1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?
Intense, impatient, seeking, moody, playful, intrigued with rhythm, uncommitted to narrative. Though this particular essay might be an outlier—more coy and penis-centric than most of what I write.
2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?
Annie Dillard, Marilyn Robinson, Eduardo Galeano, Mary Ruefle, Brian Doyle, Robert Vivian, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Tracy Kidder. The book I most recently read that made me feel like hollering to the masses was Vacationland by Sarah Stonich. It’s an elegant, organic, beautiful, compassionate novel.
3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?
Right now I teach writing in prison and it’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I’d continue to do that. If that’s cheating, I’d learn how to knit and make oversized sweaters; they would have uneven arms and unlovely patterns because I’m not a detail person. Or maybe I’d try my hand at bright, ill-pieced quilts that people would feel embarrassed to drape across their beds. I’m not bragging, just feigning grace at inevitable failure.
4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?
Matt Nelson, one of my dearest childhood friends, is a Jr. High principal somewhere in your fair city. Many years ago, in my early teens, we both lived in Lubbock and hung out at Davis Park and laughed a lot. His phone number and my address were one number off. Sometimes he’d come to my house, knock on my door, and when I answered, he’d say, “Oh, sorry; I think I knocked on the wrong phone number.” I often tell people if I were to move back to Texas, Austin is the placed I’d go; it’s the most-beloved city I’ve never visited.
5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.
What’s the best part about writing?
Inhabiting the far reaches of my own and others’ minds and hearts; it gives me hope.