Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Eileen Myles, 1998


AMY: So, what did you do today?

EILEEN: I learned how to canoe. And I'm readjusting, because I spent July on tour with these girls, Sister Spit. We did this amazing 20-shows-in-30-days tour, you know, where we slept on floors in anarchist bookstores. It was dazzling and funky and totally cool. So I went from there to here, which is this incredible big-lake-knotty-pine-looking place with great dinners and eighteen people I never met before. It's a big meltdown and now I'm getting used to it, and I'm writing, working on a new book called Cool For You.

AMY: Is it going to be Chelsea Girls, part two?

EILEEN: It's more about childhood. It's weird because its technically about female incarceration. I had this idea about how the outsider in art is really male. Because I always think that females are insiders, and that female rebellion starts someplace where you're really trapped, like mental hospitals or shitty jobs. So I'm exploring my narrator, the Eileen Myles character, from the position of being, like, a camp counselor, and in lousy jobs and institutions. I have an Irish grandmother who ended her life in a state mental hospital in the '50s, during my childhood. So I'm weaving a lot of my childhood in with the notion of work and jobs. It's totally about class.
AMY: Class is a big thing for you.

EILEEN: I come from an Irish-working-class-townie-in-greater-Boston reality. I went to U Mass (Boston) and we were constantly reminded during our education there that we were unique people for these teachers to be teaching because they all went to Harvard and we hadn't read James Joyce in high school. So we were very exciting because we knew so little.

AMY: That's not very encouraging!

EILEEN: It's how I learned about class. It was crossing the river, in a way. I went to college in the late '60s, and there was lot of political activity going on, but not at my school. We all worked in Filene's Basement, and there were a lot of Vietnam vets. It was already a very checkered class world view when I started to wake up and write, and be more me...


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