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Q and A

Sep 04, 2010; Someone who totally isn't Stacey. Nope. Not at all. Asks:

Which currently-alive/-relevant (so, Abe Vigoda doesn't count) celebrities do you have the biggest crush on? Pick at least 1 from each sex, please.

Explain you answer.

Be specific.

Your loving interrogator,
Someone who is NOT you

P...S... This also isn't Liam. No way.

Stacey answers:

Okay. Boys: Tom Hardy, because he's got all that sexy charisma. Clive Owen, because he loves me, I'm pretty sure. Sacha Baron Cohen, because I'm just so right for him. Tiger Woods, because he sounds like fun and I want to have Ambien sex.

Girls: Britney Spears, because it's fun to have sex with crazy people and I love her weird wide-eyed face. And Megan Fox: no explanation required.

Aug 21, 2010; littleshirlybeans Asks:

Dear Stacey, I want to send you pictures of our vacation together aka "Our Date With Stacey Richter" (the one to Tucson involving David Sedaris), can I send them to the email address that's here on this site? I promise they are not creepy and I am not creepy. I just don't want to post the link for all to see. I sort of took your advice about the derby name. My name is...Malice in Derbyland!!! Thanks for your help. Finally, how do you suggest I deal with violence in my writing. Most of my ideas for stories have been violent lately and this is a new development. I started one recently and it just became more and more violent with every word and it kind of scares me. Suggestions? Lots of love from New Mexico! Littleshirlybeans

Stacey answers:

Hi Littleshirly, Yes, just send them to I'm excited! If I don't get them I'll post further instructions here. I love Malice in Derbyland--you gals sounds scary and cute.

Try not to be too disoriented when violence pops up in your writing. Go with it if you can. Violence is a form of conflict and conflict is what makes fiction chug forward. Though it may make you feel like a freak, remember that everyone has violent thoughts and fantasies. Nuns, ballerinas, woodworkers, veterinarians--they all carry around images of stabbing their mothers and strangling the UPS man and removing other people's heads. But sometimes these thoughts are beneath the surface, since civilization requires a certain amount of repression so we can function as social creatures. Women, especially, are taught to do some nice repression in this area, which is why we're disturbed when the violence shoots to the surface like a balloon we were holding underwater and forgot about. Oh no, what's that? It's violence! What does it mean? It means you're a normal person! It doesn't mean you're depraved or unnice or a budding sociopath. But it might mean you're angry. That can be scary, yes. Things that inspire anger are usually things that hurt you, with anger forming a scab around the wound that starts to bleed if you pick at it. No one likes doing this. But the weird thing is that no one likes not doing it either. Sometimes you have to pick at the violent-angry-pain scab. Itís part of making art. Which is another reason why making art is not exactly pleasant.

Aug 19, 2010; Have you ever... Asks:

posed as someone posting a question so you could just answer something that happened to be on your mind? What I'm asking is, are there fake posters among us?

Stacey answers:

Yes, but I don't do it that often. I usually do it when I have something on my mind or feel forlorn that no one's asked me a question for a while. The first-ever two questions were my own because there was no one else around and I wanted to set the tone--one is about writing, one is about boys.

Not that you asked, but if you want to look them up, here's a list of all the pseudonyms I've used for self-posts, going backward in time: One Who Wonders, The Wonderer, Philibert, grape popsicle, Beehive Hairdo, Papusa of the Night, Official A, Chrysalis, Leela Johnson, INVADED, Bunny Hat, and Cree-8-ive.

It sounds like a lot but it's not that many. It includes all the questions with pictures in the answers (these are mostly pictures of insects, but there's also a REAL NOTE from my mother), a plea to young writers not to move heavy objects (since my back became so fucked from moving heavy objects), a plea to post reviews of Twin Study on Amazon (completely ignored), and some thoughts on writing sex scenes. So most of the question are real. The fakes often have a public-service slant. Do I feel guilty? Yes, I feel guilty. From now on, I'll make all the fake ones come from Cree-8-ive. She has questions. Lately she has questions about grammar and usage, but she's been holding back.

