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Jaime Clarke is a graduate of the University of Arizona and holds an MFA from Bennington College.
He is the author of the novels We’re So Famous and Vernon Downs (forthcoming from Roundabout Press); editor of the anthologies Don’t You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes, and Conversations with Jonathan Lethem; and co-editor of the anthologies No Near Exit: Writers Select Their Favorite Work from Post Road Magazine (with Mary Cotton), and Boston Noir 2: The Classics (with Dennis Lehane and Mary Cotton).
Clarke is a founding editor of the literary magazine Post Road, now published at Boston College, and co-owner, with his wife, of Newtonville Books, an independent bookstore in Boston.
(From the Author's Introduction)
When the online culture magazine Fanzine approached me about contributing, my idea was to host a series of in-depth interviews with writers I admired. I envisioned immersing my-self in an author's oeuvre, emerging with diamond sharp questions meant to elicit astoundingly deep answers. I relished the self-assignment and set about selecting my first subject.
But then, a triangulation of events occurred: my wife and I bought an independent bookstore, I began to assemble my last issue of Post Road, the literary magazine I cofounded, in preparation for its transition to Boston College, and I revisited the archive of excellent Paris Review interviews. Both the bookstore acquisition and Post Road's transition promised separate but equally demanding sets of daunting responsibilities. I worried that I wouldn't have the stamina to bring off the type of interviews I'd imagined. In the Paris Review interviews, I realized with a mixture of chagrin and relief that what I wanted to do had already been done — well and comprehensively.
And so I was free to re-imagine my pitch to Fanzine. A residual and reflexive contrarian reaction (which is my personality, to be frank) to the Paris Review interviews was the (maybe original) idea to ask writers only non-writing questions, to in effect give them a spot on an imaginary late-night couch. Which is how Talk Show was created.
Once the concept took hold, there was infinite joy in dreaming up the topics and corresponding questions, which divide into two categories: the speculative and the biographical. I recognized that the questions in both categories were weighted to elicit confession — maybe even folly — and I worried about a general reluctance on the writers' part to expose their personalities (well, I didn't worry about them all), but I was pleasantly surprised at the ready answer to this call to arms by over a hundred writers, as well as the scores of writers who begged to know the topics as they were announced, hoping to contribute. We'll never know the answers from those that were lost, but the pages that follow offer a unique glimpse into the minds of some of today's brightest and best writers...