There is a moment in her new book The Pahrump Report, when Lisa Carver responds to a question about her occupation by answering: “I am a writer.” Yet in that moment, the word “writer” struck me as a lacking descriptor for all that Carver does in creating a written work of art.
The book chronicles a dizzying three-year period of Carver’s life, as she moves across the country with her husband, builds a home, gets divorced, rents an apartment, falls in love, gets betrayed, tries doing stand-up comedy, visits a brothel and has several other Pahrumpian adventures. It’s a piece that most exemplifies Carver’s skill for not just making a living from writing, but more importantly, making her writing from living.
I first met Lisa Carver in 2013 when she came through town to do a reading. Perhaps no single event had more of an influence on me as an artist than seeing her indescribably wild performance art “band” Suckdog in the late 1990’s, so I asked her to meet me at a bar for a drink before her reading. She agreed, even though she made it clear that she didn’t drink. Carver arrived at the bar, and despite her claims of being dry, she immediately ordered a round of drinks. By the end of the day (yes, day. It was only about 3pm) she put $65 worth of fireball whiskey shots on my tab. This was an important lesson in reading Lisa Carver: Nothing is what it seems, so just take a deep breath and dive into life’s experiences that words are merely subjugated to decorate and communicate to the best of their rascally ability.