PANK thinks that everything Deb Olin Unferth has written is must read material. Seriously. For a recent salvo, check out her story from the July Â Harpers. Â She recently granted us a little Q&A so long as we didn’t ask her questions about the Nobel prize for literature. We complied. Here it is.
PANK: Are you a book nerd?
UNFERTH: I don’t only read books. Sometimes I count the words in a book instead of reading them or in addition to reading them. Really. I just finished counting all the words in a book by Michael Ondaatje. I like to count words. I like knowing how many of them are in there.
PANK: Was there a transformative book for you as child?
UNFERTH: Yes, The Monster at the End of this Book, Starring Lovable, Furry, Old Grover. Â This is a beautiful, funny, scary, sad, and ultimately consoling little book.
PANK: Do you have a favorite book, author, movement, or genre?
UNFERTH: I have many favorites, and they change from year to year, but here are a few: Â Favorite books of stories: Venus Drive by Sam Lipsyte, Honored Guest by Joy Williams, In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders, Collected Stories of Franz Kafka; Â Favorite novels: Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia; Â Favorite memoirs: Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso; Â Favorite interview series: Paris Review; Â Favorite forthcoming books: How to Sell by Clancy Martin, Cardboard Universe by Christopher Miller. Â If I had to pick one writer as my favorite of all time, it would have to be Chris Ware.
PANK: What are you currently reading?
UNFERTH: I recently read Letters to Wendy’s by Joe Wenderoth, Grapefruit by Yoko Ono, 104 Stories by Thomas Bernhard, S*perm**k*t by Harryette Mullen. All super good. Â Right now I’m reading some work by Mickle Maher, a fantastic playwright.
PANK: Has being a book nerd made you a better cook and/or lover?
UNFERTH: I wouldn’t know. I’d have to go back in time, not read much for a decade, and then compare the two selves to see which is a better cook and/or lover. And then I might have a hard time being objective. We’d have to conduct some tests.
PANK: Are you currently engaged in a writing project?
UNFERTH: Yes, here is some of it: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/sick/
PANK: If you could make a fifteen-year-old kid sit down and read any book, what would it be?
UNFERTH: Maybe not The Communist Manifesto.
PANK: Is the book always better than the film adaptation?
UNFERTH: No, think of The Shining. The book is truly dismal. I went into the thing with a good attitude, but I came out very disappointed.
PANK: Do you have anything to say to all the other book nerds out there, any advice?
UNFERTH: Â Don’t eat animals. Â Keep a flashlight with you at all times. Â If someone shouts for a rope, be the one to throw it.