Interview with Jimmy Chen
1. I hadn’t noticed it before I read “White Girls,” but now in other pieces of yours I see it as well, the love of lengthy layered sentences. What do you think a long sentence conveys that a bunch of short sentences don’t?
I see the long sentence as a linguistic riddle, a way to both expand—and yet, counter-intuitively, condense—an idea through the use of semi-colons, commas, or em dashes—as if such tools had an almost earnestness of not wanting the sentence to end, like a date whose datée had eyes elsewhere. It also makes room for ambivalences, as the narrator is given breadth/breath to spin around in vagueness and near contradiction. Henry James does this especially well, and D.F. Wallace. Short sentences (i.e. “Mother died today,” “Call me Ishmael”) have a kind of authorial presumptiveness of inherent meaning which I’m weary of.
2. What’s the relationship of beauty to vulgarity?
I find many things beautiful that are not conventionally so; in part with irony, but mostly just because I’m deeply sad and have noticed that the world seen through such disposition tends, as some spiritually directionless or desperate reprieve, to look beautiful often.
3. To what degree do you think there is truth in stereotypes?
Stereotypes are the stigma of unflinching truth.
4. What do you imagine or hope that someone who doesn’t know you or your writing will conclude after reading this story?
That I am a romantic and kind man who has been hurt by this unromantic and unkind world; that I am available for casual unprotected sex within ~10-15 miles of zip code 94107 (I am the first Google yield of “Jimmy Chen,” wherein my email may be located; I get off work at 5pm, and am available most weekends).
5. Should white people/ girls be offended?
No, they should be subdued. They should realize how lame and subconsciously imperialist they have been acting, but should continue doing so, because they are so beautiful being exactly them. Being white, dramatically, is the verge of literature.