Awful Interview: Kyle Winkler

9 May

It’s Kyle Winkler Day here at Vouched. I’ve had this Awful Interview done with him on Google Reader for a week or so now, and realized today is probably the best day of any to post it, alongside the story of his that I vouched today for Short Story Month.

I’m really stoked to have Kyle in town for Vouched Presents this coming Sunday. The dude loves words perhaps more than anyone else I know. He actually worked with an ex-girlfriend of mine at the Ball State university library, and she used to tell me about a guy who would just sit and read dictionaries on their shifts together. Turns out, this guy was Kyle. Dude consumes words. Sprinkles them on his cereal like so much sugar, stirs them into his coffee. Here is Kyle.

What’s this I hear about you not believing firemen ever rescue cats from trees?

I imagine you heard this because my own cat has never been rescued from a tree by a fireman, or by any other type of civil servant, volunteer or otherwise, and probably because I don’t believe in trees. Let me modify that last claim. ‘I don’t believe in trees if there are cats in them.’ So, yeah. And if there aren’t any cats in trees, which is impossible, as I’ve stated, then what’s the point of a fireman, or a firewoman (if we’re being inclusive), climbing up a tree that doesn’t exist to rescue a cat that’s not there. Further, why is anyone rescuing an animal from a place of natural residence? Don’t most cats like to be up high anyhow? Mine prefers it when available. It’s like a fireman trying to rescue a goat off the side of a mountain. Leave the goat alone! It likes it there! Same logic applies (or doesn’t) here. Even further, I feel it is beneath the valor and dignity of a fireman to have to climb up his fireman’s ladder to rescue a small cat, especially in deep July heat in full regalia with the rubber boots, the thick jacket, and that massive neck-breaking helmet, etc. The nerve of it…

So you have a cat? What’s its name?

Mishka. Which is a Slavic sort of name. I, ignorantly, thought it was solely a feminine diminutive. But I found out from a classmate in grad school who was Bulgarian that the name is used for a number of things, q.v. the diminutive form of Mikhail; ‘little mouse’ [ironically]; ‘little bear’ [the real reason I chose it, b/c my cat is large and has huge paws]. The Bulgarian woman, who’s name as of now slips my mind, sat to left of me in this arid lit. class called ‘Romanticism and the Theme of Doubt’ or some similarly bland title like that. It was taught by a man who talked about whatever the hell he wanted and didn’t cotton well to discursive questions or requests for elucidation. To make this class even more arduous was his lack of an entry point for note-taking and his Herculean reading requirements. Two large books in two days, etc. The cherry on top was that this professor, who clearly knew his business with regards to Romanticism, and was a scholar of Nathaniel Hawthorne, had what amounts to a speech impediment brought on by a terrible cycling accident some years prior. But, the prof. had battled his way back to an amazing level of speech coherency–I think by sheer force and will–and made himself mostly, if not tolerably, understood by the nine people who regularly attended. So I sort of forgave the pompous ‘tude when I learned about this and also saw him still riding his bike to and from campus sans helmet or protective gear. The man was a veritable middle finger to the universe. So yes, I have a cat. Don’t you have one?

Oh. My cat, yes. I have one. Named Brisby, after the protagonist in The Secret of NIHM, a book/movie about mice and rats (also ironically). In the book, she was actually named Mrs. Frisby, but they changed it in the movie for trademark reasons, I guess.

So, you consider the act of naming a cat after a mouse ironic, yes? I had an argument with a friend after naming Brisby that doing so was not, in fact, ironic, though I argued it was. She also argued that I use too many commas.

Commas are weird. I teach composition, as you know, and sometimes when I’m grading papers, and I see a punctuation mistake like a comma splice, etc., I get real nervous, because, you know, part of me thinks, ‘Um, shit, this whole punctuation thingy is a real bummer, man,’ and I tend not to be such a hardy-hard-ass about those squidges and blips. Now that makes it sound like I don’t fix comma collapses. Not so. I do correct students. But I do have those lower back beads of sweat that make me feel like punctuation is a sham, and yet I still have to stand up there and extol the grand tradition of commas and how they help life stay livable, etc. etc. When, in reality, some of my favorite books eschew commas altogether. Blerg, as Liz Lemon would say.

What are some of those favorite books? No commas? That just seems uncivilized.

I’m thinking particularly of Cormac McCarthy &Faulkner. Although, then again, W.G. Sebald and Roberto Bolaño may work here as well. And when I say no commas, I mean…the punctuation takes a back-seat to content and artistic license. As it should be, I think. Whereas, let’s see…Jane Austen? Comma slut. She can’t keep them in her pants. Sticking ‘em in ‘ere and there. She’s run ragged from all the commas she’s giving away for free! The thought of it….Makes me sick.
I just realized that the males came out looking much better in that answer. Hmm. Dickens leaked commas out his ass, as well. There. Keep it even steven.

Do you remember those chips (crisps, as Dickens would call them, silly Brit) made with Olio in the early 2000s? Didn’t they cause anal leakage? So, you’re a misogynist, albeit a mindful one. That’s good to know. Anything else the good people of Indy should know about you for the Vouched Presents reading?

Um, yes. One thing I am thinking of now because it just happened to me. I was ordering a coffee at the coffeeshop and when the “barista” asked my name, I said it, and she said, “Todd?” That always fucking happens! Ever since I was a wee lad, my name has been most mistaken with Todd. Hard to fathom. I suppose it’s the way I say it, mumbling and all. So, when you or Drew Carey or whoever introduces me, and everyone thinks “Todd?”, we’ll know, just you and me, what the real name is.

4 Responses to “Awful Interview: Kyle Winkler”

  1. KW May 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    I like that the tags for this interview are “Ball State” & “how to save a cat”.

    • ce. May 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

      I figured if anyone would know how to save a cat, it’d be you.

  2. MN May 10, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    I would just like everyone to know that Kyle Winkler is a hack. This interview is probably not actually him. He has difficulty spelling. In fact, that is not a picture of Kyle Winkler. That man is much too handsome.

  3. Jessica December 7, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    This guy has a lot to say about a lot of bull shit.. When someone asks what your cats name is.. You don’t talk about it for that long

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