A Seventy-Minute Interview with Sam Pink on Gchat
Sam Pink is the author, among other books, of two novels, Person (2010) and The No Hellos Diet (2011); a story-collection, Hurt Others (2010); and a collection of aphorism-like things, No One Can Do Anything Worse to You Than You Can (2012). I recommend all these books. Person's back-cover description: "You see him at the liquor store. You see him at the bus stop, trying to look at you without being seen. Who is he? He is a person." I remember reading Person without stopping but while moving around. I started on the train, I think, and kept reading while walking ten blocks from Union Square to Think Coffee, where I sat and finished the book before going to the library. If forced to describe Person in five words I would say "emotional, funny, interesting, stimulating, exciting." You can read an excerpt here. You can read stories from Hurt Others here and here. The following is a Gchat interview. It was edited by deleting ~40 percent of it.
Sam: Hey man.
Sam: I'm finna go invizz.
Sam: It has been done.
Sam: Can there be a 'bottom line' segment?
Me: Bottom line, yeah, that sounds good.
Me: When you want to do that just tell me.
Me: And I'll go right into it.
PART 1: AGE/LOCATION
Me: How old were you when you wrote Person?
Sam: I think 26 to 27.
Sam: Maybe a little 25.
Me: Has your mom read it?
Sam: I'm not sure.
Me: Do you have siblings?
Sam: Yes. Two brothers.
Me: Where are you right now?
Sam: I’m in a living room in Humboldt Park, sitting on the wooden floor with my legs crossed.
Me: You're in a park, or is 'Humboldt Park' like a café or something?
Sam: Humboldt Park is a neighborhood.
Sam: Bottom line: Humboldt Park: a neighborhood, not café.
BOTTOM LINE: "HUMBOLDT PARK: A NEIGHBORHOOD, NOT CAFE"
Me: I see what you mean by 'bottom line' now.
Sam: Bottom line: he gets it.
BOTTOM LINE: "HE GETS IT"
Me: When that happens, you just go ahead and type 'bottom line': etc. I'll format it later.
Sam: I hear it spoken in my head when I write it.
Me: Have you done that in some other interview, the 'bottom line' thing?
Sam: Not sure
Sam: It feels like I have.
Me: I think you did it in the video thing, the vlog, with Jordan and Noah and them, right?
Sam: Yeah Jordan likes the segments too.
PART 2: MDA
Sam: We took some MDA you sent Jordan.
Sam: I remember being like, "I'm really fucked up."
Sam: Then having intense hallucinations with my eyes closed.
Me: You looked like a normal functioning human.
Me: Like a mediocre guest on Oprah.
PART 3: HOSTESS FRUIT PIE (1/2)
Me: What sentence do you think of first when you read “what sentence is most memorable of what you've written to you”?
Sam: Just imagined myself forcing a ‘Hostess fruit pie’ into my forehead.
Me: While reading that I kept wanting it to say “into your mouth.”
Sam: Not sure. I read one while working on something the other day and I thought that.
Me: Can you try to remember it?
Me: Or any part of it?
Sam: I can't remember the exact sentence I thought that about, but I remember a lesser one about someone headbutting a cat and the sound it makes when the foreheads hit.
Sam: And the person saying "hyuhh" as they did it.
Me: Nice. So someone headbutts a cat in the cat's head?
Sam: Forehead to Forehead
Sam: BOTTOM LINE
Me: What's the context?
Me: What's the bottom line? "Forehead to Forehead"?
Sam: Yes, I think so.
BOTTOM LINE: "FOREHEAD TO FOREHEAD"
Sam: Not sure about the context.
Sam: I can't handle plot and context unless it's really simple.
Me: What does pushing ‘Hostess fruit pies' into your forehead remind you of?
Sam: I think it reminds me that I don't think effectively.
PART 4: A CONDEFERACY OF DUNCES
Me: What's the book you 'gave up on' quickest in recent memory.
Sam: I read one or two sentences from A Confederacy of Dunces and stopped.
Me: What thoughts occurred to you during those one or two sentences, if any, that you can remember?
Sam: Bottom line: good question.
BOTTOM LINE: "GOOD QUESTION"
Sam: I think I just thought no.
Sam: Like, Don't read anymore.
Sam: It didn't feel critical.
Me: Do you remember what was on the cover?
Sam: I remember liking the cover.
Me: Do you remember what was on it?
Sam: I think it was a painting of one of the characters.
Me: An obese man?
Me: What's another book you stopped reading recently?
PART 5: SIDDHARTHA
Sam: I stopped reading Siddhartha after one page.
Me: When was this?
Sam: But I think my brain is just, like, ruined.
Sam: It feels soggy and shitty.
Sam: That was recently.
Me: But in emails you seem alert and like your brain has things to say.
Me: So do you only write emails when, like, after you've had coffee or something?
Sam: Yeah, it's nice to talk to some people sometimes.
Sam: No, I don’t think so.
Sam: I just get excited about being able to say some things to people.
Sam: Because I don't talk to people in public a lot.
PART 6: CRACK
Me: Tell us about smoking crack. I think you did that with homeless people once, am I right?
Sam: Yeah, I've smoked crack, I think, four to six times maybe.
