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I'm Psychic... with Clancy Martin

Clancy Martin is the author of the novel "How to Sell," and his love life is currently in disarray. The tarot sorted him out.

Amie Barrodale

Clancy Martin is the author of the novel How to Sell, which was chosen as a best book of the year by The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, and Publisher's Weekly. It is set in a jewelry store in Fort Worth. Martin himself used to be a jeweler, so he knows all the dirty tricks. Due to the book, I learned a ring I wear is not platinum, but white gold -- the information was right there stamped inside, but I didn't know how to look for it, and had been told all my life it was platinum. It's an heirloom. I am off topic. Martin is very good at writing about sex and drugs. Those are two topics it is pretty easy to mess up. He is also exceptionally good--really, this is very unusual--at writing about what I guess I will call the spiritual life, but those words are wrong. Those words sound kind of safe, and what I'm talking about isn't safe at all. It is lawless. I really can't even come close to getting a handle on it, but he does--so you ought to just go and have a look, if you didn't yet. Here's the tarot card reading.

VICE: Hi Clancy, it's Amie. I can do a general reading or a reading about your love life, or a reading about your work.
Clancy Martin: I think it would be more interesting to do a reading about my love life, because my love life is in real disarray at the moment. 

OK, do you want to tell me why? If you tell me why, then the cards are kind of logical, so the reading will make more sense.
Yeah, I'll tell you why my love life is in disarray. I am separated, but not yet divorced from my second wife. I am dating someone right now. I'm in a monogamous relationship, but I'm not sure how steady it is on its feet. 

Because of you or because of her? 
I think we're both feeling like maybe we've bitten off more than we can chew. 

I see.
We're long-distance, and there's a difference in our ages. She's very cool, but I think we're both feeling a little wobbly at the moment. 

You live in Kansas? 
I live in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Kansas City, Missouri. Why do you live there?
Well, when I got my Ph.D, I had offers from a few different schools: one in New York, one in Florida, one in Pennsylvania—no, that one was later. I was married, and Kansas City was the most affordable place to live, and it was just the most attractive overall job of the ones that I was offered. I took it thinking that I'd probably be here for a few years, but then it just turned out that I really like it here.

OK, I laid the cards out. Yeah, it's saying that you don't really want to be in a relationship right now. It says you would rather be doing work. 
I'm sure I should be doing work. Whether I'd rather be doing work is harder to say. I'm spectacularly lazy. 

Yeah, at the center of the reading is the Eight of Cups, which is the card of "abandoning the rat race," and crossing that is the card of like wanting to do a really good piece of art. 
Gotcha, yeah, well, that's definitely true. Your lips to God's ears. I'm working on a novel and another book called Love, Lies and Marriage, that is about four years overdue with my publisher. It's part memoir and part philosophical essay. It's about, well, love and lies and why I'm so bad at marriage.  

And it says the cause of all this is the Hierophant, which is the card of study and seeking deeper truth. Then it says the thing to let go of is the Ace of Cups, which is like all the pleasures of being in love, the really good part of it. It's just saying you're kind of over that, like you know both sides of it so you have to forget about it for now.
This is very depressing. I like this tarot reading thing. I've never had one done before.

Yeah. I love tarot cards, and again, it's repeating. It says that your goal is to--you want to do a really good piece of work. But let me just check that card really fast. Um. Oh! It says you also want to make money. 
That's also true. Always true. Sigh. Getting divorced a lot, in addition to being heartbreaking, is very expensive. And you know how it is being a professor and a writer. You're in it for the big bucks.

It says in the next couple of months, you should just kind of buckle down and work.
Just work, yeah, I think that's right. I think it's telling me that repeatedly because it knows I won't listen. 

Let's see. Pretty quick reading. This next one's a little tricky. Yeah, it says you kind of want to be inspired, but you might do better just to put your head down. What do you think of that? I always wish that were true, that a writer could just put his head down and get something done, but I think I generally do have to wait to be inspired. What about you?
For me it really is just like Maxwell Perkins, I think, said: sitzfleisch. Sit your ass down and do the work. Then the inspiration comes some days and others it doesn't. When I don't sit my ass down and work I'm almost never inspired.

This next card is a little weird. It's saying that your environment is going to be a little rough. 
I am not surprised.

And its advice to you is just to embrace that. 'Cause that's where you get your material from. 
Lord knows.

And it says, the King of Cups, that you're gonna be a man.
That would be a major improvement for me.

Previously - I'm Psychic... with Carol Kolb