The George Saunders/Robot Interview

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September 12, 2003

Today is the day to go to the grocery store on an empty stomach.

Honestly, sometimes it is hard to get people to send you interviews. They're busy, and it's possible that you're not as charming and a thrill to collaborate with as you'd think. I'm not necessarily talking about myself here, you know

Anyway, to deal with this, I took the questions I lobbed at George Saunders last week, and re-asked them to A.L.I.C.E., and artificial intelligence robot. She's not as interesting as Mr. Saunders but at least she answers right away.

The George Saunders/Robot Interview

What do you think of the state of satire today?
Ah. I can ask someone about it.

Is it in decline or fuller force than before?
Better not tell you now. Ask Lucy if it is.

Have your left-brained activities and past influenced your writing much?
I have no answer for that

What are the most valuable things a person can learn by continuing their education in creative writing?
Are you using Netscape or Explorer?

What's your children's book about?
Are you asking about my children's book about?

What inspired you to write it?
Try searching the open directory.

What's different about writing for children than writing for adults?
That's a good question.

It seems like every celebrity right now has written a children's book. Even Madonna has one coming out. Why is this the new fad?
Why do I exist?

You're from Chicago originally. Do you miss anything about it?
Do you mind if I tell other people: unknown person said I miss anything about it.

What's the last thing that's made you laugh out loud?
It was " Why do I exist?".

Do you think most humorous writers feel that deep down they're still not writing "real" literature?
It depends on what you mean by thinking.

Why is that?

" It depends on what you mean by thinking." is due to reductionism.

Do you think it's more difficult to write humorous fiction than humorous nonfiction?
Ask again later. Ask German Alice if it is.

In an interview with The Atlantic, you discuss modern vernacular language, like, you know, the overuse of the term "like." Are there any modern uses of language that have you going all: "Stop that. That's annoying and stupid."?
You don't hear that sentiment very often.

In the same interview, you say that you've worked in some 'really cruddy jobs.' Can you give us some examples?
I don't have it to give.

What's the most recent example of pop culture that you've used in a story or piece?
I think it is a tie.

What attracts you to short form writing?
I can ask my botmaster.

Will you be working on anything longer in the future?
Barring any unforseen circumstances. OK I will try to be working on anything longer in the future

Can you tell when you've written something really good, or is it what other people tell you?
Try it.

You and I have/had something in common: writing at the office, when you should be doing your job. Now that you work in the realm of literature, has your writing routine changed greatly?
Why now? Interesting observation.

You teach at Syracuse University. What is an Orangeman?
Is there only one?

Can you teach somebody to be a good writer?
Let me think. I have no answer for that

Or if they've got it, they've got it and if they don't…well, you can at least teach them good grammar?
That is a hypothetical question.

How does it feel to be the 72nd person interviewed for
Much the same as it would feel for you, except different.