I’m not saying I moved to Chicago to keep an eye on Kyle Beachy, but I’m not saying I didn’t. As far as you know, it’s just a coincidence, us attending the same masters program, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, if you wondered. Now Kyle’s an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Roosevelt University, and I hang out at that Walgreen’s two blocks from campus. Not hoping for a chance to run into him of course, but because they have the best ace bandages and dental floss in town.
When Kyle’s first novel, The Slide came out in 2009, I definitely didn’t stuff The Chicago Reader’s ballet box, and yet he was voted Reader’s choice! Personally, I found the book edgy and vital, and that’s saying a lot because it involved baseball, the very mention of which gives me a rash. I much prefer skateboarding, the topic of his next novel. My lawyer says I should call that another coincidence, but that’s pretty far-fetched. Really, we’re psychically linked.
Anyway, once I’d ‘borrowed’ Kyle’s skateboard and offered to interview him before I returned it, Kyle proved an amiable interviewee; he only called the police twice!
You know what that makes him: October’s Chicago Crush!
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri.
Profession: Professor of literature and creative writing at Roosevelt University.
Hobbies: I skateboard as much as the knees will allow.
Our Town The reception for your first novel was pretty fantastic. What was your reaction to post publication events as they unfolded?
Kyle Beachy That's nice of you to say. I should admit, though, that I was pretty much unprepared for any of that stuff, so that even the tiny filaments of attention I got -- which, relatively speaking, were nothing -- forced me to confront dark corners of my ego that I didn't realize I had. There was joy of course, I was grateful to have anyone read the thing, but it was also a kind of ugly, or at least petty, time for me. Because once you start noticing that stuff you begin caring, and caring charges the whole affair with importance, it all feels huge and consequential when in fact it's not -- neither the good receptions nor the bad. It frankly messed with my head and I began to understand claims from experienced authors about ignoring their reviews, whereas before I thought they were posturing. So overall it was an important thing to experience. Made me grow up a bit.
OT Who are your influences?
KB American novelists since roughly1960, friends and assorted acquaintances whose productivity I envy and so try to emulate, a rapper named Serengeti, Spike Jonze, Mike Manzoori, my father, and I'm on a reading binge of non-American authors: Horracio Castellanos Moya, Andreas Maier, Johan Harsted. I'm also reading more poetry, suddenly.
OT If google searches are any indication; people believe there’s a static step-by-step method for novel writing. Thoughts?
KB If google searches are any indication of anything, we're in trouble.
OT You’ve got an essay in the first issue of The Chicagoan. How did you get involved?
KB I met J.C. Gabel when Stop Smiling was winding down, and because knowing J.C. means becoming friends with J.C., he came to visit a DeLillo class I was teaching, we began talking about books, and a relationship developed. So, when he asked for an essay that basically gave me free range to mess about and try some things it was a no brainer. I'm not sure what the publication will look like -- I hear it is large and beautiful, and I think meant to be seen as a kind of experiment. I'm excited to see.
OT Both your Chicagoan essay and your second novel are about skateboarding. What’s the draw for you?
KB The ultra-truncated answer is that there is no possible way to fake skateboarding. There is no cheating. To do it you have to try and fail and bleed and try again.
OT You’re part of Roosevelt’s new MFA program, can you talk a little about that?
KB It's exciting. Free from the baggage of tradition and deeply nested personalities that can conflict and lead to paralysis or stagnation, it's developing into a hugely energetic place to work. Students focus on one primary field, poetry or fiction or creative non-fiction, but are also forced to push against these divisions and attempt new things. And though it's not explicit, you're always tacitly aware of the Roosevelt mission statement about social justice and affecting some nature of positive change on the world. I'm very happy to be there.
OT As a writer, what’s your favorite pick up line?
KB Let's keep this simple.
OT Describe your perfect day.
KB Wake Sunday morning and brew coffee and write for a couple hours so it doesn't loom for the rest of the day, walk the dog and say hello to neighbors, meet up with some buddies and go skate, take some photos and eat some tacos, come home and read on the terrace as the sun sets, drink some beer, contact someone I haven't seen in awhile and remind them that I love you. Grill meat and vegetables. Walk the dog. Read someone like W.G. Sebald who will put me to sleep.
OT Relationship Deal breaker?
KB Taking pictures of your food.
OT Who was your first crush?
KB Oh god. Winnie Cooper. I lost sleep, and when I did sleep I dreamed of her mouth, often disembodied. I grew my hair long and cursed it for not being as straight and luscious as hers. In other words I became a man.
OT Why are you crushworthy?
KB I would hope the anxieties and frustrations listed above speak for themselves.
OT Any questions for me?
KB Given your rules of confidentiality, and how all of this is technically off the record, what are you going to do with these answers?
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," is forthcoming from Soft Skull, an imprint of Counterpoint Press. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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