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Smoking With Amanda Nazario

I am fading among my own smoke by Hamed Masoumi
"I am fading among my own smoke" by Hamed Masoumi,
via Creative Commons license
Great story! Tell us a bit about the idea for this piece. Have you written other "funny" pieces?
Hey, is it okay if I indicate when Iím laughing, even though this is a typewritten interview? It is? Okay. (Laughs) Um, this is a piece about unrequited love, of course, something everyone is familiar with. But itís also about living in a community of close friends who all know each otherís business. Iím proud to call myself a part of such a community—mostly the friends I went to grad school with, but others too, who are familiar with each otherís work and personal details because you canít know one without knowing the other. This story evolved from similar ones weíve made up about each other through the years.

I donít like to write anything that I donít get a private chuckle out of. A lot of my work has a "funny" bent (good call using the quotes, by the way), especially in the dialogue: people making cruel jokes about each other, speaking in trendy idioms, or just yelling. I find all these things delightful.

— And Iíll go, 'So? Darling? Iím doing a book too! Donít you think Iím doing a book? We are ALL doing books!" — This made me smile. So, are you, Amanda, doing a book?
Well, kind of. Iím doing a lot of different things that all want to be books, but I donít know which one is most likely to make it. I would love for all my short stories and cartoons and DJ patter to come together somehow, someday, and hopefully that wonít have to wait until the TV movie they make about me after I die in some weird scandal. It would be nice to see all that stuff in a book instead, during my lifetime, wouldnít it? I realize this might be a good opportunity to choose a cool-sounding project to pitch. (Laughs) In case it isnít too late for that, one thing Iím working on is a book of 30 very short personal essays, like one or two pages each, accompanied by illustrations.

I really like how you end this flash. What made you use this as the end line?
When I was writing this the whole drama—or, rather, melodrama—dropped into my head very fast. I think that last line might have been the first one I thought of and then I worked backwards from it. This woman has the entire story of a non-love affair scripted out, and the reader has to believe that yes, it will happen this way. But once she considers the actual love, she has no idea what to make of that... because you never know what falling in love will entail until you do it. So Iíve heard.

Youíre also a DJ. How often does music show up in your writing?
All the damn time. (Laughs) My friend Summer Pierre, who illustrated this piece, has said that using music as a reference point is a slippery slope because no one song means exactly the same thing to everyone, and also because you risk alienating whoever has never even heard of that song. But I come down on the other side of that argument: I think that by referencing something that fits a certain niche, you can touch a lot of people who understand what that songís about, or didnít know that they did—or you can get them to go out and listen to it if they donít know it. Often Iíll mention a song and then stick the lyrics in, have a character hear or sing them. That probably means Iím a better DJ than I am a writer. (Sighs)

And you draw cartoons. Ever considered making this story into a cartoon?
What, it isnít perfect the way it is? (Laughs) People ask me this a lot about my fiction—whether Iíd consider converting it to pictorial form. But my drawings are different tonally from my fiction; theyíre either completely autobiographical or kind of zany and absurd. Definitely more R. Crumb than Adrian Tomine, and, you know, not actually good like either of those. To answer the question, though: no for this particular story. For some other story later on, maybe. I do have some stories that Iíve crudely illustrated, sort of Vonnegut-style, but Vonnegut already did that so I feel weird about it.

Read Matt: How It Will Happen.

Issue Twenty-Five (June 25, 2009): Bush Chanting by Cynthia Helen Beecher «» Flying Pens by Pam Bolton «» Rats by Z.Z. Boone «» The Hobblers by Dan Chaon «» Slanguistic Lipstick by Frank Dahai «» Rain by Natalie DeClerck «» Good Friday by Steven Gullion «» Me and Theodore Are Trapped in the Trunk of the Car with Rags in Our Mouths and Tape Around Our Wrists and Ankles, Please Let Us Out. by Mary Hamilton «» Underfoot by Joan Harvey «» A Minor Setback by Tara Laskowski «» Woman in a Bar by Dorianne Laux «» Matt: How It Will Happen by Amanda Nazario «» Trace by Darlin' Neal «» Exile on Payne Street by Ryan Ridge «» Home Economics by Gail Louise Siegel «» A Funny Smell by Ray Vukcevich «» Andersonville by Lindsay Marianna Walker «» Northern Migration by Brandon Wicks «» Interviews: Cynthia Helen Beecher «» Pam Bolton «» Z.Z. Boone «» Dan Chaon «» Frank Dahai «» Natalie DeClerck «» Steven Gullion «» Mary Hamilton «» Joan Harvey «» Tara Laskowski «» Dorianne Laux «» Amanda Nazario «» Darlin' Neal «» Ryan Ridge «» Gail Louise Siegel «» Ray Vukcevich «» Lindsay Marianna Walker «» Brandon Wicks «» Cover Art "The Vanishing Lotus" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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