A writer of impeccable talent and an impressive resumé, Porchista Khakpour is the author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects (Grove/Atlantic, 2007) and The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury, 2014). She’s been nominated for a Pushcart Prize as well as multiple other prizes and honors throughout her career. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind on Twitter, and is of a breed of writer that is relentless in forever being in a state of becoming in terms of her craft. Though this quiz is meant to focus in on “indie-writers,” Porchista caught our eye as a writer worth noting. Plus, we just really wanted to pick her brain about movies and music.
Read her answers to our questions below.
1. What was the last book you read? Did you like it or nah?
Smith Henderson’s Fourth of July Creek. It was good in a way that made me both want to stop writing and do more writing. Go for the plot, stay for the syntax and diction — dude can write the shit out of a sentence.
2. Thoughts on David Foster Wallace or Jonathan Franzen?
DFW on the streets, DFW in the sheets. He was always a favorite of mine — I’m one of those obsessives. As for Franzen, I don’t mind his recent views as much as most people and I loved Strong Motion and The Corrections. What is the point of denying he is a great writer? I don’t need to hang out with the guy.
3. What are your writing habits?
4. How do you party? How often?
I’m not going to lie: I like parties. But I teach a lot and have a dog and so I can’t really go all out as I used to, which is good. For so many reasons.
5. Any writer you want to give a shout out to?
Lidia Yuknavitch, who is an out-of-this-world mystic genius and a great supporter and lover of people I love. Amber Sparks and Lincoln Michel would also have my vote as student-body-something — I rarely disagree with them and when I do, I always learn something.
6. Last show you went to?[laughs] Shows! Unlocking the Truth, the kiddie metal geniuses, for a SPIN magazine story I did two summers ago. This question makes me want to cry, why do I live this way, I used to live for and cover music…
7. Band you’re currently obsessed with?
I only listen to very old stuff unless it’s for my running mix but now I don’t even run anymore. Running mix had a lot of Sia, Robyn, Lana Del Rey, Wild Belle, Beyoncé, Kanye. At home I listen to Johnny Cash, Burzum, all Will Oldham projects, Roy Orbison, Danzig, Whitesnake — I like dark emotional men. Newish stuff I love: Kendrick Lamar, Odd Future stuff.
8. Last time you made a mixtape? Who was it for?
Um 1993, my friend Maria. I was more a receiver than a giver of those, sorry to say.
9. Unknown band you think everyone should know about?
Blaze Foley. Not unknown, but not known enough. Dead Texan singer-songwriter with wild lyrics and a voice like the sort of angel that hangs out in hell.
10. As you get older, do you care more or less about discovering new music?
Less, I guess. I care less about everything? What a sad question.
11. David Lynch or Charlie Kaufman?
But if not: Charlie Kaufman on the streets, David Lynch in the sheets. (How can I pick one? I love them both dearly.)
12. If you could have one TV show be put on Netflix, what would it be?
13. Can anyone compete with Kanye West? Can Kanye compete with Kanye?
No Kanye but Kanye (I love him).
14. Last movie you saw? Did you like it or nah?
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night — Persian vampire western could not be more made for me. Loved it!
15. Greatest film of all time?
16. Is it really worth it to be a writer? What would you rather do instead?
17. Which Internet friend are you most proud of?
Mark Leyner and I have never met but we bonded over loving something Heiko Julien (who is also an Internet friend of sorts) wrote many years ago and he’s been really lovely and supportive of me in many ways. I’ve always loved his work so that was exciting!
18. Any words for the haters?
Many of you are too attractive for that. Not all. Many. Motivating, nonetheless.
19. Should every writer’s goal be, ‘be more like Stephen Dixon?’
He was my mentor at Johns Hopkins, a big reason I went there and even published — I love the man so much. His work just kills me. I don’t think Stephen Dixon himself would recommend himself, but I’m gonna go with YES.
20. If the Internet were to shutdown tomorrow, forever, would life go on or would you be in a hopeless state of panic?
At first I would be one of the deer that lingers on the side of the highway late at night and then jumps into traffic and busts up some station wagon, but later I’d just be in a bunny frolicking in a meadow — internet, what internet? Look: flowers, sun, sky, fucking buttercups!
Interview by Trevor L. Sensor. Follow him on Twitter @trevorsensor.