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Friday, March 23, 2007

“I’ve Always Thought a Lot About Death”: An Interview with Deborah Eisenberg

posted by on March 23 at 14:30 PM


The transcript of my interview with short-story writer Deborah Eisenberg promised in this week’s Nightstand is finally online.

Discussed: Why she had never been to Seattle before, why she isn’t published in the New Yorker anymore, having a heart made of synthetic plastic, death anxiety, the anxiety of teaching, novels versus short stories, David Lynch’s Inland Empire, how great it is that Joan Didion is still alive, the culture of brainwashing, and the addictive properties of computer solitaire.

She’s a fantastic writer and a fantastic interview subject. Enjoy.

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Fantastic, yes. I really don't know how to connect such a stylish woman who answers questions perky ways -- "Inland Empire... I adore?" hmmm must have been the cute rabbits - good film but not something to be adored? -- connect her to death anxiety. She looks like she might live rather comfortably to a ripe old age. Is it the post-modern juxtoposition I'm missing? Neurosis as a healthy therapy? No thanks.

Posted by daniel | March 23, 2007 3:08 PM

I'm not sure what you're asking. You're baffled that a woman who's "stylish" (sure) and "perky" (uhh) could have anxiety about death?

Posted by christopher frizzelle | March 23, 2007 4:38 PM

Well, take something like the Titanic sinking as being your personal grim reaper. I don't think it's ridiculous to be freaking out a bit, okay, let's say like Dicaprio, if we could muster such bravado. There is fear, anxiety - death is upon you.
The interview just struck me as a bit bourgeois in relation to the unnerving subject. It's like I can picture Ms. Eisenberg on deck sipping a martini, enjoying the string quartet, and dashing on and off about the cultural malaise. Or can I? No, I think there's more panic involved with 'death anxiety', Inland Empire, etc. I guess as an example, look at the Lacanian philosopher Zizek. He embodies such notions with his whole life when he speaks, lives, writes. It isn't a parlor game. Anyway, my palms are sweating.

Posted by daniel | March 23, 2007 5:09 PM

Must you look like death to worry about it? This was a wonderful interview, thanks Chris. Please let us know if she gets back to you in a year about that nagging "apotheosis of the characters" business, though I rather enjoy hearing from an artist who is mid-process on an idea or feeling and doesn't have to blister you with their brilliance at figuring it out.

Posted by Courtney | March 23, 2007 5:51 PM

"I just saw Inland Empire, which I adored. But, obviously, it bears many seeings."

I assume 'many' means more than a couple, a few, even more than four times. When Deborah dahling sees the film 5 times, I'll be interested in her adoring words.

"Must you look like death to worry about it?"
If you want to dress it up for our coffee tables, yes.

Posted by daniel | March 24, 2007 11:09 AM

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