A: Every time I thought about a self interview, three images emerged: James Lipton asking me questions on “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” Vanity Fair quizzing me on its back-page Proust Questionnaire, and singing with the Beatles. I figured I would fulfill these aggrandizing fantasies here.
James Lipton: What is your favorite word? Least favorite word?
A: Amalgamate. Relatable.
Beatles: How do you feel at the end of the [writing] day?
A: Mostly glad it’s over, and, if I’m lucky, slightly exhilarated and inordinately proud of myself, the way I feel after I go to the gym. Also, usually something hurts: jaw, shoulders, wrist, amygdala…
Marcel Proust: What is your current state of mind?
A: Mostly nervous and excited for the release of my new book A Nearly Perfect Copy (you knew I’d tie it in somehow) on April 9th. According to the cover it’s: “richly drawn and sharply observed…. a smart and affecting novel of family and forgery set amid the rarefied international art world.”
Allison Amend: What’s it about?
A: Elm Howells has a loving family and a distinguished career at an elite Manhattan auction house. But after a tragic loss throws her into an emotional crisis, she pursues a reckless course of action that jeopardizes her personal and professional success. Meanwhile, talented artist Gabriel Connois wearies of remaining at the margins of the capricious Parisian art scene, and, desperate for recognition, embarks on a scheme that threatens his burgeoning reputation. As these narratives converge, with disastrous consequences, A Nearly Perfect Copy boldly challenges our presumptions about originality and authenticity, loss and replacement, and the perilous pursuit of perfection.
Allison Amend: Why did you write it?
A: I was interested in society’s obsession with authenticity, and our simultaneous fascination with fakery: fake news shows, fake designer bags, fake food. What happens when you attempt to replicate something? How does the fact that replication is impossible affect our feelings about it? If I set a book in Paris, will someone pay me to go there to do research?
Beatles: What do you see when you turn out the light?
A: 304 pages.
James Lipton: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
A: I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, and have completed coursework for a TVMD, which is a medical degree you gain from watching hospital shows on television. Also, I’m available to host “Saturday Night Live.”
James Lipton: What profession would you not like to do?
A: Art forgery. Way too hard. Also, honeydipping. Sometimes, writing.
Marcel Proust: If you were to die and come back as a person or an animal, what do you think it would be?
A: Last winter, I glanced out the window and saw a groundhog. It was like looking into an interspecies mirror. I can’t explain this, and I would rather have a more noble spirit animal, but you don’t get to choose who you love.
Marcel Proust: What is your motto?
A: I live by two creeds: 1. Sometimes you win and sometimes you join the circus and the dwarves grow on you (my brother taught me that one) and 2. It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (that one is my grandmother’s).
ALLISON AMEND, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is the author of the Independent Publisher Book Award-winning short story collection THINGS THAT PASS FOR LOVE and the novel STATIONS WEST, which was a finalist for the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Oklahoma Book Award. Her new novel, A NEARLY PERFECT COPY, will be published on April 9, 2013. She lives in New York City, where she teaches creative writing at Lehman College and for the Red Earth MFA program. Visit her on the web at: http://www.allisonamend.com or http://www.facebook.com/AllisonAmendAuthor