March's Hot Writer: Naomi Huffman
My genre: Is e-mail a genre? These days, I spend more time in my inbox than in my notebook. But when I do have time for my own work, I'm usually agonizing over a personal essay about my life, which is to say, being young and exceptionally broke, and trying not to talk about my cats all the time (They're so funny! They yawn and drink water and run and stuff!). I'm also working on a collection of short stories.
My literary influences: Joan Didion. Joan Didion. Joan Didion. And also: Zadie Smith, Amy Hempel, Peter Orner, Lorrie Moore, Rebecca West, Ethan Canin, Cheryl Strayed, John Steinbeck.
My favorite literary quote: "That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it."
— Joan Didion
My favorite book of all time: TOTALLY UNFAIR QUESTION. For now, I'll choose "Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinson. That book possesses such a quiet power -- it's both beautiful and savage. I remember reading excerpts aloud to my ex-boyfriend, to my boss, to friends over dinner. Lorrie Moore's "Birds of America" is another book that I shared like that. I was so consumed by it that I stuffed that book in a teeny tiny leather bag and took it with me to a bachelorette party, just in case there was an available moment to step away from the penis straws and lingerie and read a paragraph or two. (Attention, brides-to-be: invite me to your bachelorette parties. I'll bring all the fun.)
I’m currently reading: I always seem to be in the middle of several books at a time -- my jobs require that I'm reading constantly, which feels very lucky. I'm very close to completing Bill Hillman's "The Old Neighborhood," which we're publishing at Curbside Splendor in April. I'm also almost through with David Stuart MacLean's "The Answer to the Riddle Is Me," which is terrifying and hilarious and such a joy to read. I've just begun "Esther Stories" by Peter Orner, who is seriously a goddamn master, and just this morning I picked up Emily Gould's forthcoming "Friendship," which I've been excited about for months.
My guilty pleasure book: The Harry Potter series. I wasn't allowed to read them when I was growing up -- my parents had very strict rules about what I could read and didn't like that the books were about "witchcraft." So of course I borrowed them all from my friend Jamie, who stood in line for each book as it was released, devoured it, and lent it to me to read, which I had to do beneath my blankets with a flashlight (in case Jesus was watching). I even hid the books behind all my other parent-approved books on my shelf, which is probably the most genius idea I've ever had. All the hiding and staying up late and spending my allowance on AA batteries was worth it.
I can’t write without: A beverage, typically coffee or tea. When my mind feels really closed up, I'll have a glass of wine.
Worst line I ever wrote: "We didn't let go until our cigarettes burned out, the last ribbons of smoke curling over our heads like sadness." Clearly, eighteen-year-old me needed a lesson on similes.
Brief Bio: Naomi Huffman writes and edits and writes and edits. Sometimes she sleeps, designs, binds books, and bakes pies. She's the Managing Editor at Curbside Splendor and the Assistant Literary Editor at Newcity, where her reviews and essays appear regularly. She's also an editor at Bookslut and a co-host of Reading Under the Influence. She blogs infrequently at naomihuffman.com.