I don't know why I began asking authors for insults. I suppose it was a combination of self-depreciating sense of humor and an aching frustration with the typical reading where the author becomes a kind of factory worker -- handshake, smile weakly as the attendee gushes about your novel (or worse, tells you about his own novel), "To X," and... signature. I wanted to do something different. I was struck by the idea at Maggie Pouncey's reading in Brooklyn. I saw her sitting, waiting for someone to bring a book up to sign, and she seemed so approachable. So nice. Why not ask her to call me a ****? I told her about meeting Charles D'Ambrosio in Seattle a lifetime ago, claimed that his semi-insult (true story) led me to the idea of asking authors for insults (I felt that a history of asking for insults would make it somehow more acceptable), lied about having been insulted by "dozens" of authors over the years, and that was that. I've been haunting readings ever since. I'd like to get back to my own fiction eventually; for now, it's enough to enjoy other authors' work, so long as they cuss me out for doing so.
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