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No! I’m very proud of my paranoia.
I don’t know how I feel about my paranoia. But knowing that you’ll always have to exist at the favor of a larger culture that could, in a moment, destroy you and everything you’ve ever loved or cared for is probably an inherited Jewish trait. Not biologically, but temperamentally. Some Jews don’t feel that way.
I guess it’s conceivable that there are some Jews who don’t feel that way. I haven’t ever met one, but —
They get old and feel secure. But as a fiction writer, I think you’d agree that feeling secure is death to your work.
Feeling secure is so far away from my experience of the world that I can’t even imagine what that is.
But you’d agree that it’s not good for your work.
It’s not good for your work, no. And it’s an inherent lie of the human condition.
Well, it’s very seductive.
But it’s never true. I feel like my life is one giant problem.
If you’re a culturally Jewish writer, what else goes on the writer medal you wear on your chest?
Besides Jewishness? A certain kind of pessimism that could be considered an element of Jewishness, and a dualism between this Midwesternism and this New Yorkism. When I’m in the Midwest, everybody thinks I’m the most New York person they’ve ever met, and when I’m in New York, I feel very much tied to the Midwest.
What about stylistically?
See, this is how I feel a kinship with Jewishness. There’s a kind of reasoning of thought, a lawyerly demeanor, that I feel like you and I share. I identify this as being a particularly Jewish way of engaging with the world.