Editorial

One Literary Citizen’s Diet

IMG_9570

The photo accompanying this post is one I snapped of a stage right before George Saunders and Dana Spiotta took to it on February 5 to celebrate the launch of the paperback of Lincoln In the Bardo at Murmrr Lit in Brooklyn, New York.

You can almost see them: Mr. Saunders on the left, his ankles crossed, leaning on his right arm; Ms. Spiotta on the right opening a bottle of water and arranging her notes; and dog-eared copy of Lincoln on the table between them. It was a good evening, full of very human advice from very fine writers.

It was one of many book launches, readings and/or talks I’ve been to so far this year. You see, I am a fangirl supreme. It’s one of my finest traits, I think: my willingness to show up to support authors anywhere, anytime, always.

I call myself a fangirl, but what I actually am is a leech or some kind of nonpathogenic parasite. You see, I need a constant supply of (good) fiction in my diet, the kind that electrifies the brain and leaves me puzzling over form character structure for days. And while I can get that while sitting on my couch at home, what I really need is to listen to other writers talking about their writing process. And while I can sometimes get that from listening to an interview with a writer, what I want most is to interrogate their brains and be in the same physical space, breathing in the same air. A consumer and a creator are different, but I need to consume creators like I cannibalisticcirclejerkfeedingfrenzymindmeld.

George Saunders might not need another butt in a seat. Roxane Gay doesn’t have a hard time selling out an event. The line for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie might snake around the block in the freezing rain. Either there or in a dimly lit backroom of a bar, I’m going to laser beam eye spotlight the reader of the moment and do my best to support the shit out of them — buy the book, tell my friends, post on social media — because it feels like the right thing to do, but also because I am glad there is not a finite amount of creativity in the world so I can siphon off a little bit when I need to re-energize.

Melissa Koss is a Senior Associate Fiction Editor for The Flexible Persona.