This kind of thing makes us understand and befriend certain people we would not normally understand, I think. And it also makes us avoid certain types and categories the world would think we would fit neatly in. For instance, I’m a Bible-believing Christian so you probably already understand my opinion about your line of work. Yet, as someone who has found the world a very harsh place, I have to admit that I know many transgendered friends who also do your kind of work. Friendships, then, is often about the heart and often about belongingness and being at war with the larger culture.
I know – Bible-believing Christians love writers, I mean hookers! Transgendered hookers of the world unite, unite and take over — can we welcome you into our midst? And yes, yes — I do think friendship is often so much about finding and creating belonging and a safe place to challenge the larger culture.
While we’re at it, please explain your work as a sex worker. In the book there was the implication that the internet had changed sexual liaisons somewhat… made them about the immediacy of lust and longing and more of a comparative mode kind of thing. Explain why you chose that kind of job? Talent, skill, and love of the job?
Well, let's see, of course the book is a novel, although I will say that the narrator and I do share a few things in common, one of which is turning tricks. I originally became a whore because I wanted to make a living as far outside of the 60-hour workaday world as possible — I wanted to be able to support myself and still do the things that were important to me, writing and activism and friendships and building myself as an anti-assimilationist kind of gal, right? Now, what I'm saying about the internet in the book is more about recreational sex and less about sex-for-pay — and I think the internet has changed cruising in the immediacy of that type of sex, away from the intensity and the sudden intimacy of the moment and more around shopping shopping shopping — shopping is fine if you're looking for the right fit of pants, but it's a little more intrusive when it's the right kind of body or sex act.
Ah gee! I’m trying to think of how to respond to that. I’ll definitely say that you give a bold, honest answer. But moving on…I think I’m getting old or maybe I’m just cynical or maybe it’s the Christian in me but I kept thinking, “Dang! Here’s a true revolutionary, fighting the noble battle for mental and cultural peace on earth!” Some passages in the book, especially when you whine about assimilation feels like you’re all passionate revolutionary trying to create a noble society on earth. Do I sound too cynical?
I. don't think you sound cynical at all!
I think that’s why I felt your book had soul. It actually touches a universal need. Maybe we borderland walkers are more aware of a certain cultural and spiritual homelessness but I felt it as I read. I often wonder if many people are able to deal with “soul” when they see it in a work of art. Either it terrifies them or bores them or angers them. Or maybe they can’t really recognize it. Agree or disagree? And if you agree, why? Is it cultural? Is it a flight from pain? Is it something having to do with our concept of art and what art is meant to do?
With So Many Ways to Sleep Badly I wanted to abandon conventional plot structure that says our lives are neatly packed between beginning, middle, and end, that everything can and must be resolved, and so the structure relies more on voice and sound and texture and the repetition of form and space and reason and I think that's what you mean about soul. You have to enter this work on the narrator's terms, not your own, and some people are willing to do that.