|Born||(1972-02-03) February 3, 1972|
I realise I might pass down an incurable illness to my son, but living based on what might go wrong seems like less and less of a life as I get older. The one thing I can try to control is whether I teach my child to be ruled by anxiety, by fear. That’s something that gets passed down, too.
Shirley Jackson enjoyed notoriety and commercial success within her lifetime, and yet it still hardly seems like enough for a writer so singular. When I meet readers and other writers of my generation, I find that mentioning her is like uttering a holy name.
I’d read at a much higher-than-average grade level since, well, grade school.
Since Queens is the most ethnically diverse plot of land on Earth, we had tenants from all over the globe. The whole world in one building.
The profession is never going back to those days when a handful of wealthy people treated publishing like a hobby: one where the business can lose money because the family has lots of it to burn. Frankly, I don’t think that model was ever sustainable, and it really only enriched a small number of writers.
I weighed 25 stone, and I didn’t stand nine feet tall, so the weight didn’t sit well on me. As big as a house? No. I was as big as an estate.
If you want to learn the true nature of a child you have to watch how she plays. If you want to learn the true nature of an adult you have to watch how she does her job.
‘Dark Gods,’ T. E. D. Klein’s book of four novellas, felt like a godsend – even if it came from a deformed god, one that lurked beneath our sidewalks.
Fear warps our understanding of reality and even our ability to see reality clearly.
I can’t inhabit my characters until I know what kind of work they do. This requires research because my jobs for the last decade have been author and professor, and I’d like to spare the world more author or professor novels.
There are times when I need to dig up the diagram for a type of satellite dish, for instance, but I just can’t seem to phrase this need correctly. As a result, I’m inundated by advertising for satellite television and people’s online customer reviews of such services when, in fact, I was only trying to figure out what a certain component is called.
Miniature golf, like billiards, is a game of angles. And, like billiards, most of the fun is in pretending you know what the hell you’re doing. The worse you do, the more you have to laugh.
‘The Ballad of Black Tom’ was written, in part, during the latest round of arguments about H. P. Lovecraft’s legacy as both a great writer and a prejudiced man. I grew up worshipping the guy, so this issue felt quite personal to me.
When I find the right information, the Web is a blessing; when I don’t, it’s a distraction.
For as long as I could remember, the person in E23 pasted the same Halloween decoration, a witch with a giant wart on her crone’s nose, but whenever kids rang, the tenant wouldn’t answer. At first, kids figured they’d just missed the guy: bad timing. But it seemed impossible that all of us missed him every year.
In fiction, it’s a big challenge to keep the reader in one place for so long.
When I finished graduate school, I had a master’s of fine arts from a prestigious institution, a manuscript that would eventually become my first published book – and almost no marketable skills.
‘The Sundial’ is written with the kind of humor that would make a guillotine laugh.
The project of Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ is exactly that: to assert the beautiful, bountiful, chaotic complexity of one black American male. And, by extension, all black American males.
Booksellers are the bartenders of the reading world. People share thoughts and interests they keep private from others in their lives.
It’s tough to write beautifully about ugly things, but Mitchell S. Jackson makes it look easy.
The devil that stayed with me most vividly was the one from the cover of Iron Maiden’s ‘Number of the Beast’ album.
As a 13-year-old fan of horror fiction, I hadn’t seen too many cities in the literature I loved. It was always small towns, or backwoods locales, or maybe the suburbs.
On June 23, 1864, Ambrose Bierce was in command of a skirmish line of Union soldiers at Kennesaw Mountain in northern Georgia. He’d been a soldier for three years and, in that time, had been commended by his superiors for his efficiency and bravery during battle.
I hadn’t stopped fearing the chance of passing on an illness, but that fear had become balanced by the observation that being ill wasn’t the same as being beaten.
Here’s the thing: I was charming. Well read and well spoken. Observant and even kind. In other words, I was kind of a catch. And I knew this was true. As long as you couldn’t see me. If you saw me, you’d think I was the sea cow that had swallowed your catch.
Education is gathering information and reading… No human being can thrive without some form of education. How you get it is up to you – the important thing is that you get it.
The people I am most interested in are the ones on the edge of losing everything and falling into the last bit of despair. I’m trying to write about how people exist on that edge and how they can come back.
