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 »