A (Parenthetical) Interview Between Sara Barron and Jonathan Ames

Perhaps we should say, “Someone mo’ better.”

In search of this mo’ better person, Sara Barron thought first of Jonathan Ames. Sara Barron thought first of Jonathan Ames because Sara Barron is a very big fan of Jonathan Ames. Sara Barron, however, did not want to bother Jonathan Ames; she figured Jonathan Ames was probably quite busy in his significantly mo’ better career.

And so instead of emailing and asking if he, Jonathan Ames, would like to interview her, Sara Barron, she (Sara Barron) decided to write the interview herself.

That is to say, Sara Barron sat down and wrote a series of questions to herself about herself, and then – and this is key – she wrote the corresponding answers.

Sara Barron ignored the ethical quandary that this presented, for Sara Barron was not trying to be unethical. Sara Barron was only trying to take the burden of the interview off the delicate shoulders of her mo’ better interviewer.

Sara Barron wrote the interview herself and – having done so – emailed Jonathan Ames.

Circumstances being what they were, though, she did not write, “Hi Jonathan. My name is Sara Barron. Do you, by chance, have any interest in interviewing me?”

Sara Barron did write, “Hi Jonathan. My name is Sara Barron, and I wrote an interview between me and myself. And I was wondering if you would do me the massive favor of allowing me to pretend that this interview happened, instead, between me and yourself.”

Sara Barron titled her email: “HI JONATHAN. I KNOW THIS IS PATHETIC,” which I think we can all agree is a pretty brilliant, self-aware name.

Anyway, Jonathan Ames was kind to enough to respond, and the good folks at Read It Forward were kind enough to allow Sara Barron to post his response. And so Sara Barron has posted it below.

Should you care to read it, bear in mind that Sara Barron’s words are in regular font, like this, whereas Jonathan Ames’ words are in italic font, like this.

Sara Barron hopes you like it. Jonathan Ames is slightly less concerned.

The Interview Between Sara Barron and Jonathan Ames

(Actually, it was written by Sara Barron, with parentheses by Jonathan Ames – in italics – which he added after having had the questions and the answers sent to him by Sara Barron.)

JONATHAN: A reviewer of your first book, People Are Unappealing, said you’re “a delightful combination of Saturday Night Live‘s Kristin Wiig and a frizzier-haired Lucille Ball.” How do you top that?

SARA: I’ve done lots of things to top myself. To TRY to top myself. At 27, I went through a phase of taping Band Aid’s on my nipples in lieu of wearing strapless bras. And then at 28 I farted on a subway. It was silent, thank god, but it smelled…

JONATHAN: Like sewage? (Why did you use band-aids in this way? I’m not understanding something. Also, I don’t think I would have said sewage. Maybe an old diaper, a hot dog, death . . . )

SARA: Yes! VERY much like sewage, and the weird thing was, I didn’t HAVE to take responsibility, but I did anyway! Isn’t that bizarre?! I said, “I’m sorry. That was me” to the woman sitting next to me, and the reason I did was that I was so horribly lonely at the time. I just needed someone to talk to.

JONATHAN: Sounds like a Tuesday to me. By which I mean, sounds like what I get up to pretty much EVERY Tuesday. (Untrue. I don’t have Tuesdays like that, and while, of course, I have gas, like any human being or cow, I think my sense of social shame has kept me from ever leaking any gut fermentation while on the subway.)

SARA: Yes, well, thank you for saying that. It makes me feel less alone.

JONATHAN: And how do you feel it went? (But what really is in this second book?)

SARA: You know: fine, I guess. Not great.

JONATHAN: How do you feel right now? (I guess this is supposed to be a live conversation, not an email chat since it seems very immediate.)

SARA: Fat. And depressed. How do YOU feel right now?

JONATHAN: Also fat. Also depressed. So I’m thinking, like… (I don’t feel that way. How do I feel right now? Well, I’m sort of busy typing up these responses in parentheses, so I’m not really feeling anything, but before that I was feeling sort of anxious and paranoid.)

SARA: Time to wrap it up?

JONATHAN: Indeed. (Well, thank you for sending me this interview that you wrote, and I hope you don’t mind my parenthetical comments. I wish you well with your new book. Do you think Amazon will print this, since it acknowledges that you tried to do a self-interview, claiming it to have been done by both of us? I imagine, though, that my parenthetical comments — or are they just comments in parentheses? — sort of undoes that transgression, and when I say ‘transgression’, I don’t mean that it was a really bad thing to do, but, well, it was something . . . And, now, since I’m a writer, I feel that my comments are stupid and frivolous, but maybe you’ll enjoy them and so I’ll wing this off back to you, and thank you for the nice things you said in your email to me.)

Congrats to Lynn J., Becky P., Pamela H., Kathleen M., Lawrence P., and 195 other members of the Read It Forward community! Their entries were selected at random to win an Advance Reader’s Copy of The Harm in Asking by Sara Barron.

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