Another Chicago Magazine: Were you messy as a child? We bet you were messy as a child.
Lindsay Hunter: I think I was messy, but I was also extremely particular about stuff. Like, once I threw a holy tantrum because my grandmother bought me a dress without a belt. I was 4 or something. Another time I was arranging items on my dresser so excruciatingly precisely that my mom had to tell me to stop. I was maybe 6 or 7. I’ve always had ideas and compulsions like that.
ACM: How old were you the first time you cursed? Do you recall the circumstances? Did you get into trouble?
LH: I don’t remember the first time I cursed I don’t think. I do remember riding bikes with my twin best friends and trading Shits back and forth and feeling like the queen of awesome. Once, on a family vacation, my mom yelled at me or something, and I was standing outside our cabin muttering about it and I said something like, What a bitch, to no one I thought, just said it to the forestry and the shadows, but turns out my dad heard, and he took me into one of the rooms, sat me on the bed, and grilled me. Did you call your mother [dramatic pause during which I internally fearbarfed]...a bitch? I just kept insisting that I’d said witch. He didn’t buy it I’m sure.
ACM: What is your fascination with fishing? Preferred bait? Personal record catch?
LH: Strange - I don’t think I’ve fished but once or twice. I like the word fish though. I’m also a vegetarian and it pains me to see a fish on a hook, flopping. I guess I like the idea of it though, the glittering water, the slippery life underneath, you a asshole human looking to catch dinner or prove yourself or commune with nature or what have you...I also like the idea of a tackle box and all it could hold. You could learn a lot about someone by what’s in their tackle box, especially if it’s mostly not tackle.
ACM: Grosser when stinky: ass, crotch, feet? Why?
LH: Crotch. Ass and feet are supposed to stink on occasion. If your crotch is fragrant there’s a medical issue no one wants to get near. Get you a suppository.
ACM: What is it about the short story, and for that matter, the short-short, that you find so compelling?
LH: I like making a world you can view all you need to view in a couple pages or less. It’s economic. I like how you don’t have time to sprawl, how you need to be sure you’re choosing the exact right word and putting it exactly where it should go in a sentence. The pleasure of writing, to me, is the exactitude. And I love crafting a glimpse into a character’s life, into a world. Sometimes that glimpse stays with you longer than any binocular-aided 200-page stare.
ACM: Have you ever been caught stealin’? Did you try to steal then?
LH: I once stole a neopolitan candy on a shopping trip with my mother. I was maybe 5. I showed it to her in the parking lot and she marched me back inside to give it back and apologize. I remember being confused, like why couldn’t I just take it? There were tons of other times when I’d steal with my friends, but I didn’t get caught. Once, when I was visiting my cousins, we broke into a tiny general store and stole candy. I think we even broke the window to get in. Then we broke into the church and rang the bell. Just bored is all.
ACM: What is your approach to performance?
LH: My approach is to entertain. I hate being bored and I hate watching people read their stories like they’d rather be anywhere else but have to drone on and bestow this gift upon you first. I get excited before a reading, and nervous as hell, and I can feel the audience crackling around me, and I want to reach them with my story, I want them to get excited too, I want them to listen up and hear me. And if you’re having fun reading a story, the audience will probably have fun listening. That doesn’t mean your story has to be funny, not at all.
ACM: Dogs, cats, both, or neither? Why?
LH: I love all animals on this earth and if I was mauled by a leopard tomorrow my ghost would come back and declare that it was all my fault. I have a beloved dog, Lulubelle, who’s been my soulmate for 8 years, and I make it a point to meet every dog I come across. I’d have a dozen dogs if we had the apartment space, and cats too, if Lulu wouldn’t eat them at first sight.
ACM: What is the biggest misconception that people about white trash culture that you think is total bullshit?
LH: That white trash people are stupid, that they are glaze-eyed dummies with no inner lives.
ACM: What is the biggest cliche about white trash culture that you think is spot on?
LH: That they love camouflage.
ACM: Do you think that hosting the Quickies series has left a mark on your work?
