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Powell's Q&A

Paul Neilan

Describe your latest project.
It's my first novel, Apathy and Other Small Victories. It's about a guy who doesn't care about anything and all of his humiliating adventures. It's also about sleeping in the bathroom at work, being framed for a deaf lady's murder, and how it feels to get beat up by a girl. The back of the book says it's about one man's desperate fight to assign absolutely no meaning to modern life. That sums it up pretty nicely.

  1. Apathy and Other Small Victories
    $7.50 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
No way. I got caught doing that in high school. It's not worth it. And to all you kids out there who are thinking about it, your first time should be special. You don't want it to be with a book, no matter how much you think you love it. Especially if it's from your school's library. When you try to return it they will call your parents in for a conference, it will be the first time you see your father cry, you will be charged list price for a replacement copy of Jane Eyre, and when you go to your ten year reunion everyone will still remember what you did.

If you could choose any story to live in, what story would that be? Why?
Maybe War and Peace or Infinite Jest. Something with a lot of pages so my life would be long. I don't care what I'm doing. I just don't want to die.

Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good place to start.
Frederick Exley, and they should start with A Fan's Notes like I just did. I'm in the middle of reading it right now and it's killing me. I usually don't recommend something when I'm only halfway through, but the rest of the pages could be blank and it still wouldn't matter. It's that good. Everyone should read it right now. Go!

Writers are better liars than other people: true or false?
True. Anybody can make something up and have it sound believable. The hard part is remembering all the lies you've told, and all the people you've told them to, and then living the lies that have become your life. That takes discipline and a good memory, because you always have to keep the story straight in your head, like you do when you're writing. It's one of the few transferable skills writers have.

What do you dislike most?
I hate bananas. I just hate them. But I also think a banana suit is the funniest fruit costume a person can wear. I'm very complicated.

If you could have been someone else, who would that be, and why?
I'd like to somehow become my own son, even though I don't have one. I think I'd be a confused and incompetent dad, but it would be interesting raising myself, and they'd probably name a new psychological disorder after me. The eventual memoir about my childhood and family life would be groundbreaking and really weird.

Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
Turtles. They're like slow and elderly dinosaurs. I saw a huge one on the Discovery Channel that was over seven feet long. It was like Land of the Lost but real. Chaka could have ridden it like a horse. I have no idea what budgies are. They sound British and pervy. spacer

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