CJ Hauser on Wanting To Learn Everything From Katherine Hepburn
In Conversation with Maris Kreizman on The Maris Review Podcast
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On the beauty of the second person:
I have a beloved teacher, the writer Mark Weingardner, who said to me in a joking way, “second person is just the interior monologue of a fuck-up” and I was like, “that’s me!” The closer it is to home, the more painful it is, the more likely I am to be a weenie and sneak into the second person…
The Boy, as I call him in the book, was the first great love of my life and a foundational one. I hope that the arc of the three act play that I put on [in the book] about our love story is one that shows that it’s about me. I don’t mean that in an “it’s about me!” way. The things that went wrong or the things that were hard about it had nothing to do with what my partner did or didn’t do. It had to do with the way I turned that into a story that really affected me, and the way I had to find a way to wiggle out of it and make it mean something else to me. To choose to be the person in charge of doing that.
On how art inspires us to want the answer to everything:
When I was little, like a baby teen, I was like Katherine Hepburn, teach me what love is. Teach me what man to choose. Of course Katherine Hepburn could have taught me that I was bisexual, but instead she just taught me that I loved her a lot and I didn’t know what that meant. And probably Jimmy Stewart was the answer. Oh no, it’s Cary Grant. Oh no, wait, it’s I don’t know.
I think when art is moving or inspiring, there’s some lizard part of my brain that wants it to be the panacea answer to everything. Like, this is it, I’ve figured it out. Thank you, The Philadelphia Story! And of course the sand always goes from beneath your feet and you have to figure it out on your own or see it in another way.
On the rabbit holes her obsessions take her:
I just get obsessed with things. I was writing a story a million years ago about a drone pilot. So I started doing all this research. I was really fascinated and disturbed by the drone program. Eventually I wrote and published that story, but I was still researching, which I guess at that point no longer counted as for that story. I went down the rabbit hole getting obsessed with the field of AI.
In 2013, I went to this robotics trial that the Defense Department was running, to create a robotic first responder. And Fukushima had just happened. So I think the thinking was like, sometimes a person cannot go in and save the day so what if we used robotics to do this. And I think part of that was, wouldn’t that be great too? And part of it was the Defense Department being like, “Remember when robots were sometimes okay and not drones who killed civilians?”
CJ Hauser teaches creative writing at Colgate University. She is the author of two novels, Family of Origin and The From-Aways. In 2019 she published “The Crane Wife” in The Paris Review, which reached more than a million readers all over the world. This is her first work of nonfiction.