LH: Yeah, for sure. You learn pretty quick what kind of sentences are boring to read out loud and what kind are fun to read out loud. It helps you be a better writer, reading your shit aloud to people. And maybe what I take from that brief time in my life when I thought I was a poet is the sound of words, and how they sound strung together, is just as important as their meanings.
ACM: What is it like meeting the challenge of preparing a new piece for each Quickies?
LH: I love it. Deadlines like that are necessary for me. I love constraints and pressures and demands--I do some of my best work that way. Once, I waited until the night before a reading to write something for it, and I destroyed my living room out of fear and anguish, and then I sat right down and it poured out of me. I also have this odd self-imposed mandate that I cannot read anything I’ve read before at a Quickies. It has to be new each time, or else I’m a cheater and a fraud. That’s just the challenge I want to meet I guess.
ACM: Do you sometimes know right away that a story is going to be better read aloud? Or on the page? Or are the two one and the same, really?
LH: I think they’ve become one and the same for me. A while ago I got obsessed with the idea that I couldn’t write something just for the page, like I’m a live audience addict and everything I write is tainted by that, and therefore I’m a joke, and so I made myself write stories just because, like stories I wasn’t writing for an upcoming reading or something, to see if I still had it. It was a huge relief when that first story got done. And then I went ahead and read it at a Quickies. Guess I showed me.
ACM: Twister or Limbo?
LH: Fuck both of those. Nimble is not in my wheelhouse. If there is a jut I will slam my head into it. I cannot touch my toes. I am knock-kneed.
ACM: What’s your biggest guilty pleasure when it comes to music?
LH: Adult contemporary. God, I love it so. I’m talking Hall & Oates, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Winwood. There’s a radio station back home, 98.9 WMMO, and they do not fuck around when it comes to lighting your life up with a/c music. Time for. A cool change. I know that it’s time. For a cool change. A cool change, what the hell is that? I don’t care, it’s wonderful.
ACM: There is a lot of eating and tons of food mentioned in your stories. What are some of your favorite things to eat in the following genres (Genres in bold, Lindsay’s answers follow):
Junkfood: candy candy candy candy candy candy candy Doritos candy
Cuisine: Olive Garden
Pub Grub: jalapeno poppers, anything with the word “battered,” not onion rings though, slimyass disappointments that
Mommafood: breakfast burritos, egg sandwiches, cream cheese dip
Ima make me a real nice meal: always pasta. Pasta is like a steak for me. I also enjoy a veggie burger on a pretzel bun
with some onion, tomato, avocado. Wine in a jelly jar. And dessert must follow dinner or else the whole thing is a huge
If you make me this meal you might get to 2nd base: anyone that cooks for me, I’ll give it up pretty easily. A good
friend made me a spicy peanut butter sandwich once and I wanted to cry. My dream would be for someone to make me
some truly southern macaroni and cheese and a big vat of sweet tea.
ACM: If you were King of Chicago, what would be your first act upon assuming the throne?
LH: Put up a wind wall. Delete snow. Get rid of those pay-for-parking things. Demand a ribbon dance from a constituent, every day.
ACM: Speaking of thrones, what’s your favorite petname for the toilet?
LH: The crapper. Hombre. Toids.
ACM: Best oldschool wrestling association: WWF or NWA or AWA
LH: WWF all the way. I watched Summer Slam religiously when I was a kid. Huge crush on Bret Hart.
ACM: What is something that an old man once told you that you have never forgotten?
LH: About 7 years ago my grandpa told me he was “in the zone,” meaning he was in that chunk of time when all his friends were dying, and when he’d accepted that his time was nearing as well. It shocked me to hear him say it. He’s still alive. I think about it a lot, I hope I can be that calm, have that kind of grace about death one day too.
Also when I was little that same grandpa told me he didn’t know everything and I was shocked. I figured by the time you were old you knew everything.
ACM: Do you have groupies?
LH: I don’t think so. I’ve never met them if I do. No one’s offered me any sexual favors or wanted to stroke my hair or something. However Tim Jones-Yelvington told me he wanted me to don a strap-on and tend to his sexual needs, but I think he just said that because he knows I’d probably do it.
ACM: Do you pray?
LH: All the time. Mostly to say thank you or express gratitude. Or when I need to be reminded that my problems aren’t all that goddamn interesting.