|What is it about Christie Hodgen’s work that makes you such an ardent fan?
I’ve only read Elegies for the Brokenhearted, but that book is one of my favorite novels of recent years. The sentences sent off little electric shocks to my fingertips and brain. Her writing is so good that I had to read passages out loud to my boyfriend. Then he had to read the book, and was equally impressed. You know a novel works when you keep thinking about it long after you’ve finished it. It’s definitely a book I will want to reread.
What’s the most memorable line / passage from a Christie Hodgen story or novel?
I love the passage Christie has on her website, from Elegies for the Brokenhearted: “We were poor, our lives filled with the stupid things that poor people did, all the brutalities we committed against each other, the violence, the petty victories we claimed over one another, crabs topping each other in a basket instead of trying to climb out of that basket: the desperate, impulsive lurches we made at love, no matter what the cost to those around us or how fleeting we knew that love would be: the indifference; all that we drank and smoked and shot into our veins: the hours we spent at grueling, mind-numbing jobs, one day after another, how, in order to survive these jobs, we scraped our minds clean like plates, cleared them of all thought; our prayers, if we prayed at all, sent off in rages, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Goddamned Christ. We were poor.”
What qualities in fiction or poetry do you value above all others? Do you think most authors and editors value the same qualities?
I don’t read to just be entertained. I read first and foremost for the sentences and the writing itself. I want to see the way an author can string words together and construct poetic prose out of interesting juxtapositions. I need to read fiction or poetry that changes the way I see or look at the world. I don’t think all authors and editors have this in mind when they write. Some authors want to simply provide escapism, and some editors are driven by books that will sell to a wide audience. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I love an entertaining book as much as the next person, but that’s not the only reason why I read or write.
Have the many hours you’ve spent reading helped, hindered, or in any way heightened your real-life relationships?
Reading has never been a problem in my life. Anyone who thinks the hours a reader spends with their nose in a book is detrimental has the wrong outlook on life, in my opinion. Instead of “you are what you eat,” I believe that “you are what you read.” Books have saved me during the darkest times in my life, and I can honestly say that reading is my religion. I believe in the power of good books more than anything else.
How’d you get to be, you know, the way you are?
My love of reading definitely came from my beloved grandmother, Mimo. She was fired from her first job when she was a teenager because she was caught reading behind the clothes rack. Mimo used to take me to the local library’s book sales, and we’d fill up grocery bags with a bunch of books for only a dollar. For my tenth birthday, she paid off my $100 in overdue library fines. I also used to volunteer at the local indie bookstore when I was in middle school. I’d shelve books for the staff discount. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a voracious reader.