Photo by Patty Michels
The other night a friend and I went out for drinks (by which I mean he ordered something sophisticated sounding and I panicked because menus overwhelm me).
Waiting to be seated he said, “I’ve decided to make you my role model for publishing a first novel. What are you doing?!”
“This? This is my compliment crouch.”
From under one of the patio tables, a terrier released a low growl.
“You’re making that couple uncomfortable,” my friend pointed out.
“What do you mean I’m your role model?” I asked after we’d ordered.
“You’re acting just how I want to when it happens for me. Except for that crouching thing. And the way you made the server bring you three kinds of dressing when you didn’t order a salad. But other than that, you’re my debut author ideal.”
“But I wake each day from nightmares in which I’m late for my Book Cellar appearance because I’ve forgotten which ones are my feet. I’m afraid when it comes time to sign books the only thing I’ll remember how to spell will be ‘John Mayer.’ I keep forgetting to memorize my agency’s name and I can’t stop picturing Jodi Picoult coming up behind me in line at Starbucks and tapping me on the shoulder. When I turn, she punches me in the glasses.”
“That’s just it.” My friend sipped his beer. I dipped my pinkie in my ranch dressing.
“You’re not entitled or self-promotional. You seem ambivalent about the whole thing.”
“Ambivalence is a perfect cloaking device,” I told him. “It makes you seem less self-promotional than you are. For example, when my publicist asked for my contacts at major Chicago news outlets I realized that the only person I knew at The Sun Times is me.”
“I thought she wanted major news outlets.”
“The Sun Times hasn’t declared bankruptcy in months. I think we just bought The Reader...or maybe just someone who was reading, like on Foster Beach or something and we just came up and bought them cause that’s how powerful we are. I hope they were reading something by Jodi Picoult.”
“My publicist suggested I feature myself in my Hot Writer Blog.”
“Each time you say publicist, you become less ideal.”
“Why are you describing her as if you’re introducing her at an awards ceremony?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Heeeeeere’s Samantha!”
Samantha Irby: “I’m a pretty good goddamned judge of what’s hot and what ain’t. And I know that might at first seem confusing considering the number of elastic-waisted pants in my possession, but trust me on this one: I'm an expert in hot sh*t. Being a hot writer is probably one of the easiest “hot” things one could be, as no one blanches at your pallid complexion, bathed in the glow of a computer screen for hours on end or your gnarled carpal tunnel fingers. Forgiven is that incessant muttering of new ideas and constant need to “let me write that one thing you said down.” It also helps that most people are just willing to take our word for it, because watching television and being dumb is way easier than reading a book or skimming an article.
Sarah Terez Rosenblum is the hottest kind of writer, one who does it professionally and actually gets paid to do so. Her new book, Herself When She’s Missing, knocked my socks clean off, and I pretty much hate everything. That book is a good time. Sarah is tremendously talented, so smart, so funny, and she has a body hot enough to pose naked as a figure model in front of classrooms full of snooty art kids. And if that isn’t hot, I have no goddamned idea what is.”
June's Hot Writer: Sarah Terez Rosenblum
My genre: literary fiction: My debut novel Herself When She’s Missing (Soft Skull Press) may have come out yesterday, or possibly the day before. Every book seller lists a different pub date. Pass the Xanax.
My favorite literary quote: Either “There’s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” (Hamlet) which I find both astute and soothing, or “Never run from anything immortal, it attracts their attention.” (The Last Unicorn) which makes its own kind of sense. Note: Back in high school, these were top contenders for my senior quote. I’m nothing if not consistent which sounds great until you realize I’ve eaten the same lunch every day for going on five years.
My favorite book of all time: Lord of the Rings evokes memories—my mother read it to me annually when I was growing up. Plus I think it hugely expanded the scope of my imagination. But I’m actually not a big fantasy novel person, so maybe I’ll go with The Road; I am definitely an apocalypse person. Then again “favorite book of all time” implies something read repeatedly, so perhaps James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks.
I’m currently reading: James Joyce’s A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man also the March issue of The New Yorker; keeping up with that mother is a full time job.
My guilty pleasure book: The Time Traveler’s Wife. I’m cognizant of its many imperfections, but I think the concept is unique and difficult to execute. Also, House of Leaves: crazy-ass post-modern weirdness, but the central idea kept me awake for about a year. Oh, and The Nanny Diaries. Whatever. I’ve read it ten times.
I can’t write without: I’ve written by texting myself while on a run and I once squandered an expensive massage mentally writing a short story, so probably there’s nothing I can’t write without. I’ll just say I am happiest writing on a laptop while drinking coffee. I also have a border collie-like need for exercise, so throw that in there somewhere too.
Worst line I ever wrote: "Sipping pureed squash soup, brazenly orange against the off-white walls of the candlelit bistro..." to which my friend and trusted reader Carol Anshaw responded “I don’t like to think of soup having an emotional life.”
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," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. 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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Come check out my release party at Tony Fitzpatrick's Firecat Gallery Tuesday June 12 at 7 p.m.