Along with DORA: A HEADCASE, Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of THE CHRONOLOGY OF WATER: A MEMOIR and three works of short fiction. Her book REAL TO REEL was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. THE CHRONOLOGY OF WATER won the Oregon Book Award Reader's Choice 2012 and the PNBA Award 2012. She teaches writing, literature, film, and Women’s Studies in Oregon.
Here, Lidia Yuknavitch answers interview questions "in the form of excerpts" -- with excerpts from her new novel DORA: A HEADCASE. Enjoy!
1. What is writing like?
As for my girl wall story, well, I remixed it and turned it into a bitchin’ little art installation called: “Dora: A Head Case.” You have to enter a Dora room lined with pink plastic and vag fur and Vaseline in order to experience it. When you get inside, the walls are words. There are stories about everything that’s happened to me in my dumb little life. There are lines from sex books and lines from bands and lines I collected in bathroom stalls all over the city. And letters to Francis Bacon and even advice here and there to Sig, like “Sig, you gotta decrease your douchehood next time you get a girl client.” On the ceiling of the girl room is a film with the most bitchin’ soundscape you will ever hear in your life playing in a loop. The sounds of boots on pavement and wind and rain banging the cord of a flagpole. The sound of dog breath and Lexus engines and bum pee and violin concertos all mixed together. Ave Maria’s high notes and things waitresses at Shari’s yelled at us and falling glass. The sound of water. Of a metal bar rolling on the concrete of a parking garage. Birds and electricity hum. Sound is everywhere besides in your voice.
2. What isn’t writing like?
I blow pumpkin color monkey chunks all over the side of the car. Sorry Ave Maria’s mom. Everything smells like bile and spit and girl puke. My head feels like a hard metal pinball has gotten loose… I wipe my mouth. Cold night air beats my head up outside the window of the Jag. Ave Maria is petting my neck. Obsidian has her leg crossed over mine. Like she’s trying to keep me from blowing a hole through the top of the car. Without expression, I’m a zombie girl.
3. When you do it, why?
I wonder where voice lives in a body. Is it in the throat, where the flaps pound each other to death, making us think we’ve got important fucking things to say? Or is it in the mind, where thoughts crash crazily into each other pinbally and dinging, until they slide down the chute and out the hole and into the world? Couldn’t voice come from anywhere?
4. When you don’t, why?
Next time you talk with a female? Ask her which city her body is. Or ocean. Give her poetry books written by women. Like Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton and H.D. and Adrienne Rich and Mary Oliver and Emily Dickinson. Let her draw or paint or sing a self before. You. Say. A. Word.