Aug 19, 2010; Wag Asks:

Hello Stacey! How's this idea: You write a book and make a short (2-3 minute) film of one section of the book. Post that film on and solicit pledges to publish the book yourself! What do you think?

Stacey answers:

I don't know--what's Kickstarter? Also, there's one tricky section in this scheme that I tripped over, the part where you say: "You write a book."

Okay, I looked up Kickstarter. That's a great site! I don't think I need it right now, since I've been able to find commercial publishers for my books, so far anyway, and I don't want to suck up people's charity seed money if I don't need it. But I bet there's a lot of writers and artists who could get things going with that.

P.S. I finally answered your question about hand-washing from a few months ago.

Aug 08, 2010; Liam (aka Asks:

How do you feel about the Oxford comma? I know you're a Strunk & White girl, so I'm curious to see how you respond.

Your dashing, courteous, and elegant acolyte,

Stacey answers:

Uh, is that the same as the serial comma? I always use it, except when describing sweet little bunny rabbits. I though everyone used it, but what the hell do I know? I still can't spell half the words in the English language. My favorite style writer, by the way, is Bryan Garner. Modern American Usage is great, and though I know it doesn't sound promising for general writers, I still find his The Elements of Legal Style to be totally bitchin'.

Aug 02, 2010; Paul Asks:

Stacey, This is a bit strange to admit, but for years I have carried around a line from a book review of yours. In it, you call Katie Roiphe "a doofus." Since she struck again yesterday in the NYT -- fave bumper sticker that never was: Katie Happens! -- I felt forced to look up your old review. I saw that you actually wrote "Katie Roiphe is an idiot." I'm wondering if you could explain the difference between a "doofus" and an "idiot." Why is Roiphe the latter and not the former? And, if you could: can you recommend a remedy for her situation? Thanks! A Loyal Fan

Stacey answers:

I'd say a doofus is a goof mixed with a clown, like a grownup dude with excess thirteen-year-old-boy residue left inside of him. The doofus will yell "arrggh" from the window of a moving car because for a doofus, this is fun. An idiot, by contrast, is someone who possesses quite a bit of mastery yet suffers from a constitutional inability to think straight. It's common for idiots to be smart and accomplished: plenty of doctors, for instance, are big fat idiots. Idiothood can be disorienting (and sometimes destructive) because it manifests itself as a blind spot in the center of the idiot's expertise. Since in the New York Times article, Katie Roiphe misunderstands the modern culture she's analyzing and inserts her own psychological landscape in its place, one might be tempted to put her in the category of idiot, yes. But I have to say, I feel really bad for calling her that, and I sort of think she's a fascinating writer. I understand that people might be annoyed by her prose, which veers toward the overwrought, but it also has the quality of being a true cri de coeur. I mean, she really means it. She deeply, honestly believes that Mad Men, a show all about repression, is a show all about partying. And that she is forever excluded from this party.

Maybe it is a little confusing though, because I don't think she's dead earnest about every single thing she says. I'm sure she realizes that most of us don't go through agonies in the diary aisle. She's going for style. She's using hyperbole. If I were her editor, I'd suggest she use the first person rather than "we" since it can be difficult, as a reader, to be included in Roiphe's puritanical world (I don't know about you, but I'm totally drunk right now). I think she doesn't mean the we literally as a we. I think she means it as an I.

Is there a remedy? Good question, Paul, good question. For doofuses, time often takes care of the problem. A little maturity, a few backfires in the doofus behavior, a broken arms or a DUI, and you're on your way to being an ex-doofus. Idiothood is trickier. Seeing clearly, and knowing the difference between your inner self and the outer world is a valiant goal, but I don't know how to teach that. A clear-sighted intellect is rare and often earned at a great price: pain, illness, craziness, loss, time, plus luck. How did Joan Didion get to be Joan Didion? Go figure. But somehow she knows how to look at the world and to look at herself and find the deep, resonant commonalities. She's done this, by all accounts, while knocking back martinis and smoking her brains out and raising a child and writing movie scripts and living in bad neighborhoods and, from time to time, going to the grocery store in her bikini. Maybe there's a lesson in that, as we wage our own battles not to be idiots.

