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Powell's Q&A

Tom Lutz

Describe your latest project.
I am always at work on at least two, and now I find myself scribbling in several files, any of which might turn into a book, the prime candidates at the moment are:

Driven, which is in part the flip side of Doing Nothing, is a study of the way automobile culture manages to transform our basic relation to the world, infiltrating our notions of psychology and social life and even such notions as spiritual transport and, as the title suggests, getting ahead. It will include sections on Southeast Asia, the countries along the old Silk Road, and Africa — places where automotive culture is just taking off — as well as examinations of older automotive cultures in the West.

The Experimental Novel is a kind of post-postmodern essay on literature in the form of a tragicomic novel set in a whacked-out art school.

If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
Tom Lutz: Who?

What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
God. She/he would probably be very smart and interesting.

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
I just got a shipment of some 130 works of fiction published in 2005 that I'm reading as a judge for a fiction award — they came in the mail. Some fantastic new work, including many spectacularly great story collections: Laila Lalami's Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Paul Mandelbaum's Adriane on the Edge, T. C. Boyle's Tooth and Claw, Aimee Bender's Willful Creatures, Daniel Alarcon's War by Candlelight, Tod Goldberg's Simplify, Judy Budnitz's Nice Big American Baby, and James Salter's Last Night. The novels I have really loved so far include William Vollmann's Europe Central, Sesshu Foster's Atomik Aztex, Percival Everett's Wounded, Joy Nicholson's Road to Esmeralda, and Salvador Plascencia's odd and endearingly Bakhtinian The People of Paper.

Describe the best breakfast of your life.
A tie between a bowl of congee with dried shrimp and peanuts I had on a deck over the Chao Phraya river as a thunderstorm hit, and the standard French breakfast I had every day for a couple weeks in a Parisian hotel so tiny there was no place to eat except in bed, eye-level with the gargoyles on the church next door.

What is your idea of absolute happiness?
A great breakfast.

Why do you write?
I feel worse when I don't.

If you could have been someone else, who would that be, and why?
Hitler, Mao, or Stalin seem to have had the greatest opportunity to save the most lives. spacer

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