I recently interviewed Matthew Savoca about his new novel, I Don’t Know, I Said, among other topics. It was the greatest interview of all time.
Thought Catalog: Hi Matthew. How does it feel to have the coolest hair in all of literature?
Matthew Savoca: Hi Peterbd. It’s great to be here with you. I have actually been thinking of cutting it lately.
TC: All of it?
MS: Haha. Sometimes I ask my dad, “Hey, did you get a haircut?” and he says, “I got them all cut.”
TC: Haha. I enjoyed reading I Don’t Know, I Said a lot. The chapters were really short which I liked. Was making the chapters short a conscious decision?
MS: I don’t know if I ever said to myself, “Now, Matthew, make sure you make the chapters short,” but I definitely knew that I liked shorter chapters when I was reading things, so I’m sure it was in my mind.
TC: One of the chapters was not as short as the others and I was like ‘Damn, I liked when the chapters were really short.’ Did you make that chapter long to piss off fans of short chapters?
MS: You’re damn right I did. Everything I did with this book was trying to piss someone off. You’re the only one who’s ever picked up on that.
TC: I’m glad I did. You’re a carpenter, like Jesus Christ was, right?
MS: That’s exactly right.
TC: What’s your favorite thing about being a carpenter?
MS: Getting to go inside all kinds of people’s houses, and being near their stuff, and getting a feel for it.
TC: If one wants you to build them a chair how would they go about contacting you?
MS: Well, they could just email me. I would probably want to talk at length about what kind of chair, and what it would be used for, and usually I like to visit their house to see where the chair will go, or at least get a picture of the space it will eventually be in.
TC: I emailed you in 2012 about building me a chair and you never responded.
MS: I remember that. I think I asked you what kind of chair you wanted, but now I don’t remember.
TC: Ok I forgive you. Here’s an important question. Do you think you look more like Jesus Christ, Bruce Springsteen, or Vincent Gallo?
MS: That’s tough, because all three are genuine heroes of mine, and I have tried to model myself after them all. I think I would have to say Vincent Gallo because he’s the best looking one.
TC: Vincent Gallo is a good choice. Now let’s get back to discussing your novel. There’s not a lot going on in IDKIS. The characters seem aimless but it never really gets boring. It’s as if they’re so aimless that they somehow become fascinating and you want to continue reading about how they have no idea what they’re doing.
MS: That’s just a matter of dedication. You stick with something for long enough and people will start to take notice. Then if you keep doing it, they’ll start to hate it, but if you push past that and do it even longer, then they will admire it.
TC: Is the story completely fictional or did you implement parts of your life into it?
MS: There are many parts of my real life in it, but it’s sort of pieced together, and condensed, and then with some other things filled in, kind of like a can of soup.
TC: Have you gotten any negative criticism about IDKIS so far. Like have any trolls emailed you saying things like ‘stick to being a carpenter’ or ‘dis book sucked.’
MS: Nothing yet, but the other day someone gave the book two stars on Goodreads. They weren’t even courteous enough to give it a one star hated it review. They just gave the book an “it was ok.” That’s the worst.
TC: Wow, what an asshole.
MS: Haha. Right?
TC: Yea, Definitely. Haters aside, how long did it take you to write IDKIS?
MS: Well, it took about 3 or 4 months to write it, and then about a year to edit it. And then it sat around for a number of years before anything happened, so I messed with it here and there during that time, mostly just deleting or rewording parts that I didn’t like
anymore each time I looked at it.
TC: Did you enjoy the writing process?
MS: Yeah it was fun to do. It always feels like a lot of fun while I’m writing things down. Like there’s nothing I’d ever rather be doing, and it feels like it’s going so great. Then I look at it later and say, “What was I thinking?” and I go and make some dinner and then it feels great to eat dinner and like there’s nothing I’d ever rather do than eat dinner but then I get full and I’m like, “Ughh, why did I eat so much?” and I go and lay down.
TC: That was my favorite response of yours so far
TC: Who are some writers that you look up to or that have inspired you?
MS: Jean Rhys. Joan Didion. Ernest Hemingway. Frederick Barthelme. Werner Herzog. Kendra Grant Malone. Scott McClanahan. Michael Kimball. Brian Allen Carr. Tolstoy. Dostoyevsky. Bohumil Hrabal. People who write autobiographies.
TC: You’re in a relationship with one of these authors, correct?
MS: I’m in a relationship with them all.
TC: Sounds plausible. You recently did a spreecast where you read IDKIS in it’s entirety which was pretty cool. Did you like doing that?
MS: It was a lot of fun and I think it was a success. There are over a thousand pageviews, and only maybe 50 of them are me. Hah. It’s still up there. People are still visiting it every day. My voice dies at the end, like in the last fifteen minutes and the people still watching cheer for mercy, like at the end of Braveheart.
TC: It was a good spreecast. My favorite part was when someone brought you food and you said ‘thank you.’
MS: Haha. That was Kendra. She made me a little snack and made sure I had a fresh beer. She’s the best.
TC: What made you want to become a writer?
MS: I realized I wasn’t good enough to play in the NHL. I needed something else to do. And writing doesn’t cost any money.
TC: That seems like a very noble reason. Are you writing anything new currently?
MS: I have a book coming out at the end of the year or the beginning of next year that I’m finishing up right now. It’s called Why I Hate Nature. Holler Presents is putting it out.
TC: That’s great. I’m excited to read it. Hey Matthew, can I ask you some very serious questions now?
MS: Please do.
TC: Who was your favorite member of Boyz II Men’s original lineup?
MS: The little guy with the glasses. Boyz II Men are from my hometown.
TC: Where are you right now and are you happy being there?
MS: I’m in the house I grew up in, in the bedroom I grew up in. They were happy days, so it always feels good to be here.
TC: Have you ever been arrested?
MS: No sir.
TC: What is something Adam Robinson doesn’t want the world to know about him?
MS: That his dad was a senior aide to George W. Bush.
TC: Do you think the Flyers will go all the way this year?
MS: Damn, they were just eliminated from the playoffs and it really has me bummed out.
TC: Will IDKIS ever be made into a feature film? If so, who will play Library Bus Guy?
MS: I think IDKIS would make a great film. I think Kelly Reichardt could make it. Michelle Williams could play Carolina. I could play Arthur. Will Oldham should definitely be Library Bus Guy.
TC: What is your favorite archaic device?
MS: A rock.
TC: Is there anyone who you don’t want reading your book. Maybe someone you hate?
MS: I don’t care who reads it, but there are definitely people who I don’t want talking to me about it. Like that kid in 5th grade who made me eat a worm in front of everyone at recess.
TC: And lastly, If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
MS: “I’m sorry.”
I Don’t Know, I Said by Matthew Savoca is out now. It is the greatest novel of all time.