Jul 27, 2010; Liam, a man of unquestionable integrity and maturity Asks:

Ever see "Short Circuit?" 80's robot movie with Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy? "NO DISASSEMBLE NUMBER FIVE!?!"

Whaddya think?

Profoundly yours,
Liam G.

Stacey answers:

Yes, I have seen it. I haven't seen it in a long time, though as I recall it features an adorable moppet-robot. I'd have to see it again to comment on it, though I'm sure I'd say something nice because my cousin's husband produced it. I think?

I like robots.

Jul 20, 2010; Mad Woman Asks:

Do you watch Mad Men and isn't it just brilliant? What do you think of the portrayal of women on the show? -or- Why does a show that portrays such in-your-face misogyny and repression and still attract such devoted female viewers?

Stacey answers:

Yes, I watch Mad Men, and yes I like it a lot, though I find it uneven so only brilliant in spots. I love the art direction, and I love some of the characters, and I love the smoking and drinking and window coverings and telephones. I'm also really interested in the formless, short story-like plots, though I'm still not sure if they work for me or not. I wish Don Draper had an actual character, rather than just a wardrobe, and I wish the characters didn't have so many meetings, since meetings on TV are just as boring as meetings in real life. But my big problem with the show is that I'm constantly distracted by the anachronisms in the plot and dialogue (no kid in 1962 would say: "Hey dad, what's up?" and no sane woman would ever go jogging). And I'm incessantly irritated by valley-girl acting of January Jones. I know, she's supposed to be stiff, but I'm always aware of the effort she's making, and the lack of nuance in her botoxed face. Her part is so big and pivotal that there are times when it kind of ruins it for me.

As for the womens, I think they love it for several reasons. First of all, men look great in suits, and though John Hamm would probably look like a refugee from Thirty Something in a pair of jeans, you cannot deny him in a suit. The women's clothes are also great. And the misogyny isn't sincere! It drips with irony and social criticism--so we can enjoy it even as we long for those poor women to get hit by the feminist movement. Plus a lot of that sexism is still around, it's just become more subtle or lurks beneath the surface, in, say, advertising (any ladies out there feeling wrinkled and fat?). It's bracing, in a way, to see bias portrayed so strongly. It tugs on our sense of injustice while not requiring us to think about our own lives. That's pretty much my definition of entertainment.

Jul 15, 2010; Bravery Asks:

You're a brave woman to talk openly about being dumped by Rick Moody. I mean, I don't know him, but he seems like a formidable person to be dumped by.

Stacey answers:

Thanks for the propers. Really though, I was not brave so much as tuned-out. It was only when I was waiting on the line to be interviewed (about the mix tape I made for Rick to make him love me--it didn't work) that I realized, Oh fuck, I am about to go on the radio to talk about being dumped by Rick Moody. But oh well, whatever. It's awful to be dumped by anyone, and I was gaga over Rick, but that was a long time ago and he's such a great friend now and I love him and his wife and baby and I'm positive it all worked out for the best. Plus it's his loss. Plus I don't care. Time heals all wounds. No biggie. It's fine. No prob. I'm over it.

Jul 03, 2010; capabilityochre Asks:

Do you suppose there is a market for a podcast of you reading your work in your own voice? Have you done this kind of thing?

Stacey answers:

Like a paying market? No. Like an unpaying market? Uh, no. But if you send me a nice mix CD I'll call you up and read you a story, how about. Also, if you go up to the "Interview" link above you'll find some radio interviews of me you could listen to. I'll see if I can add a link to a more recent, utterly embarrassing interview I did for for Jason Bitner's book Cassette From My Ex, where I talk about being dumped by Rick Moody.

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