So Lily Hoang came to read this past Thursday night. And I got to introduce her, interview her and hang out with her a bit.
I had an understanding of Lily from all the internet stalking I had done of her, but wasn’t prepared for the Lily Hoang that IS Lily Hoang. She’s articulate and friendly and can project her voice. She is one of the least nervous sounding writers I’ve ever heard read their work, though she claimed to be nervous on the inside. She seemed perfectly comfortable talking about writing or poop or pig zesting. She’s very easy going and her students are lucky to have her.
She sat across from me at dinner and smiled at me even when I said awkward things and interrupted the flow of conversation, which I so often do. She talked about her interest in geography, specifically geography of imaginary place. She said it was the hip thing right now, but being incredibly unhip, I had never heard of it. I feel like Martone could teach a forms class on imaginary place and I would love to take it. (In fact I am facebook chatting with him now and he recommends I read A Pattern Language and says he will consider the class but it would be a few semesters away).
At the reading Lily read sans-microphone from Changing and Evolutionary Revolution and from her new novel based on a true story which is about a 250 lb woman that rolls who smothers her children with her body over a period of some years. She read well and expressively, commanding the attention of even my non-reading boyfriend. I was not even a little distracted by the 17 roaches that were crawling all over the food on the counter beside me. I wanted to trap her and prevent her from leaving Tuscaloosa until she committed to sending me the entire book to read.
The next day during the interview I asked rambling questions and sort of made sad faces at her because I felt bad for having such poorly written questions, but she answered them all, kindly and fully. The interview will probably be up on the BWR website in some weeks. Most of me being awkward will be edited out. But please, imagine me screaming at the recorder, No you will erase that part, several times.
After the interview she suggested we go get coffee until the scheduled group lunch. My whole being sort of froze with happiness that Lily Hoang wanted to have coffee with me. I ran a red light on the way to the coffee shop and we did not die. Lily didn’t look terribly afraid, but a little uncomfortable as one should look after the running of a red light. She gave me some formatting advice on a thing I’m working on and told me she’d read my writing anytime.
We sat at the German bakery/coffee shop and talked about television shows, other writers, the classes she was teaching and had taught, books, etc. She was incredibly kind and patient as I sat excitedly nodding at all she had to say. I worried that my lack of speaking and intense smiling was awkward, but did not know how to correct it.
I missed the final dinner before Lily left town (okay I got really drunk and knew better than to go in that condition) but spent my entire evening making my friends listen to me recount basically everything I could remember that Lily said to me.
After Alissa Nutting, Lily will guest edit an issue of the Fairy Tale Review.
Lily has a choose your own adventure book about an old cat lady who is not old, but in fact young and attractive.
Lily’s husband studies utopias. It is utopias, not Utopia.
Lily likes breaking bad and project run way.
Lily is allergic to alcohol.
Lily taught women studies classes. In one class they altered Barbie dolls and one student drilled a hole in the Barbie to show where the soul wasn’t, because modern Barbie (aka Lily) doesn’t believe in god.
I did not tell Lily that I wanted to crush her and keep her in a tiny box so that she could tell me stories all the time. Nor did I say any other number of creepy things I could have. I hope I did a good job not being creepy. It is hard sometimes.
But after her visit I certainly feel more motivated to be productive/hardworking/etc.