipe tobacco', is a little under a year old. the newest post reveals this like 'underbelly' of older blogs which i guess i'm not surprised by. did you start blogging before you started submitting writing? how does your writing and your blogging correlate?


I started my first blog in the fall of my freshman year in high
school. It was on Hatelife. Two of my friends from school had
Hatelifes. Hatelife was really cool. Then it went away. I think
it's back now.

I have hardly submitted anything. I have performed the act of
'submitting work' maybe six times, starting fall of 2007. So I
probably blogged for four years before I started submitting.

When there is something that I think is good I put it on my blog
sometimes. Sometimes when something is on the internet and I look at it I know better how to edit it.

question 6:

talk about the difference in GOLDEN BEAR's shit-talking and that other blog post, that said you guys (tao lin etc.) 'were obsessed with talking about yourselves and how you had no money'.


The Golden Bear (...the Golden Bear!) is a noble opponent. The Jaguar Uprising is valiant.

But Bear Parade? We run this shit.

question 7:

how did you meet tao lin? how was your life different after you met him?


Tony O'Neill invited me to read with Tao, himself and some other
people last summer.

After meeting Tao I felt a little better.

question 8:
are you sick of these questions?


No they're fun.

question 9:

are you working on something now? if yes, talk about it.


I'm editing a longer, 'more direct', version of 'Eat When You Feel
Sad' to submit to and be rejected by publishing houses as a novel. It
uses no compound sentences.

question 10:

i feel like i'm getting annoying with these numbered questions, but i want to ask you something about the differences between writing poetry and fiction. i haven't read a lot of your poetry which i think is on 3AM and since i'm at work right now the filters block that site and i can't read them. something is blocking 'eat when you feel sad' too. your blog posts sometimes feel like poems, even if they have pictures and videos, and some of them are actually poems. there is a lorrie moore character who writes plays and in his relationships he talks to people like they're writing a play with him, or they're 'in his plays'. do you ever feel like that? do you feel like a writer/poet all the time? like maybe this interview will be in a story at some point and we're talking like we know it's going to be in it. (the characters are annoyed by the way the play write when they talk to him at one point, but it may be for another reason.)


As things happen in my life I realize that I will write about them.

Sometimes when I talk to people I think 'This is how people talk' and
try to remember it so I can write better.

question 11:

what kind of writing education did you have, if any? what were some of the things 'teachers' told you were good to do that you keep in mind when you write?


I was in honors English in high school. The summers after seventh and eighth grades I went to a writing program for children that scored
high on the SAT.

A teacher told me 'Show don't tell'. I don't keep that in mind when I
write. I don't keep anything that teachers told me in mind when I
write. I'm a ------- badass!

question 12:

the 'objectivity' in 'eat when you feel sad' does a good job of showing a 'range' of 'emotion' and each 'chapter' seems 'complete' or 'whole'. did you think, 'i want robert to start off doing this and then end up feeling sad in this chapter', or did it develop sentence by sentence? did you have a 'vision' for each chapter, then a 'vision' for the whole story and then go in and add the details?


The earliest 'chapters' of 'Eat When You Feel Sad' that I wrote were
not meant to be part of something larger. As I wrote more 'chapters'
I made an effort to keep them from relying on each other. I try to
make 'chapters' that reference earlier 'chapters' function as well for
the reader who has read the earlier 'chapters' as for one who has not.

One of the things I tried to keep in mind when writing 'Eat When You
Feel Sad' was that the character should not change at all during the
story. I mean for Robert to start and end every 'chapter' in exactly
the same situation.

I wish I had had more visions. Vision quest. I am a cantaloupe.


question 13:

do you think you could, or would want to ever write something with compound sentences?


Are there no compound sentences in the Bear Parade version? I'm
editing for the novel and am constantly annoyed at all the compound
sentences I find in previously unedited 'chapters'. I 'could' write
something with compound sentences. I probably will in the future. I
don't want to right now.

question 14:
this could be incriminating, but do you ever write 'under the influence' and if so has it ever been something you are proud of?


I have written 'under the influence'.

When writing 'Eat When You Feel Sad' I often wrote notes about what
had happened during the night – bits of conversation, thoughts, what
something looked like – before I went to sleep, while I was still a
little 'under the influence', and then tried to write about them
objectively when I was no longer 'under the influence.'

I have never thought about whether or not I was 'proud' of writing
'under the influence.' I have never been 'proud' of writing 'under
the influence.'

question 15:

do you read things that are considered 'classics'? do you read things that are considered 'contemporary'? what would you say your influences are?


I think Ernest Hemingway and Bret Harte are both 'classics'. I read
both of them.

The other people on Bear Parade are 'contemporary.' I read all of them.

I have felt influenced by Ernest Hemingway, Bret Harte, Tao Lin, Noah Cicero, Ellen Kennedy, Ann Beattie, Joy Williams, Lorrie Moore,
Richard Yates, Dennis Cooper, Peter Sotos and many other writers.


question 16:

what made you 'feel better'? finishing 'eat when you feel sad' or seeing 'eat when you feel sad' up on Bear Parade?


When I finished the version of 'Eat When You Feel Sad' that appears on Bear Parade I felt happy. I looked at it in Microsoft Word and read
it a lot and felt really happy.

When I saw 'Eat When You Feel Sad' on Bear Parade I laughed. I
thought there might be a forty but I was still surprised when there
was a forty. I felt happy.

I don't know which made me feel better. They both made me feel happy.


question 17/18:
what's the last song you listened to?


'True Affection' by The Blow. It's the last song on the album 'Paper
Television.' I listened to 'Paper Television' on the subway. I like
'Paper Television'. I like 'The Blow'.

what's the last thing you ate?

Corn chips.

1 comment:

The Golden Bear said...

I am The Golden Bear!
(...thegoldenbear!)

I would like to be interviewed on this blog. Your people may call my people.

thegoldenbearsofficialemail@gmail.com