Oscar Wilde Was Gay, and Other Revelations
A Q&A with Sam Lipsyte
Name a childhood hero.
Name a work you wish you’d written.
The Man Without Qualities, Volume 1.
If you had to order your work by how successfully you tend to complete what you set out to accomplish, what would that list look like?
I don’t know what this means.
Name a writer in history of whom you would like to have been a contemporary of and why.
Benvenuto Cellini. The sheer excitement.
Name a work of yours whose reception you’ve been surprised about and why.
I’m always surprised, whether they like it or hate it.
Correct a misperception about you as a writer in 50 words or fewer.
I’m not that. Did it in three words.
Name a trait you deplore in other writers.
Unwarranted arrogance. Warranted is fine.
Name your five desert island films.
The Tempest, Swept Away, Lord of the Flies, Robinson Crusoe, Cast Away.
Name a book not your own that you wish everyone would read.
Long, Last, Happy by Barry Hannah.
Name a book you suspect most people claim to have read, but haven’t.
If you could choose one of your works to rewrite, which would it be and why.
I’d rewrite them all. Everything is infinitely revisable.
Share the greatest literary secret/gossip you know.
Oscar Wilde was gay.
Name a book you read over and over for inspiration.
Maybe not entire books, but I’ll dip into various writers from time to time, just to listen to their songs—Katherine Mansfield, Stanley Elkin, Shakespeare, Christine Schutt, Samuel Beckett, Ben Marcus, Thomas McGuane, and many others.
Name the writing habit you rely on to get you through a first draft.
I’m your basic punishment and reward type.
Name a regret, literary or otherwise.
Name your greatest struggle as a writer.
Those transitions from unwarranted arrogance to total self-loathing.
Name a question you get about writing to which there really is no good answer.
“What are my prospects?”
Name a question you wish you had been asked.
“How much can we pay you to do this questionnaire?”