Vice: Are plots, or things that stand in as plots in your texts, completely incidental products of language, or is there an underlying scaffolding at any point?
Life is plotproof, muddled, desultory, irreducible to chains of cause and effect. It’s sweaty and rampantly sad. It’s a motion of moments. There’s no line of any kind other than the one that runs from birth to thwarting to death. As a reader, I drop out of a novel or even a short story as soon as I sense that the writer has a scheme and is overarranging things. I’ve had it with the masterminded. That’s just my own prejudice, obviously, but I’m the same way about humor: I don’t want to wait through a setup for the punch line: I want one one-liner after another: I want the upshot, I want everything to feel final from the first, I want the conclusion. I don’t need to know what it took to get there; I only need to know that there’s nowhere else to go. In my fiction, life sweeps over people as they sum themselves up on the fly. There’s no backstory for them to take shelter in. They can’t luxuriate in ancestry and hand-me-down handicaps. They’ve never once felt as if their bodies were earmarked for life. It’s all they can do to just view each other’s ruins and blurt out their apercus in nothing flat. There’s nothing more to it than the fact that in every moment everything’s over all over again. It’s not as if there were something to be had from life. And there isn’t one thing to lead to another, because there’s only ever just one thing—maybe it’s a man rubbing a woman’s feet every night, often for hours on end, the woman keeping her socks on while he rubs, thick socks, happily and athletically striped and reaching almost to the knee, and the man not minding having something to do with his hands, which otherwise would only be falling asleep, because he’s over in Japan teaching business writing to homesick Americans, even though he doesn’t know the first thing about business writing, and the woman is just another American, of appealingly clouded mind and projective hair, nothing else going on between the two of them except for the foot-rubbing, though she is growing on him, but only as if she is literally appending herself to him, and what she’s screaming about at the top of her lungs is either only the fact that she’s in a faraway place but doesn’t feel far away or the fact that just because she means something doesn’t mean anything other than that with any luck she will one day probably get away with calling the man a friend.