Interview with the author: Matthew Thompson


Varnish, nostalgia, the obsolete. “On: The Nothings” exists in its own place and time. There may be television, but it’s the grandfather’s television. How does anachronism come into play?

I like the idea of anachronisms. I’m also real skeptical of nostalgia and folks who romanticize the past as better, or lovelier, or more genuine than the present. What I’m curious about is the stuff people throw away. Because people throw away so much stuff! So, so much. And this makes things real knotty and interesting since the bonds we create with inanimate objects are strong, especially when those objects give the illusion of personality, like a television.

I can’t remember the names of the goldfish I had as a boy. I can tell you how upset I was one afternoon after I buried my Egon Spengler action figure deep in the sandbox and failed to dig him back up. The emotional baggage we attach to things does not break down well. It collects and grows, goes along to the dump, drags behind through the ocean.

 

There are hints of a larger frame story, but nothing really to latch onto, with or without the “klik.” What else is this narrator up to?

Too much. I wrote this story after I read a book about Montaigne. He seemed to be a man completely bewildered by everything, and captivated by that bewilderment, and all he could do was write his way through his bewilderment. I can relate to this approach. As can the narrator, I think.

 

I see that you, like many writers, are a runner. Two questions, both obvious, maybe. What link is there, if any, between the two? Have you read Murakami’s book on running? Thoughts?

I don’t know if there is a link. Running for me is just a way to think about not thinking for a while, which is important to my writing. There are lessons I’ve learned from running that greatly influence my work – patience, pacing, daydreaming, focus –but you can find these lessons elsewhere, in other activities. The important thing is seeking out these activities and using them the way marathoners use cross-training to keep from burning out.

Because, Christ, writing can be a monotonous life. Sometimes you need to get up and run and get the blood pumping back into your brain.

As for Murakami, I have indeed read his book. “I run to acquire a void” is one of the more beautiful thoughts I’ve ever come across.

 

This question comes from Nicolle Elizabeth: Do you believe everything you write?

Oh, no. Well, maybe. It depends on what you mean by “believe.” I have a hard time believing in most things. If you asked me, “Do you believe every word you write should be there, has to be there, cannot be anywhere else?” I would say, “Usually, yes.”

But then there are mornings where it feels as if two televisions are playing and I’m just the nonsense sentence streaming out between the two.

 

Matthew, you don’t know who or what we’re publishing after you. Or maybe you do. Never mind. What question should I ask?

Is music related to your writing?