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The Nervous Breakdown: Self Interview

Date: Jan 5 2012

Sara Levine: The TNB Self-Interview by
05 January 2012 Could you describe your novel?

No, thank you. I’m done making that mistake.


Whoa.  All right.

I think of that as your job.  My job was to write it.


Who do you think I am?

I don’t know, but not the novelist.


That brings me to my next question.  Are you as insufferable and narcissistic as the narrator of TREASURE ISLAND!!!?

Oh, the autobiographical question! You could write pages of densely-wrought, meticulous sentences—I’m not saying I did; I’m just saying theoretically one could—and instead of paying attention to the thing as a literary artifact, people just want to squeeze it like a pimple, trying to find that personal pus. Listen, lady, I’m going to disappoint you. I have absolutely nothing in common with the narrator of TREASURE ISLAND!!!.  I’m on the other side of the moral divide. I’m a nice person who just happens to write about other people’s hideousness.


Nabokov said about his own beastly characters, “They are outside my inner self like the mournful monsters of a cathedral façade—demons placed there merely to show they have been booted out.”

Exactly. I was about to say that.


All the same, aren’t you worried people will think she is you?



I also wanted to ask you about the book’s title.  I spent a long time thinking about this—just now, as I typed the question—and I suspect the title alludes to the narrator’s inability to get past paraphrase. And the excessive exclamation points relate to her inescapable girliness.  Women tend to enthuse more openly than men. They really do write with excessive exclamation points.  And in emails, they use a lot more emoticons than men.

I would never say that. I’m appalled by such stereotypical thinking.


And the title misled me; I thought there’d be more in your book about pirates and sword fighting.

There’s fighting, though.

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