Tabs open on your screen right now:
Gmail; Google Drive; the Google doc I’m answering these questions in; another project I’m working on, also a gdoc; “Constructed Worlds” by Elif Batuman; my GCal (March is very busy for me); an essay by intersex activist Hida Viloria, who I just interviewed for Rolling Stone; Twitter; Jay Caspian Kang’s blog; this conversation with Mary Gaitskill at Lit Hub; and a page full of image searches for “winona ryder heathers cigarette”.
If you had to brag about yourself:
I have a good ear for lyricism! And I love to love!
Your writer crush:
So many! Some stars I’m excited to be working in the proximity of, and of course list not inclusive: Jenny Zhang, Hannah Black, Tommy Pico, Morgan Parker, Jia Tolentino. And always on my reading list: Mary Gaitskill (I keep Bad Behavior on my nightstand), James Salter, Elena Ferrante, Mary Karr, Maggie Nelson, Eve Babitz, Zadie Smith, Rebecca Solnit. The last book I read that I really responded to was Problems by Jade Sharma. As soon as I send this email I’ll realize I’ve left off someone I really love.
But honestly? I don’t think I’ve ever stanned for a writer harder than I stan for Jenny Zhang!
All of Mitski’s “Your Best American Girl,” AND/OR, this line from “Sunnyside,” a song by the band Southern Belle, which I listened to a lot in high school and which probably doesn’t exist anymore because they were a tiny perfect local band from 2008, and which goes: “I want to steal things from inside your room / so that I can go back / and return them to you”. That is me, as a lover, and it is perfect.
Any place in the world:
The Oregon coast
California but not forever
Hot coffee (black), a cigarette, an open window.
Once, an old boyfriend bought me pink tissues when I was sick because he knew pink was my favorite color. They looked so pretty crumpled up in the trash—like flowers.
Your rituals (writing or not):
I make my bed every morning / whenever I get out of it for the day. I started a few months ago, probably around the inauguration? and haven’t missed a day since. It’s pretty much the only thing holding me together aside from this pair of high waisted jeans I got at American Apparel after they announced they were going out of business, which are so tight that they make me feel like I’m in control.
When I write, I make myself a cup of black tea (usually Earl Grey or English Breakfast). Then I pour a generous slug of whiskey in it (usually Bulleit bourbon). Then I keep adding hot water or whiskey depending on how the writing’s going.
Least impressive thing about you:
I have no sense of interior design or homemaking ability.
Favorite space to write:
My couch, by the big bay windows in my apartment
Poet’s House (preferably with a view of the water)
What should we know:
Guilty literary pleasure:
Best book nobody talks about:
Edinburgh, by Alexander Chee. But! HMH just reissued it and I am so happy, because it’s a real gem.
Last time you lied:
I said the volume of the music was fine.
It wasn’t. (I’m sensitive.)
Larissa Pham is a writer and antiviolence advocate. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review Daily, the Nation, Dazed, Guernica, and elsewhere. She is the author of Fantasian, a novella from Badlands Unlimited.