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Bitter Writer

Bitter Writer is an advice column in which I answer any questions related to the literary world.


Dear Bitter Writer:

I think that having the capacity to feel a broad array of emotions is a big component of being a great, great writer, like you are, and with that in mind I was wondering what the first book that made you cry was?




This one is very easy.

The first book that made me cry was Horton Hears a Who!

Completely fucking terrifying.

Dr. Seuss was one messed-up guy, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he turned out to some sort of unknown serial killer. He’s like a Stephen King for children. You should fear him.

Anyway, I was probably about four when this book was first read to me, and I immediately understood that our world was no different than the speck of dust Horton was holding. Our lives– even those of Mommy and Daddy– were incredibly precarious and vulnerable, subject to forces we know nothing about and couldn’t even begin to imagine. At any second, all we knew and loved could just vanish into an unknowable abyss. I did not sleep for two weeks after the babysitter (Summer) read this stupid book to me, and ever since, I’ve been cursed by a deeply penetrating existential terror, one that continues to govern my days.


Dear Bitter Writer:

You’re such an interesting and charismatic person, I was wondering if you’d share with us any literary pilgrimages you might have gone on?

Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence


Ha, so great to hear from you!

As far as your question goes, I’ve never been on a, “this is the cafeteria where Kafka ate,” or, “ this is the dungeon where Dr. Seuss used to torture his victims,” kind of pilgrimage. Instead, I think of each day as a literary pilgrimage. I go out with the conscious intent of finding a moment of beauty in the world, of discovering something holy, and then I try to recreate it using words. And so each day is a journey, a pilgrimage toward something sacred that must be worshipped. 

PS: Have you been getting my postcards? I have not heard back and was wondering if I was given the wrong super-yacht address for you?

PPS: I think you’re something sacred that must be worshipped!


Dear Bitter Writer:

I just want to say how much I LOVED your brilliant book A VAN FULL OF GIRLS.

It is, and I hope this doesn’t embarrass you, the work of a true genius. Obviously, writing just pours out of you, but if for some reason you couldn’t be a genius writer, what do you think you’d do for work?




Thank you for the kind, extremely perceptive words!

It’s hard to imagine a life where I’m not a writer, but if I were forced to live one by some alien over-lord or something, I think I would probably be a model. I think I could bring a lot to that job.

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