Thursday, July 10, 2008

Interview with Kerry Cohen, Continued

Interview with Kerry Cohen, Part 2

How do you handle negative comments (do you cry, rage or blow it off)?

You mean comments about Loose Girl, I'm assuming... When I first got negative comments, it really messed me up. I don't know why I didn't expect any of it; I think I'm just naive about such things. But at first I felt awful. I mean, I'm still the girl in that book. I'm confident in some ways, but I'm also insecure and self-doubting, like anyone else. I also get really bothered at the idea that there are people out there who scramble to put negative things into the world, who try to tear down other people rather than look at themselves. It's an ugly part of our culture.

At this point I mostly try not to look because I know I just don't have the ego strength to not be affected, and the bottom line is that not everyone is going to like me, or my work, or the things I have to say. Meanwhile, I get so many amazing, intimate, beautiful comments from readers, I allow those to buoy me.

What book did you last read?

I read tons of memoirs and I recently finished A Wolf at the Table by Augusten Burroughs. It was...okay. I really like Burroughs, but he brings up the question of how many memoirs one can squeeze out of one's life before it becomes more self-gratifying than anything else. In my mind, the greatest aspect of memoir is its ability - above all other genres - to form a relationship with its readers. Memoirs create intimacy between writer and reader. I didn't feel that from his latest book.

What is your idea of a perfect day?

My perfect day would start after a solid, uninterrupted nine hours of sleep, something I rarely get these days. Then I would write - really well! - for five or six hours. Next I would maybe take a walk or hang out with my sweet boys, who would be in good moods, with no whining or irrational demands. I'd have dinner with my husband and maybe a friend or two and some good wine. And the boys would actually get to sleep early, leaving time alone for my husband and me to just talk. As you can see, my life is pretty boring these days, and I like it that way.

What is your next book about?

I'm at work on a second memoir. It's about the journey my family has gone through in coming to terms with my older son's special needs. He is diagnosed PDD-NOS, which puts him on the autistic spectrum. I'm interested in how accepting him and all his wonderful ways of being in the world, as well as his limitations, have been a reflection of - and instructive about - my own limitations, both as a mother and in my ability to have intimacy post-loose-girl years.

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