Page Turner Focus: Porochista Khakpour


This Saturday, November 14, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop will be hosting Page Turner, its first literary festival—an all-day lineup of panels, readings, and award presentations at Brooklyn’s powerHouse Arena featuring a slew of great writers. I’ll actually be taking part in the festival that afternoon as the moderator of a panel on “queering the Asian-American coming of age story” with Alexander Chee, Abha Dawesar, and Rakesh Satyal, so I hope New York area-readers of Beatrice might be able to come by and say hello. In the meantime, it’s my good fortune to be able to share with you some mini-interviews with a few of the other authors who will be appearing at the festival. (Thanks to Ken Chen and Vyshali Manivannan for putting these together and sending them my way.)

Let’s start with Porochista Khakpour, the author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects. She’s one of four writers who’ll be taking part in a panel called “The New Eclectics,” which promises to be one of the funniest segments of the festival. She lives in New York City except when she’s out in Pennsylvania teaching creative writing at Bucknell.

So, what’ve you been working on lately?

Grading! Also working on my second novel, doodling some essays, trying to resurrect hopeless short stories.

We all know that writers can be exceptionally good at procrastinating when they should be writing. What do you typically do to procrastinate?

If it’s not the internet or just worrying a lot, then it’s the best case scenario: turning from one form of writing to another. I really only got into essays and creative non-fiction as a way to avoid writing my second novel. Journalism, in general, has always been my way out from fiction. Writing to avoid other writing… I keep the cheating in the family.

What’s your favorite guilty pleasure that most people would be surprised to know about, be it in literature, food, music, or what have you?

Nobody is surprised to discover my destructive love affair with the Internet. But sometimes, people are surprised about my genuine appreciation of less-than-high American culture: hair metal, bacon (especially since I’m a vegetarian!), Bubbalicious, Danzig, Gatorade, bad beer, radio hip-hop, and last but oh-so not least: Mickey Rourke. Also, I am crazy about old Choose Your Own Adventures.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what’s on your iPod right now?

I never listen to music when I am actually writing. But, I listen to music when I am thinking about writing. I am currently listening to Erik Satie, The Game, Bach, the most recent Metallica, and The Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner” on repeat. I’m all over the place; it’s probably a good thing for my next novel that I don’t listen to all this stuff when I write.

What did you do this morning?

Woke up strangely late and ate a bowl of cereal with hemp milk while worrying about stuff. Went to therapy. Worried about how I sounded to my therapist. Graded papers. Worried about my students. Went to CVS and ran into students. Worried about whether I offended them by cutting it short and also if $45 is too much to spend at CVS on basically nothing. Then, emails and more Internet-addiction quality time and some worrying about my Internet addiction. Then: afternoon. Question expired!

9 November 2009 | events |