The WRITE Questions with Thaddeus Rutkowski

March 31, 2009

1. What was the last book you read? What are you reading now?

I actually don't read much for my own pleasure. I'm the fiction editor for a literary magazine, Many Mountains Moving
(based in Denver), and I teach a fiction writing workshop for adults at
a YMCA in Manhattan, so reading those manuscripts keeps me busy.

But I recently read The Romanian, by Bruce Benderson, and American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang. The setting of The Romanian
(much of it takes place in Budapest) interested me because I gave some
readings in Budapest in the fall. Also, the book is the story of a
difficult, almost unimaginable relationship, between an American who is
perceived as wealthy and a young, straight Romanian man working the
streets for money. You read to see how it all plays out. I liked American Born Chinese
because I like graphic novels in general, and this book does a good job
of combining a personal story of immigration with timeless stories from
Chinese myth. Surprisingly, the parts add up for powerful effect.

I'm now reading Prague,
by Arthur Phillips. Again, much of it takes place in Budapest, but the
characters want to leave Budapest and go to Prague. I've never been to
Prague. What's up there? I'm also reading Evanescent Isles,
by Xu Xi, about the author's birthplace, Hong Kong. I was in Hong Kong
a couple of weeks ago for a literary festival, and the book is helping
me understand the city.

2. Do you identify as an Asian American writer?  Why or why not?.

do identify myself as an Asian American writer, though I grew up with a
confused sense of who I was. I was a kid with a Chinese mother in
middle America, so my culture was U.S. television, and my background
was almost a dream, heard secondhand from a parent who was learning a
new language. Still, in my adult life, the Asian part has overshadowed
the Polish part (my father was born in the U.S. and didn't speak
Polish). I've tried identifying as Polish -- don't get me wrong -- but I'm
still waiting for that to kick in.

3. Do you have a blog? If yes, how does it affect your own writing. If not, why not?

afraid I can't say much about blogs. (I know that's not good,
considering these answers are for a blog.) I don't have a blog. I have
a website, which I
invite everyone to visit. And I have a small notebook, which isn't for
sharing. However, if I had a blog, I'm sure the text on it would inform
my own writing, probably in significant ways. My experience is the
basis for my creative work, and I'm coming to realize that my approach
is more autobiographical than many authors'.

4. What websites do you frequent?

use Web sites mostly for research, as opposed to news or commentary.
That is, I use them in my work as a copy editor (that's my day job).
But for fun, yesterday I looked at Ed Lin's blog.
I really like the energetic voice on that site, plus I appreciate Ed's
knowledge of punk rock, Korean food and, of course, contemporary
literature. I have read a number of record reviews on Pitchfork,
and I've read some good poetry on a blog by a poet friend, Stan Marcus.
Of course, I check on the site for the magazine I volunteer for, Many Mountains Moving. It has some original content, like the winning story from the latest flash fiction contest. I guess I have some catching up to do in the tech world.