I couldn’t get a date, but I couldn’t be quite sure how unattractive I’d become. I was still friendly; I made jokes, and in my mind, if I saw a woman smiling at me… I still had a chance. I did not.
I had a pretty bad time when I was an undergraduate at Cornell University. I failed out of school. I was much, much heavier.
Lumpy and lazy; I aspired to lethargy. In the second year of university, I missed half my classes just because I couldn’t pull myself out of bed.
What’s beautiful about Godzilla is, of course, it’s in every way a symbol of Japan dealing with the aftermath of the atomic bombs being dropped on them, and their ideas of how they’re affected by it.
I have a very intimate knowledge of the world of the mentally ill and of life inside of, especially, public hospitals and the way people are treated in there and the way that they try to survive in there.
‘The Devil’s Dictionary’ reads like a collection of great Twitter posts. And as people do with tweets, they can swipe Bierce’s best lines and recite them as nearly their own. The reflected glory of reposting.
In the past, a writer had to go outside and get to know others before learning about their work, but the Internet has made humanity more accessible for misanthropes like me. I read blogs, tweets, Facebook posts and Reddit threads where people detail their jobs.
People use the notion of God to bully people and hurt people, when we can use the concept to respect and uplift.
Our family suffers from a hereditary condition called, generally, mental illness. Specifically, multiple family members in successive generations have suffered from either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
One of the things that doesn’t come up as much as it should, especially in literary fiction, is this idea of faith and God… I feel like those are things that should be wrestled with… because they are such an integral part of our community on every level.
I wanted to write a story set in the Lovecraftian universe that didn’t gloss over the uglier implications of his worldview.
The horror genre is vast and full of brilliance. Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Herman Melville, the book of Esther. I’ll happily join that list.
One of the most widely read novels by a black American is Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man.’ It is his masterwork – it won the National Book Award in 1953 and catapulted my man to the highest levels of literary esteem.
The journalistic endeavor – at least theoretically – is grounded in objectivity. The goal is to get you to understand what happened, when and to whom.
I’m always trying to make myself laugh. I’m the most enthusiastic audience I’m likely to find, so if it doesn’t make me smile then it probably won’t work on you. The jokes that only make me shrug get cut.
I’m a big fan of monsters. Number one, they’re fun, and two, they’re such great ways to access the subconscious fears and beliefs of any group of people.
Whether it was H. P. Lovecraft’s doomed towns or Shirley Jackson’s lonely, looming ‘The Haunting of Hill House,’ the boondocks had all the fun. As a black kid in Queens, New York, I couldn’t have felt more removed.
I’ve spent my life visiting a handful of people who are very close to me when they’ve been committed to one hospital or another in New York.
Social media give me the privilege of learning about more people than I could meet in my whole life. Taken together, the Internet reads like the grandest character-driven novel humanity has ever known. Not much plot, though.
You can’t write a story about a mental hospital in the United States without facing the grand example of ‘Cuckoo’s Nest.’
I know that many authors say editors don’t edit anymore, but that’s not been true in my experience.
The best monsters are our anxieties given form. They make sense on the level of a dream – or a nightmare.
I didn’t grow up in a small New England town like the one in ‘The Sundial.’ I was raised in an apartment building in Queens, not in a sprawling, slightly sinister mansion like the one where the Halloran family resides.
Fear warps our understanding of reality and even our ability to see reality clearly.
Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ was a story about the fear of immigration; the bad old bloodsucker swooping in from Eastern Europe and also preying upon ‘our’ vulnerable women.
There’s the wonder of being able to do research from your own living room, of course. I do find that my biggest research issue, though, is how to frame my questions.
I like America, where believers eddy around each other like currents of air. Even our atheists are devout! To be an American is to be a believer. I don’t have much faith in institutions, but I still believe in people.
In the end, what’s any good reader really hoping for? That spark. That spell. That journey.
One of the reasons I love devils so much is not based in my faith, but because as a kid, I grew up loving heavy metal and horror movies, and the devil is such a huge presence in both.
Clothes are a kind of uniform. A nun’s habit, a surgeon’s scrubs, a cop’s uniform. People often say that when they put on a certain uniform, they actually think of themselves differently.
I was dressed like Darth Vader. Vader was my man, even with the villainy. He wore all black and had a deep voice; he reminded me of my uncle. I had a cheap mask-cape combo, the kind available at any pharmacy during October.