Told right

By SHARON STEEL  |  April 7, 2008

Your book’s blurbs liken you to Dorothy Parker, David Sedaris, and Sarah Vowell. Did you read their work while you were writing I Was Told There’d Be Cake?
I actually specifically tried not to read any other essays while I was writing this. Because the thing is, with essays, the point is to take something that’s very specific and detailed to you and have it bloom out so it’s universal. The one thing I did do is — when I was struggling to figure out if the concept of funny disappointment was enough of a theme — I opened a copy of My Misspent Youth by Meghan Daum, who very kindly blurbed my book. I was literally sitting on my sofa, I was opening the book, and I thought, “Why does everything have to have a theme? Why does all the medicine have to go down in applesauce? Why does it have to be encased in one big thing? Maybe it doesn’t.” Then I open it up and she has this fantastic introduction to her book about how her essay collection had a non-theme theme. I closed it and looked up at the ceiling and went, “Fuck!”

I read that you wrote a novel a couple of years ago, but that you locked it up in the proverbial drawer. Any chance it’ll see the light of day?
I have changed the title to Dear Grandchildren: If You Publish This I Will Come Back and Haunt You for the Rest of Your Natural-Born Lives. It’s a long title, but I think it works! I am working on a new book. It’s fiction, and, I think, a little bit bigger. You can only look at your navel for so long before all the lint is cleared out.

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