What the hell are you doing over there in Japan?
I just changed jobs a few months ago. For the three years I was
doing international relations work, including translating, interpreting for
foreign guests and organizing events. I had dinner with the President of
Tanzania once. Now I teach English to elementary and middle school kids. They
are all geniuses, although they have a tendency to punch me in sensitive
places. The other day one of them asked me how many tigers I have.
What do you miss most about the states?
I love the United States. I don't think people should move to Canada.
That will just ruin Canada. Every country and culture has it's own particular
insanity, a unique mode of craziness. Granted, we're not looking so hot right
now, but we made it through the Civil War and Nixon, right? We'll be fine. To
answer the question, though: I miss Mexican food. And bagels. Mmm. Bagels.
How did you catch the attention of Kevin Sampsell and get your book
One day I was walking down the street and began to wonder what life would be
like for a person who, for some reason, is incapable of turning left. I went
home and cooked up a list of ways to deal with odd problems, which the
McSweeney's website was kind enough to put up for the world to see. Then Kevin
sent me an e-mail asking if I'd like to do a book, which was nice of him. I
almost erased it, thinking it was spam. I'm glad I didn't.
What do you think a good piece of fiction should do?
I like stories and books that function as little stand-alone universes. You
can take five hundred pages or six sentences to do it, as long as it's a world
of it's own, with it's own internal logic. The fiction I enjoy feels
like visiting a foreign country, or moving to a new town, or spending the
night in an unfamiliar house where everything smells a little bit different
and the furniture isn't quite where you'd expect it to be.
Tell me some of your favorite things!
Coffee. Tolerance. The Daily Show's Rob Corddry. Laughing. Being outside on a
brisk autumn morning. Getting off of airplanes. People who know when to stop
talking. Bagels. Mmm. Bagels.
Do you follow your own "strategies for modern living"?
Most of the strategies in my personal arsenal involve trying not to forget
about stuff, which I do often.
If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
How many tigers do you have?