What was your favourite book as
the little house series. we lived in a small town in java called madiun.
no we lived in a village on the outskirts of that city. my mother was a GP, the
only one in a radius of what seemed like the distance between our tiny doctor’s
house and the moon. when we think of her in those days my brother and i both
have visions of the queues in front of her clinic. but she sent us to a good
school in the city and no she didn’t do this everyday but we’d go to this
stationery store in the central market which was also a bookstore (in our
country a bookstore is always already a stationery store) whenever my mother
found out that the latest installment in the series had been translated and
published by this old christian publisher. we’ve never worked out how my mom
found out that the newest title had arrived but soon she didn’t have to anyway
because we’d no i, my brother didn’t like them, would pester her into going to
the store almost everyday. the newest title used to be kept in a tall glass
cabinet along with fake parkers in their velvety fountain pen coffins. propped
up with black wooden picture frame holder. i think the whole series took about
five years to come out, roughly the time from when i first learned how to read
to when we had to leave the city. we lost all the books, each of which except
the later spin-offs that were written by laura’s daugthers and grand- i’ve
reread maybe 324 times. my favourite stories were laura finally getting the
minx coat that was at the top of the collective xmas tree during that long
winter and pa’s escape from the hungry puma in the big woods. oh and how laura
repeatedly tells us that pa used to be able to fit ma’s waist within the span
of his hands. used to be able to. no need to tell you i hate michael landon’s
version of pa. where’s the fuckin beard? i used to try to superimpose the
(bearded) face of the guy who played mr. edwards onto mr. landon’s
marble-smooth monstrosity. and that journey hair!!! a couple of years ago i
tried to get the complete series again and went to the publisher’s HQ office/store
in the city where we now live. the books had just been rereleased with new
horrible covers, grey newspaper papers that look like they’d dissolve in whatever
liquid you accidentally pour upon them, and a uniform, smaller size that’s too small even for children’s hands. the books were kept in the sunday school
section upstairs. so that’s why. mary and laura walking to their sunday school
in their sunday dresses, their good shoes, and the millions of indonesian
children running after them.
When you were growing up did you have books in your home?
like mumu, maybe not as many books as magazines. we subscribed to three,
femina, tempo and hai. bobo used to be a femina supplement. bimba in kartini.
donald duck comics. sometimes you could still see the original dutch text under
the indonesian translation. how’s that for a palimpsest mr. vidal! playboys,
penthouses and hustlers my mother kept in the bottom shelf of her clothes
drawer. i learned this language in penthouse forum. the story of the girl with
the mini vagina. madonna, june 1985. the month i was born. oh i also read my
mother’s medical textbooks, that had this creepy pencil sketch of a pregnant
woman who looked about 12. the sequence shots of a baby’s head boring through
his mother’s cunt. the kriminal stories in tempo. jurnalisme sastrawi? eat shit
andreas harsono! balada si roy.
(too many fights to be a real ballad for me.) this was when we lived in madiun.
later i had stop (that scene where they swam naked in a lake and the guy who
had a crush on the only girl in the team swam under water. they were germans.),
trio detektif, lima sekawan (lidah for bacon!), malory towers (lacrosse!), and
then pramoedya. that was when the fun stopped.
no. maybe john updike? or nicholson
baker. no one in real life.
What made you want to write when you were starting out?
i don’t think i ever had a moment
in my life that i can identify as a ‘starting out’ moment. i haven’t even done
Do you find writing easy?
fuck no. it gets harder everyday.
it’s scary. i guess you just never know if what you write is important or any
good. or how you wrote that particular piece (of shit) or this. you accumulate
craft, sure, but the more craft you have the worse your longing is for the kind
of magic that you had when you wrote as a kid. how the fuck did i do that
treatise on ‘the day you took the sky out of my eyes’? genius.
What makes you write now?
part therapy, part megalomania.
How do you write?
at the office in between day-long yahoo! messenger conversations, late
(from about 10 p.m.) at home in between downloading porn.
How do you survive being alone in your work so much of the time?
what a stupid question. i never get the time to be ‘alone so much of the
What good advice was given to you when you were starting out?
‘put your name down after the title.’
What advice would you give to
you’ll never feel like you’re good enough. there are times when you know
you’re the smartest person in the world. reconcile those feelings.
What are you working on?