Antoine Wilson is the author of The Interloper. His short fiction, essays and reviews have appeared in The Paris Review, Best New American Voices, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and A Public Space (1, 9, 12). His novel Panorama City will be released by HMH Books this September. Don't miss a reading and talk with Antoine and Ed Park at McNally Jackson on Friday, September 28, 7:30 PM.
1. Can you describe your daily routine, any rituals or habits?
If I go three or four days without writing, I feel like I'm going insane. So I don't go long without writing. It doesn't matter what kind, as long as I can release some of the accumulated subjectivity.
When I'm working on something in earnest, I keep a regular routine, writing in the morning, after two cups of coffee and before my head gets full of other people's words. Between projects, I'm a mess.
2. Where do you go to people-watch?
People watching in L.A. is tricky. Much of the populace is atomized in cars, and you can't really get a good look at someone in their car. Also, many people here project specific images of themselves, leaving no room for interpretation. They're "on," which makes for crap people watching.
My favorite place is LAX. At the airport, everyone's too focused on travel-related stress to pretend to be anything but themselves. I always arrive ridiculously early.
3. What are your anxieties about language?
The distance between the word and the world. Which is probably why I don't write more nonfiction. With fiction, the word is the world. Or the world is made of words. There's no gap to worry about.
That said, I'm always anxious about whether I've covered my tracks well enough. I like sentences to feel effortless. There's no way to know whether I've pulled off that trick. Therefore anxiety.
4. Is there a character, a scene, a moment that you dream of conveying, but haven't figured out how to yet?
An unknown artist destroyed by a minor success.
5. What landscape do you most often fantasize about?
A certain cove on a certain island off the Southern California coast. Perfect rights reeling and bending into the shore. Nobody around. The land looking like L.A. might have looked hundreds of years ago. As the ocean advances and recedes over the cobblestones, it makes tremendous whooshing sounds.
I take yoga about once a week, in a yurt up my street, and when I'm in savasana, supposedly thinking about nothing, that cove is what I'm really thinking about.
6. What is the last book you didn't finish?
I have a terrible tendency to start books and not finish them until a long time later. As a result I'm probably in the middle of fifty books or so. I tend to decide what to pick up based on where I am in my house.
Here are a few books I'm currently reading but haven't yet finished:
7. What are you looking forward to?
Being three-fourths of the way through my next novel (my favorite part of the process, probably several years away at this point). The Slow Paparazzo book. Winter surf.