Housefire interviews Jimmy Chen (reblogged, kinda)
HF: As a teenager, what character from literature did you most identify with? If the book was written about you instead of that character, but the basic set-up of the story remained the same, what would you do differently?
JC: Levin from Anna Karenina. I can’t remember the details, but he was the honest/earnest farmer who was obsessed with soil, and while everyone else was having affairs and dying, he remained monk-chill. Neither Levin or I got laid during the month I read that huge book. If I was in the story, I’d probably pay an illegal immigrant to handle the outside farm work while I watched from a tiny window, in my slippers drinking Cognac and listening to Leonard Cohen.
HF: Tell me about my childhood. What was I like? What was the most important thing that ever happened to me?
JC: According to your facebook, you were born in January 1984, which makes you 27 years old, at the cusp between Generation-x and -y (the former to which I, verily, belong.) As a Gen x/y-er, you are at once both modernistly-morbid and postmodernly-cynical, like you are innately mildly depressed, yet self-consciously detached about said ’90s-saturated affliction. The most important thing that happened to you was firmly saying Radiohead was over-rated at a dinner party in 2009 in Portland, Oregon.
HF: You fall in love with a man made out of your own breath, and as luck would have it, he loves you too. Tell me about it. From beginning to end, what happens between you two? Give this story a bitchin’ title.
JC: The story is titled HALITOSIS, and it formally begins after this period. As pulmonary apparitions go, Sir Kahn—or as he preferred to cough, Kahn Sir—was tinted with last summer’s sun, charred into the hip-hop race. As luck would have it, our tryst began at the tips out of our tongues, down the bronchial path, where our love lay dormant at the fork of breath before the lungs. And there, so close to my heart, in the aviary of my ribs, I could hear his. Boom, it went, boom boom, like a suicide bomb overseas, where the sun, sadder, sings sweetly with the badness of its breath called light. And I would have touched my own glistening love, every night that slow decade, had I not been wearing a condone.
HF: Take the title of your favorite Tom Cruise movie (unless you don’t have a favorite, in which case just use the last one you saw) and write a teeny tiny piece of flash fiction based on the title of this chosen film. Do not mention Tom or anything from the original plot. Now write a second story for the same title. Now a third.
JC: You are getting “free” literature from me. I am a paid freelance writer. God, what I do for these kidz 2day. Okay, the following three pieces are titled EYES WIDE SHUT (by the way, I’m the founding editor of Titular, and methinks you are ripping off my idea): (1) I woke up with the sensation of two warm things over each closed eyelid. I had fallen asleep to a three hour movie. The thing on my eyes were Stanley Kubrick’s balls. He had not bathed lately, as far as I could smell. (2) You are getting “free” literature from me. I am a paid freelance writer. God, what I do for these kidz 2day. Okay, the following three pieces are titled “Meta-fiction.” (3) Here’s a story, of a lovely lady, who waz bringing up three very lovely girls, all of them had Aryan pubic hair, like your mom, the youngest one was of legal age in Alabama.
HF: You wake up and find you are haunted by every heart you ever broke. There is no threat to you, but ghostly versions of the hearts of your former loves float in the air behind you, just beating, beating, beating away. Tell me about it. How many are there? How does it all shake out?
JC: Oh, please, Mr. Metazen, you do flatter me, for ‘tis not I who have broken hearts, but the other way around! True, it takes two to Tango, but it only takes one to do the Robot—now imagine that robot hand checking its own oil. Of the women whose hearts I have blindly clawed in, they are all doing well, with the help of (a) medication, (b) more optimal suitors, (c) professional careers, and/or (d) the slow numbing abnegation of lost love. I am not a name dropper, as my hernia is fixed
HF: Please write a poem about having a twin. For the purposes of this poem you are a woman and you are well into your thirties. You have never made love, and neither has your sister. One of you is pretty. You do not have to include any of that information, but you should know that it is true.
JC: I only do haikus, because I’m at work. And I prefer to be paid by the word, so your requests are somewhat glib and unrealistic.
the thing about rooms
when she’s in one, alone
is that i love that room
HF: Tell me about the next book you want to read, as in tell me about a book you wish would be written just for you. Who is the author? What is the subject matter? Tell us as much as you can.
JC: I want a 17-year-old male who is emotionally abused by his alcoholic father to write a novel about running away, driving across the country to meet a girl he met online. But I don’t want the driving portion to be like Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, or Denis Johnson. I don’t want any fucking or drinking in my novel. I don’t want empathetic portraits of middle-America or lyrical descriptions of dusk and/or dawn. This needs to be the opposite of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Oprah must not get involved, and Jonathan Franzen must deride it in a drunken youtube clip where he’s not wearing his glasses. This novel must not involve horses, Brooklyn, or arguing inside a 2br apartment. The kid ends up getting lost and not finding the girl’s house. The publisher loses an endorsement from GPS. So he gets a job at the Verizon store in the mall and becomes the manager after seven years. The last sentence of this novel is: and it formally begins after this period.
HF: They build a house out of your memories, and not just your memories of houses, and not just the good or bad ones, but every memory you carry with you. Tell me about the kitchen. What it is it made of? And the room you sleep in - tell me about that.
JC: Seems like you are interviewing Blake Butler, whose spirit for the images you have evoked are unbound. He has a better spirit than me, and is technically my editor in a non-applicable symbolic way, for a cutting-edge literary website that does not need to be explicitly mentioned. I’m only mentioning him because interviews which include the words “Blake Butler” tend to receive more hits, and like my love life, unlike Frank Hinton’s, I do need hits. Oh god, please. Hits as in a lush ass. Will somebody just fuck me? Or let me fuck them? What about just taking six NyQuils or some Sudafed and letting me handle the rest? I’ll even put on some Nick Drake. Stock up on Clorox wipes and Nutella. How did this interview turn out this way? Will this be on an RSS feed? Will this be facebooked?