Writer George Saunders on Gogol, his current love for Hollywood cinema, and lots and lots of money.
What do you do: Write short stories, and novels that soon give up the ghost and shrink down into short stories.
Favorite book: Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol; Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel.
Heroes: George Orwell, Muhammad Ali, Tobias Wolff, Michael Herr, Toni Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Samuel Beckett.
What makes you laugh: Watching Hollywood trailers for movies with names like ‘Deadly Composite Domestic Menace,’ which might concern, say, an innocent young child who finds out that her mother and father and sisters and brothers are all robots intent on killing her and no one will believe her except this one teacher at school, who it turns out is actually a werewolf, and not only that, but there is a ticking bomb inplanted in the skull of the werewolf, and the only way to defuse it is for the little girl to massacre the family next door by beating them to death with her own dog. What makes me laugh is that this passes for art in this day and age and that nobody in the nodding sleeping crowd that forks over their/our hard-earned money to see crap like this seems to consider that the total absence of humor and compassion and hope that it takes to make this slop takes a huge toll, on the watcher, on the maker, and on the culture. Haw haw haw.
Charity worth giving to: The Shyalpa Monastery/Nunnery Project. A project to educate Tibetan refugee children in Nepal.
Five words that sound good: Here/is/one/million/George.