Awful Interview: Matt Fogarty

11 Oct

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This is a photograph of writer Matt Fogarty with Santa Clause. Yes, Santa is real and Matt knows him! It’s probably because Matt is from Detroit, which is pretty close to the North Pole. Now he’s an MFA candidate at the University of South Carolina, which is pretty far from the North Pole. He’s the Founding Editor of Cartagena and he’s reading TONIGHT at Vouched + Midwestern Gothic Present! He let me awfully interview him.

So Matt, the biography you sent me for the reading makes you sound like a pretty busy guy. Would you say you have strong time-management skills?

If by “time-management” you mean “holy crap I got sucked into a Burn Notice loop on Netflix and forgot I had to do that thing let me do it as quickly as I can before that other thing happens and dammit the dog needs to go out again,” then yes. But seriously, I’m naturally lazy, so every day is a challenge. And I don’t sleep nearly as much as I seem to want to.

That sounds stressful. Are you stressed?

Ha, right now, yes? I find myself making a lot of “to do” lists — it’s strangely soothing, even though there’s no way I’ll ever be able to get to everything on the list. It’s a way to trap all the extraneous things that aren’t writing into a sort of brain-box so that I can (hopefully) free up space to do what I love. I’m lucky to have some great friends, a great girlfriend, and a dog that loves/tolerates me. And when all else fails, there’s whiskey and sports.

To-do lists help for sure! Why is crossing things out so therapeutic?  I also recommend popping bubble wrap, if you haven’t tried it.

BUBBLE WRAP YES. Popping bubble wrap is like tickling angels. My parents just moved out of their home of 35+ years and sent me boxes full of mementos wrapped in bubble wrap. It was glorious. And I think there could be whole works of scholarship on the phenomenology of crossing out. Actually, now I want to write a story called “The Phenomenology of Crossing Out.”

You certainly should write that. Now be honest – what were you more excited about… the bubble wrap or the mementos?

Honestly, the bubble wrap. Maybe. I don’t know. I suppose there was the little blue robe I used to wear when I was four and would pretend to be the Cookie Monster at family get-togethers.

By “pretend to be the Cookie Monster” I’m assuming you mean “eat every cookie in sight.” Is that your mantra at family get-togethers? Be honest.

See, the thing most people overlook about the Cookie Monster is that he’s so intense in trying to eat the cookie, most of it falls to the ground. The whole arc of the character is a life lesson, a cautionary tale of humility and preservation and environmental awareness and good health. But yes: me like cookies.

Are you saying you’re also known for being a messy eater? Are you hungry a lot then, if the food never makes it to your mouth? That may be one of the reasons you’re so stressed.

Like the Cookie Monster, I believe the five second rule is bad science — once it’s down, it’s down.

That’s pretty cut-throat. Let’s go back to the list thing. What is the weirdest list you’ve ever made?

In my former life, I was an international trade lawyer. We had all sorts of interesting clients doing stuff all over the world. I can remember having to make a few weird lists then. Now, my weirdest lists tend to be grocery related. I’m horrible at shopping — usually put it off until odd hours of the night. So I’ll frequently find myself in line at a Bi-Lo at 1 AM in shorts and flip-flops buying strange combinations of things like apples, dog toys, and Raid.

I didn’t even know Bi-Lo’s still existed. Say, what are you most excited about for tonight’s reading?

I’ve been reading and loving the work of the other writers for a long time and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. So it’ll be great to meet everybody in person and hear some great stuff. Basically, readings are awesome and these readers are awesome and it’ll be an awesome time.

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