JENNIFER ROBIN is the author of Death Confetti (Feral House, 2016) and Earthquakes in Candyland (Fungasm, 2019) and the chapbook Even Snowflakes Heal and You Can Download Skin (Ladybox, 2016). Robin’s July 2022 release on Far West, You Only Bend Once with a Spoonful of Mercury, is a collection of dreams written for a live audience on social media. Her book of vignettes about American barbarism, selling boots to foot fetishists, and the joyless chewing of Thanksgiving turkey, DESTROY NOTHING (the most important thing) will be released by Future Tense in 2023.
My current favorite things to read are: …I’m rereading Money by Martin Amis. Clarice Lispector’s Complete Stories, Kurt Eisenlohr’s Stab the Remote. Woman at 1,000 Degrees by Hallgrímur Helgason, Andreyev’s The Red Laugh. The Red Laugh is a story of war that rivals Kosinski’s Painted Bird in its descriptive power. Really, look up Andreyev. He was conspicuously modern—the first 19th-century writer to brand himself with selfies—multiple photoshoots in wild costumes to create the image of a brooding, bad-boy Russian philosopher-poet.
My current favorite thing to watch is: The Try Channel. Irish people consuming bizarre and trending foods from all over the planet, including a man named “Leather Jacket Guy” who will down a 190-proof vodka and say stuff like, “that’s the drink you have when you hate yourself and you wanna feel something.” I like to watch them when I’ve cooked a meal, and I sit on the floor and prop my food on a tray on my bed and there they roll: “If an existential crisis was a cereal, this would be it.”
My current favorite things to listen to are: Terry Riley. Indian Raga. Amon Düül. My holy trinity. I’m making it a holy foursome by adding Zoviet France, which is perfect for drowning out loud neighbors, like the Spankers, and Sophia the shoe designer with her sketchy Airbnb, and the being of unreal beauty whom I’ve dubbed Country Western Supermodel.
My current state of mind is: …I think about escaping America. I think about helicopters circling overhead. I think about animals dying unique deaths. I think about men with big eyelids. I wonder why I am focused on publishing as many books as humanly possible when there may not even be a human race in twenty years, or water, or bees, and this makes me want to publish them even more. I think about how we have the power of numbers to overthrow everyone who keeps money in the Caymans, but we crawl in circles instead and wonder if our profile photos betray everything.
My current chemical romance involves: stiff black tea. Provocatively expensive cheese. When I was regularly writing on Facebook, readers knew that the way to my heart was cheese. People consistently sent me cheese-related articles: New Study discovers that cheese lowers cholesterol, increases mouse libido, makes you immortal. But Indian takeout and arugula are a close second.
My current words of wisdom are: …I have advice for writers, but it can be applied to nearly any act: Do the forbidden. Surprise yourself. The best art, like the best food, comes from play. Steer clear of the vampires. Every compromise will haunt you; some will wreck you for years. Your readers don’t remember the assholes who heckled you or tried to make your vision “safe.” They remember your work, so fight for it as if it is your flesh. It is.
My current mode of transportation involves: my feet in combat boots. I’ve never had a car. I often take buses. When I was 21, I had a psychedelic case of chicken pox. Fevers for a month. I lost the ability to read. The only thing I could do was watch Star Trek on a tiny black and white TV my grandmother won in a church raffle. Over the summer I recovered, building up to ten-hour walks. When the pandemic came, I was walking like this again—taking pictures of graffiti in the morning fog, feeling the high of dancing on an empty freeway.
My current favorite fast food item is: …I Cheeto it. “Natural” white cheddar. In my mundanity I have no shame.
My current workout routine consists of: lifting five-pound weights while doing what my mother would call “Rockette kicks.” At the beginning of lockdown I felt a sudden urge to work out while watching travel shows. I was simultaneously dissolving the fingerprints of my species with ethyl alcohol while watching the sun rise over Stonehenge. What was I looking for? A version of humanity I could believe in?
My current regrettable decision involves: popping a pimple on my chin. But to go back further in history, the majority of my regrettable decisions involve men or publishing.
My current hopes and dreams are: … I hope that I can rapidly make 750 dollars to fly to a reading in New York. I’m not a poker professional or an exotic dancer, so I need to figure something else out. I want to watch storks land on a lake in Hokkaido, get EU citizenship. Maybe I could live in a cave in Greece, one of those villages where old women who look like Gertrude Stein speak in an obscure whistling language which has been around since Greece was invaded by the Ottoman Empire. I can be a proper oracle. Live on rainwater, asparagus, and mint.
My current hobbies/projects include: talking myself into getting an agent. Shopping around a novel about a cult and a “death-eater.” Making kale quiche—I mean a lot of kale quiche. Telling myself I’m going to paint a wall purple for three years and not doing it, because I think I may have to pack a suitcase and leave this dystopia on the 11:30 plane. Okay, but seriously, my new big hobby is saying NO—I’m no longer trying to cohere to any publisher’s or audience member’s idea of what art is, or human is. Life is too short to be LITE-anything.
Jennifer Robin is online at instagram.com/earthquakesincandyland.
Brian Alan Ellis runs House of Vlad Press, and is the author of several books, including Sad Laughter (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2018) and Hobbies You Enjoy (serialized daily on Instagram: @hobbiesyouenjoy). His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Fanzine, Monkeybicycle, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, X-R-A-Y, Heavy Feather Review, and Yes Poetry, among other places. He lives in Florida.