by Gabino Iglesias
I’ve been lucky enough to meet outstanding people who are as obssesed with books as I am. Author/editor/Publisher/designer/madman Michael J Seidlinger is one of them. Seidlinger lives for books and talking literature with him is a pleasure, just like reading his work. I’ve sent him books and he’s sent me books, but I’d never seen his stacks. Here they are, along with some great answers.
Who are you and what role do books play in your life?
My name is Michael J Seidlinger and I have a problem with books. To be more specific, books have consumed my life. Life revolves around the sentence and making sure it leads me to the best narratives, the best ideas, and the best brand of liquor. I don’t know how to live without books flanking me from all sides. To be even more specific, I’m a writer (The Laughter of Strangers, My Pet Serial Killer, The Sky Conducting), publisher (Civil Coping Mechanisms), and designer (book design, typesetting, website design).
You edit, design covers, have great social media presence, acquire manuscripts, read a lot of books, write reviews, etc. However, you’re primarily a writer: how do you make sure that writing takes precedence over everything else?
I’m ruthless—I am my own worst enemy. I forge unrealistic goals and drink gallons of coffee to stay up late at night. It typically begins with a 2000 word goal for the day and gravitates towards content editing every couple of pages. I’ll often return to the day’s writing once or twice before being satisfied and, as a result, allowed to sleep. Writing becomes the item that determines whether or not I have made good use of the day. Actually, I’d say that there’s no such thing as a good day until I am able to hit that word count and know where the narrative is going in the days and weeks to follow. Probably sounds insane. Yeah, definitely sounds nuts. Well then, what’s next?
I know you hate doing lists so…what are some of your favorite 2013 readings?
I’m fine with lists. How about favorite 2013 books since I think readings are almost always a waste of time (I go only to hang out and mingle with friends).
Books I enjoyed in 2013 (random order):
Mira Corpora by Jeff Jackson
No One Writes Back by Eunjin Jang
Basal Ganglia by Matthew Revert
Damnation by Janice Lee
This Is Between Us by Kevin Sampsell
The Last Days of California by Mary Miller
Happy Rock by Matthew Simmons
Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan
Taipei by Tao Lin
I Don’t Know I Said by Matthew Savoca
Fun Camp by Gabe Durham
Haute Surveillance by Johannes Goransson
Motherfucking Sharks by Brian Allen Carr
The list goes on, seriously. These were merely a few books that showed up without too much trouble when I returned to my Goodreads profile. I feel like there are almost always a handful of books I should be reading instead of the one in my hands and yet I can’t help but continue looking around, trying to figure out what those books might be.
You keep some books and give others away. Why is that and what kind of books stay on your shelves?
I have a tendency to never stay in one place for too long, be it moving to a different state or merely relocating to a different building. This means I need to remain a minimalist. I don’t own anything I don’t need to be happy. I have a bed, a few pieces of furniture, clothes, a guitar, TV, some videogames, and tons of books. That’s it. Above all, the books take up the most space and, as a result, the inner minimalist in me abides by a rule:
If the book doesn’t floor me, it doesn’t earn a spot on the shelf.
Most of the time I keep my books in boxes due to a lack of space but you get the point. I keep only those books I’ll return to simply because the reading experience reminded me, once again, of the beauty of literature. Books like Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson, Post Office by Charles Bukowski, The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, or, as you can tell in the picture I provided, Death on the Installment Plan by Louis-Ferdinand Celine.
What’s your last book about and why should we run and buy it?
Lazy Fascist Press published my latest this past November; it’s called “The Laughter of Strangers” and it pertains to a down-and-out professional boxer named Willem Floures facing the inevitability of aging. He is struggling to remain the current and “most noteworthy” version of himself. The book takes place in a world much like our own; it’s a world where fighting to win means fighting yourself. You must face the versions of yourself that chose differently. You fight to best yourself and, hopefully, be the version that is left standing when all is said and done. This is a story about the version that had it all and yet still wants more, Willem wants to keep fighting and is willing to do whatever it takes to do that, even if it means losing it all in the process.
You don’t have to read it. There are so many other books to choose from. But if you end up buying the book and, even better, end up enjoying it, I want you to know that you made this psychopath happy.