• The LARB Questionnaire Interviews Avidly

    This week, LARB’s channel Avidly celebrates its third birthday.  In honor of the occasion, Avidly editors Sarah Blackwood and Sarah Mesle sat down to respond to the LARB questionnaire.


    How do you get up in the morning?

    We get up twice, once on EST then on PST. Children screaming us out of bed on both coasts.

    Do you succumb to nostalgia?


    Do you write long and cut, or short and backfill?

    We cut the first paragraph. Always.

    How do you feel about your Wikipedia entry?

    We feel you should start one.

    Lunch with any three people who ever lived; who do you invite?

    Can’t decide on this one b/c got caught up imagining Martha Graham and Nathaniel Hawthorne eating cucumber sandwiches.

    Best piece of advice you ever received?

    We are constantly advising each other: Yes. Done. Stop. Yes. Good enough!

     Disciplined or hot dog?

    French fries and champagne

     Have you ever been defeated by a genre?

    We periodically have a hard time embedding video links, yes.

    Which classic author would you like to see kicked out of the pantheon?

    It’s not that we want to kick someone out, it’s that we want to include lamb birthing seminars.

    Are you okay with blood?

    Women, duh.

    Who is your imagined audience? Does it at all coincide with the real one?

    The other Sarah’s face in the video chat window up in the corner of the screen.

    What country would you want to be exiled in?

    Just so long as it’s the same one.

     What’s your favorite negative emotion?

    So many!

    Is your study neat, or, like John Muir’s, is your desk and floor covered in “lateral, medial, and terminal moraines”?

    Sarah B is a Capricorn and Sarah M is an Aquarius and this is literally the only way to tell them apart. Related: Sarah B periodically cleans out her email and Sarah M NEVER DOES.

    What is your go-to shoe?

    No real consensus here, agree only on cowboy boots.

    What’s your poison?


    What’s your problem?

    EROOOH (Eyes, Rolling Out Of Our Heads)

    Title of the book you’re probably never going to write, but would kind of like to get around to?

    Recently shared a Google Doc with each other literally titled “JOYFUL DIALOGUE”

    What are you so afraid of?

    Running out of black tank tops.

    Do you require a high thread count?

    YES. We prefer white sheets.

    Who reads you first?  

    Pete Coviello, Charter Member.

    Sexy and dangerous, or brilliant and kind?


     What character or story haunts you?

    “If only Mrs Seton and her mother and her mother before her had learnt the great art of making money and had left their money, like their fathers and their grandfathers before them, to found fellowships and lectureships and prizes and scholarships appropriated the use of their own sex, we might have dined very tolerably up here alone off a bird and a bottle of wine; we might have looked forward without undue confidence to a pleasant and honourable lifetime spent in the shelter of one of the liberally endowed professions. We might have been exploring or writing; mooning about the venerable places of the earth; sitting contemplative on the steps of the Parthenon, or going at ten to an office and coming home comfortably at half-past four to write a little poetry. Only, if Mrs Seton and her like had gone into business at the age of fifteen, there would have been — that was the snag in the argument — no Mary. What, I asked, did Mary think of that? There between the curtains was the October night, calm and lovely, with a star or two caught in the yellowing trees. Was she ready to resign her share of it and her memories (for they had been a happy family, though a large one) of games and quarrels up in Scotland, which she is never tired of praising for the fineness of its air and the quality of its cakes, in order that Fernham might have been endowed with fifty thousand pounds or so by a stroke of the pen? For, to endow a college would necessitate the suppression of families altogether. Making a fortune and bearing thirteen children–no human being could stand it. Consider the facts, we said. First there are nine months before the baby is born. Then the baby is born. Then there are three or four months spent in feeding the baby. After the baby is fed there are certainly five years spent in playing with the baby. You cannot, it seems, let children run about the streets. People who have seen them running wild in Russia say that the sight is not a pleasant one. People say, too, that human nature takes its shape in the years between one and five. If Mrs Seton, I said, had been making money, what sort of memories would you have had of games and quarrels? What would you have known of Scotland, and its fine air and cakes and all the rest of it? But it is useless to ask these questions, because you would never have come into existence at all.”

    Does plot matter?

    More than most things.

    Does age matter?


    Do you prefer to write standing, or must you lie prone in a field of dandelions with a steno pad and a good pen? Or what?

    Simultaneous GoogleDoc-ing 4EVAH

    Who is the author you’d most like to impersonate online?


    What’s the question or questions we should have asked, had we known?

    Q: What’s your favorite thing? A: This.