Seattle Novelist Ryan Boudinot Wishes He Could Shred on Guitar.

By BookNerd August 2, 2009

Ryan Boudinot has been called the "Dr. Frankenstein of short fiction" and "a new and dangerous cross between Vonnegut and Barthelme." He was recently chosen as a Writer-in-Residence for Richard Hugo House, and his first novel, Misconception , comes out next month.


A good sport, Boudinot responded speedily to this inaugural BookNerd Vanity Fair Questionnaire.

BookNerd: What is the principal aspect of your personality?

Ryan Boudinot: Endurance.

BookNerd: What's the last sentence you read and fell in love with?

Boudinot: "Except that is just highly silly when you think about what I said before concerning the fact that the Bad Thing is really" David Foster Wallace, "The Planet Trillaphon as it Stands in Relation to The Bad Thing" in the new Tin House . That's really how the sentence ends, in the middle, with no period. This floored me.

BookNerd: What's the last book you bought?

Boudinot: Selah Saterstrom's The Pink Institution .

BookNerd: What's the last book you read?

Boudinot: 2666 by Roberto Bolano.

BookNerd: What is your favorite place in Seattle?

Boudinot: I like Georgetown as a neighborhood, Elliott Bay Book Company as a store, Seward as a park.

BookNerd: What is your favorite place in the world?

Boudinot: My library.

BookNerd: What about Seattle do you like the most?

Boudinot: Right now it would have to be the light rail. I live a five minute walk from the Othello station.

BookNerd: What about Seattle bugs you?

Boudinot: No one honks his or her horn in traffic.

BookNerd: What skill would you most like to have?

Boudinot: I wish I could shred on guitar. I can play chords, but soloing remains an elusive skill.

BookNerd: What song gets stuck in your head?

Boudinot: "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys. When I was little it was "Duke of Earl," incessantly.

BookNerd: What quality do you most like in a man?

Boudinot: The ability to wrestle bears.

BookNerd: In a woman?

Boudinot: Prowess with the crossbow.

BookNerd: In a writer?

Boudinot: Gumminess.

BookNerd: What quality do you most like in a politician?

Boudinot: The texture of flowing lava.

BookNerd: What quality do you least like in a person?

Boudinot: Chewiness.

BookNerd: Who are your fictional heroes?

Boudinot: Oedipa Maas, Charles Foster Kane, Beowulf, Molloy, Don Gately.

BookNerd: Who are your real-life heroes?

Boudinot: Henry Darger, Bruno Schulz, the Beatles.

BookNerd: Which word or phrase do you overuse?

Boudinot: "Halogen-lit"

BookNerd: What writing platitude drives you insane?

Boudinot: Show don't tell.

BookNerd: What book do we all need to go read right now?

Boudinot: Interviews with Francis Bacon , by David Sylvester.

BookNerd: What's the weirdest thing anyone's said about one of your books?

Boudinot: I read an excerpt of my novel in public recently, and a guy came up afterward and said, "Hey, I used to look at my own sperm under a microscope, too!"

BookNerd: If you were to die and come back, what would you be?

Boudinot: Jesus. No, that's not the answer. I was using it in reaction to the question; I'm just stumped.

BookNerd: What will people say about you when you die?

Boudinot: Oh my god! Someone call 911!

BookNerd: If you were meeting someone for the first time in a public place, how would you tell them to recognize you?

Boudinot: I'll be wearing a gray sweatshirt.

BookNerd: Who or what is your one true love?

Boudinot: Besides my wife Jen?
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