Friday, October 13, 2006

Ryan Boudinot, interrogated

Things discussed during Ryan Boudinot's reading on September 28:

A picture that made him look a bit like Kim Jong-Il; the fact that even though that linked article talks about how much Ryan loves Elliott Bay, he also really, really loves University Book Store; things going through Robert Plant's mind during Jimmy Page's solos; cereal.

Have you recently read a book that made you angry because someone else wrote it instead of you? If so, what was it?

Not angry, no. I read things all the time that I admire and when I read something that is in the vein of fiction I'm presently exploring, I admire it that much more. An example would be Wells Tower's story in the Anchor Book of New American Short Stories. I can't remember the name of the story, but it's about Vikings and it's great. [It's called "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned" and I agree that it is a heck of a good story—the Shelver.]

In grad school I experienced some of the usual creative writing jealousies and made a conscious effort to nip that tendency in the bud. When I read something a friend has written that is genuinely great, I want to celebrate it rather than scornfully wish I had written it. And ultimately, my theory is that this attitude leads me to write better.

A literary feud is a great way to get some publicity for a book. Who will you be starting a feud with and why?

I think we have too many feuds in this world. I think we could use fewer of them. Allen Ginsberg had a great quip when people would say he was fighting for peace, or fighting for other causes. He'd say that he wasn't fighting at all, he was working for peace. The feeling I get from observing a feud—literary or otherwise—is usually embarrassment for both parties. So no, I don't have a hankering to start any feuds.

And I disagree with the presumption of the question. A literary feud is a shitty way to get publicity for a book.

Here's one of those choices that I think speaks volumes about a person: Drow Thief-Acrobat or Paladin and why*?

I was actually always drawn to the Monk character type. My character for many years was a half-elf Monk named Mik. The reason I liked Monks so much was because they could do martial arts. Mik had a spider tattoo on his neck. There was a long-running ad in Dragon magazine where you could fill out a form, send in $10, and get your character "professionally illustrated." I did this. I sent $10 in bills in an envelope, plus $1 for lamination. A few weeks later I received the illustration, and was pretty blown away by it. Mik looked like a cross between Leif Garrett and Spock.

Say something nice about University Book Store.

Don't buy your used textbook online from shady dealers, buy them full price at University Book Store.

Any closing remarks?

Thanks for hosting me the other night at the store. I've read there 4 times and have enjoyed it every time. Plus, can't beat the complimentary bottled water provided to visiting authors.

* A bit of explanation, here. The Shelver** and Mr. Boudinot have a pre-existing social and writerly affiliation, and one of the things we know about each other is we were, in our youth, avid role-players. (Yeah, I said it.) The question here refers to the kinds of characters preferred: noble and heroic (the paladin), or dark and cagey (the thief). The question is a bit like asking whether you prefer Superman or Batman. Or, for those who are also not geeky enough to get the nuances of that comic book distinction, one might contrast The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. I hope this helps. It's tough to find a universal pop culture reference.

** I apologize for referring to myself in the third person.

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