Archive for June, 2011

Junk Talk Interview with Ned Vizzini, author of, It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Posted in authors with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2011 by Holly Huckeba

kindfunnystory

Ned Vizzini is the author of TEEN ANGST? NAAAH…, a collection of personal essays about high school, many of which were published by the New York Press. He went on to write a young adult fiction novel, BE MORE CHILL and several years later he wrote another novel, IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY, which was later made into a major motion picture (pictured). FUNNY STORY is a work of fiction, but it’s largely based on Vizzini’s own experience with mental illness, suicidal ideation and a week spent in a psychiatric hospital when he was 23 years old. Most recently, he has released a limited-edition comic he wrote while in high school, UNCLE TUMBA, the tale of a septuagenarian monk and his pet pig ($2 on Etsy).

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Junk interviewed Ned Vizzini about his high school comics project, his current efforts to educate about mental illness, and writing fiction and memoir.

Holly Huckeba for Junk Talk: In your senior year at Stuyvesant High School, you applied for early admission to Harvard and landed an interview with admissions staff. Your comic, UNCLE TUMBA, may have played a role in the eventual outcome of that interview, with the chief criticism leveled against UNCLE TUMBA being its use of profanity and other naughty bits. When you look back at that interview and your decision to try and sell UNCLE TUMBA to the interviewers, what do you think is the “lesson learned”? If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything, either creatively (content) or politically (the interview)? Or would you do it all exactly the same?

Ned Vizzini: The lesson learned is that you shouldn’t be too interesting in your college interviews. I wanted to get into Harvard, so of course I felt stupid that I tried to sell UNCLE TUMBA and basically got this look from my interviewers like, “This guy’s weird.” What can I say—it was my Italian peddler heritage. If I could go back and do it again, I’d change the content and curb my entrepreneurship, but thankfully I can’t.

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Barfly On The Wall by Joe Bonomo

Posted in journal updates with tags , , , , , on June 15, 2011 by The Editors

Junk presents, Barfly on the Wall, an essay by the esteemed Joe Bonomo. When this piece came across our desks, we jumped up and down and hugged one another. Okay, not really jumping up and down. But we were very excited.

Some writers romanticize the hard life of the addict. Still many other writers have lived this difficult life. And sometimes these writers are one and the same person. But not Joe Bonomo. He’s got a story all his own. We’re tickled pink that Mr. Bonomo has entrusted Junk with Barfly On The Wall, an extraordinary piece of memoir.

See for yourself.

A Toast to Brenda Miller

Posted in favorites with tags , , , on June 13, 2011 by The Editors

 

At the beginning of Brenda Miller’s essay, “Our Daily Toast,” she sums it up:

Okay, I admit it: I have an unhealthy preoccupation with toast. Do I eat toast socially? Yes. Do I eat toast when alone? Yes. Do I lie about my toast consumption? Yes. Do I hide the evidence of toast consumption? Yes, Yes. Do I make up lame excuses for toast consumption? Why yes, yes I do.

Miller won the coveted Pushcart Prize for this essay, and we think it well deserved. We’d also like to point out that though some may say that this essay is a reflection the author’s relationships as viewed through the lens of toast, it might also be said more plainly (sans nuts, spices, fancy grains, or fats) that this essay is an examination of the author’s decades long addiction to toast.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. Plenty of people, present company included, do battle with this particular addiction day in and day out. In fact, we would venture to say that a day without toast is like a day without sunshine. Never mind we don’t actually see much of the sun in the Pacific Northwest. We still know if it’s there or not. So, don’t mess with our toast.

Honestly, though, Junk loves this piece, which extols the many and varied virtues of toast, and invites the reader to consider their own life spent in the grainy company of the toasted loaf. We’re happy to bite, and we hope you’ll nosh along.

Read Brenda Miller’s “Our Daily Toast.”

Want a little Sugar in your Junk?

Posted in editor's corner with tags , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2011 by Editors

Junk loves “Dear Sugar,” an advice column published every Thursday in The Rumpus. We love “Dear Sugar” because it is well-written, funny, raunchy, and it often makes us cry. Sugar charms us with her confidence. She woos us with eff bombs tossed into the same sentences as endearments such as “dearie” and “sweetpea.” But we love her the most when she cops to her personal junk, telling us stories about her life in order to connect with us. Her stories inform her perspective, and more than any other single variable, perspective is what gives “Dear Sugar” its punch. That’s when the sparks really fly.

And we’re not the only ones who think so.

Recently, “Dear Sugar” appeared in The Sun literary magazine. In the June 2011 edition, The Sun published a compilation of four of Sugar’s columns from The Rumpus as a stand-alone essay. Talk about art meeting life!

Sugar is a pseudonym, the author’s identity a closely guarded secret. But we know that she’s married with two kids, has had sex with both men and women, done heroin, suffered abuse from her father, worked as a counselor with at-risk youth, and that she writes “like a motherfucker.” Her writing reveals her to be ageless: youthful in her indiscretions, ancient in her wisdom.

Meanwhile, Sugar is at work on a book-length memoir under her real name, which may mean that very soon, the identity of Sugar will be revealed to her many admirers. At Junk, we are excited to read her memoir, but, frankly, we’re just as eager to read next Thursday’s column, because even though her identity is currently protected with Guantanamo Bay level security (and her identity interests us just as much as the next reader), we believe Sugar tells us everything we really need to know about herself in her weekly column.

Want a little Sugar with your Junk? Read more here.

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