Sam: Maybe three to five.
Sam: It didn't seem enjoyable.
Me: Any of those times with, like, people your age?
Sam: Most of them were alone.
PART 7: MOLLY
Me: Didn't someone snort molly off your ass at AWP in 2012?
Sam: Yeah, I think three people did.
Sam: Someone broke a beer bottle in the shower while I was standing barefoot in it, ass out.
Sam: It was stressful.
Me: Then they just told you to stand still, so they could snort molly off it?
Me: Or did they tell you to go into the shower specifically for that?
Sam: Can't remember that.
Sam: I remember going into the bathroom.
Sam: And Gene Morgan texted his wife to ask if it was OK.
Me: Feel like it would be really difficult, unless you were lying stomach-down.
Sam: Yeah, that was a problem.
Sam: I kind of bent at the waist.
Sam: Put it on my "upper cheek."
Me: I can't picture it at all, unless it was a gigantic shower.
Me: Was your ass sweaty at all, do you think?
Sam: No, but I was just going to say, I never wear underwear, so I think I had fuzz in it.
Sam: Pretty sure about the fuzz.
Me: Fuzz, like cotton from the pants?
Sam: Yeah, like…
Sam: My ass is really round.
Sam: Like big and round.
Sam: So I feel like fuzz just loves getting in there!
Me: You think of it as getting ‘in’ your ass?
Sam: No, pardon me.
Sam: Just in the crevice between each half of the ass.
Me: They should've just anally given you some molly, since they were already doing that.
Me: Have you ever used drugs rectally?
PART 8: ANAL ECSTASY
Sam: Yeah, I tried to put a brown pill of ecstacy…
Sam: Up my ass.
Sam: But it just burned and I shit it out and didn't feel anything.
Me: I watched a YouTube conspiracy video that said Marilyn Monroe was given an enema of barbituates, which was what killed her.
Sam: That sounds horrible but also like, grand.
Sam: Sounds grand.
Me: What notable thoughts have you had the past 30 minutes?
PART 9: HOSTESS FRUIT PIE (2/2)
Sam: The Hostess fruit pie into the forehead keeps recurring in my head.
Me: Me too.
Me: It seems good.
Me: Any other notable thoughts?
Sam: No, thank you for your time.
Me: We're not done yet.
Sam: Bottom line: sorry.
BOTTOM LINE: "SORRY"
Me: I asked people on Facebook to ask questions.
Me: I'm going to paste those, you can answer if you want.
PART 10: QUESTIONS FROM FACEBOOK
Me: "If you were to commit suicide how would you do it? If you were to write a suicide note what would it say?" - Spencer Madsen
Sam: Try to behead myself somehow.
Sam: No note.
Me: "If a raging grizzly was charging towards you, what weapon would you use to defend yourself and why?" - Katherine Claire DeMoss
Sam: My hands and my anger.
Me: "What is the highest level of math you feel you have 'mastered' to any degree" - Andrew Colville
Sam: I don't know a lot of math.
Me: "Favorite dinosaur and why?" - Rigby Taht
Sam: If there's one that eats other dinosaur's shit, then that one.
Me: "What's your favorite food to eat at the Olive Garden and why?" - Johnny Vulpine
Sam: I've never been to the Olive Garden.
PART 11: RED LOBSTER
Me: Have you been to Red Lobster?
Sam: Yes, one time.
Sam: Maybe I was like six.
Me: What happened?
Sam: Don't remember.
Sam: Just remember feeling the normal amount of discomfort being out at a restaurant.
QUESTIONS FROM FACEBOOK (CONTINUED)
Me: "Everything about your style is so different—from the poetic verse type prose, to the whacky titles, to the often blunt, shocking, and sometimes simple, childish words used throughout. What exactly are you trying to accomplish, and what benefits have you found for your style over other more traditional styles and forms?" - Simon A. Smith
Sam: I honestly feel like I don't know what I'm doing when I do it.
INTERLUDE: INTERVIEW ASSESSMENT
Me: We're going to assess this interview now.
Sam: You go first.
Me: what were you thinking going into this interview?
Sam: I was thinking it will be nice.
Me: And it was!
Me: I look forward to reading it again.
Sam: I want someone to call me a ‘fag’ in the comments section.
Me: I'm 100% certain they will.
Sam: BRING IT ON!
Me: Was going to type 99.9% but it didn't feel accurate.
Sam: I just thought, "you silly fuckers, bring it."
Me: I think you can only comment if you have Facebook. Are you going to get Facebook to comment?
PART 12: HEROIN
Me: We should end this with something about heroin, for the commenters. Who'd you snort heroin with?
Sam: By myself a few times, with a friend who later died from it a few more times.
Sam: I really like it.
Me: What did you do after the few times you did it alone?
Sam: I played drums the first time.
Sam: Sometimes would just go for a walk.
Sam: And went to parties a few times.
Sam: And would just sit outside on the lawn I think.
Sam: All in good fun.
Me: That's a good ending; we'll end now.
Me: Good job.
Sam: OK, thank you.
Me: I’ll email you to keep you updated.
Sam: Thank you.
Me: Have a nice day.
Sam: You too.
Me: Thank you.