Welcome to my new micro-interview series, which focuses on recent releases I’ve found noteworthy. Past entries are archived here.
In this series I’m asking writers to respond to the two questions I most frequently ask when I’m teaching a book in the classroom: (1) what is the text doing / how is the text doing it, and (2) with what does the text connect?
These questions arise from my particular approach to reading and critical analysis, which is deeply indebted to Deleuze & Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus. As they put it, “Literature is an assemblage…a book itself is a little machine…writing has nothing to do with signifying…it has to do with surveying, mapping, even realms that are yet to come.”
So, without further delay…
I present Timothy Willis Sanders, whose recent book Matt Meets Vik has been described thusly:
“I have no idea how Timothy Willis Sanders is able to accumulate so many small reflections into such a mesmerizing mass. Matt Meets Vik makes maybe the most stripped-down paragraphs I’ve ever seen somehow hold a hundred thousand colors, emotions, tones, like if there were a website that made you forget all other websites ever existed, or that you’re even still online. Hilarious, moving, insane, real.”
—Blake Butler, author of 300,000,000
“As I was reading Matt Meets Vik (and long after I’d finished), I couldn’t get the voice of ‘Matt’ out of my head, like it gave my inner monologue extra-charming-sounding subwoofers. Everything I did felt funnier and more important. There are only a few books that get in my head the way Matt Meets Vik has. This is one of my favorite books. I didn’t want it to end. I can see myself reading this many times.”
—Megan Boyle, author of selected unpublished blog posts of a mexican panda express employee
“Timothy Willis Sanders has replaced the need for food, water, and sleep with his literary genius. Matt Meets Vik > True love, world peace.”
—Mira Gonzalez, author of I will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together
What does your book do and how does your book do it?
I’d feel pretty good if a a blogger wrote the following about Matt Meets Vik:
“The book employs a spare, rhythmic style that when paired with the absence of exposition, allows the reader to engage the text on their own terms. The style opens the reader up to questions: Why do some have mental lives so different from the lives they live? What drives us to maintain a bond with an unhealthy person? When our insecurities are explained in literal terms, they become comically absurd, so why do we take them so seriously?”
I’d feel good for about 20 minutes after reading that on someone’s blogspot.
Having identified your book’s comportment, could you bring it into focus by describing its relationship to other texts? (By “texts” I mean any relatable objects.) Put another way: if we think about a book as a star in a constellation, or a node in a circuit, I’m interested in hearing about the constellation or circuit in which readers might find your book. Put yet another way: if we think about your book as contributing to particular conversations, could you describe those conversations and their other participants?
Ideally, I’d like my book to be the subject of conversation between two people, probably in their early-to-mid thirties, in bed. They would talk about the early 2000s—old cell phones, John Kerry, MySpace, 9/11. They would talk about private anxieties until they both feel awkward and vulnerable. Then one of them would turn off the light. One would fall asleep but the other would start thinking.
Timothy Willis Sanders is the author of Orange Juice and Other Stories. His work has appeared in Muumuu House, Hobart and VICE. His new novel Matt Meets Vik is available now. He lives in Austin, Texas.