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Posts Tagged ‘leigh stein’

Interview: Author Leigh Stein Sends a “Dispatch From the Future”

In books on July 24, 2012 at 9:47 am

Sarah T.

The future is notoriously hard to predict, but it’s a safe bet that it holds big things for Leigh Stein. The 27-year-old poet and novelist has published two witty, wonderful books in the last year alone. Her first, The Fallback Plan, is a coming-of-age novel about a college graduate spending a confused summer at home in the suburbs.  In her new book of poems, Dispatch from the Future, Stein plays fast and loose with the rules of time and space, not to mention poetic conventions — all to dazzling effect.

Beneath Dispatch‘s irreverent wisecracks and pop culture references are big concerns:  love, loneliness, revenge, freedom, endless choice. Stein has a knack for asking real humdingers of questions. “What’s the future/of your emergency?” is a funny way for an operator to answer the phone, but it’s also a puzzle anyone who’s ever gotten themselves out of a bad situation has had to solve.

Girls Like Giants’ questions aren’t nearly as mull-worthy; luckily, Stein agreed to an email interview anyway. Read on for her thoughts on The Bachelorette as poetic muse, why writing a novel is like working in the mines, and how to win back your ex-boyfriend after he leaves you for a Lithuanian model.

The opening poem in Dispatch from the Future warns, “If you read this book sequentially, / bad things may happen to you, but only as bad / as the things that would have happened to you anyway.” But it also warns that not reading sequentially will feel like being on a sunken pirate ship. For me, this was kind of like watching the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz point both ways, which was an awesome and trippy way to enter into your book. How did you want your readers to go about reading your poems?

What a great question! The first section of Dispatch is very inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure series, and instead of preparing people for what they typically would expect from a book of poetry, I wanted to prepare people for a dangerous adventure. Of course you can read the book sequentially (and I ordered the poems intentionally) but the pleasure of reading a poetry collection is getting to jump around, just as you would in a CYOA book, where finishing the book means risking death. Read the rest of this entry »

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Boomerangs and Babysitting: Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan

In Uncategorized on May 25, 2012 at 6:42 am

Sarah T.

I don’t watch Girls because I can’t afford HBO, so instead I sometimes eavesdrop on the youngs while I’m on the train.

Over the weekend I took Metronorth from Grand Central to the Berkshires. Two dark-haired girls sat across from me. One had her hair in a ponytail. The other wore shorts and a pair of moccasins, no socks.

The one with the ponytail did most of the talking. She said most of the boys at her college in New York were either gay or in relationships. Due to the extreme straight single guy shortage, the ones that existed had women falling all over them. “But I’m not going to go up to somebody and be like, ‘Hey, I like you, I want you to be my boyfriend,’” she said, embarrassed.

She sort of liked one guy who was a jerk but knew he was a jerk (That is the worst kind, I wanted to break in). He was funny (no he wasn’t), and sometimes she’d go over to his place with friends. But he didn’t want a girlfriend. He was still hot, though, and she would have hooked up with him if he didn’t have so little respect for women (high five for holding out).

She talked about how open she was with people, which certainly seemed true. Making friends was sometimes hard for her, because she let everyone know what she was thinking about and most of the people she met were suppressing things.

The girl in moccasins mostly listened. She did such a perfect job of it—laughing at all the right times, nodding, asking questions—that I wondered if she was secretly an expert therapist disguising herself as a nineteen-year-old. The only time she said anything revealing about herself was when her friend told a story about a girl who’d behaved rudely to a guy at a party.

“I mean, if that was you,” the first girl said, “you wouldn’t have blown him off, right?”

“I don’t talk to boys,” said the girl in moccasins, tilting her head.

“Right, but you at least would have said hello?”

“Yeah, sure.”

I was so intrigued. How interesting that this cool, empathetic girl didn’t talk to boys! From the way she said it, and her friend’s casual response, it was clear that this was common knowledge, based on firm but mysterious (to me) principles.

Then they talked about how scared they were about turning twenty, which was hilarious. But I remember what it was like to worry that twenty was old. I had a friend in college who freaked out because she thought she was getting crowsfeet. Read the rest of this entry »