An interview with Justin Taylor
Borges or Unamuno?
Wordsworth or Coleridge?
Coleridge. “Frost at Midnight.”
Pablo Neruda or Octavio Paz?
Neruda, though I’ve barely read either one.
Fitzgerald or Hemingway?
The Great Gatsby is about a hundred times better than The Sun Also Rises, but choose any other matchup and Hemingway wins. Almost any random Hemingway short story is better than anything Fitzgerald ever wrote.
Melville or Poe?
A good Selected Stories of Poe might be more fun than an equivalent volume of Melville, but I’m not sure that Poe ever wrote anything as affecting as “The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids,” or as powerful as “Bartleby the Scrivener.” And then there’s —duh—Moby-Dick. Obviously I’m going with Melville here, though if it’s any consolation to Poe, I’ll take “Annabelle Lee” or “The Raven” over any of Melville’s poetry.
The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
Professor Plum or Colonel Mustard?
Casablanca or Citizen Kane?
Bacchus or Dionysus?
Dionysus, though I’m not sure why.
Malcolm X or Martin Luther King?
King, who had a bigger vision and was a better socialist.
Myanmar or Burma?
Whichever is the one that was the one it was before the military junta changed it.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars, but only (duh) the original trilogy.
Sartre or Camus?
What’s worse: Murray Hill or the Upper East Side?
I actually lived on the UES for a few months, and it was scarily easy to get used to and learn to love. So, probably the Upper East Side.
Kim Jong il or Mao Zedong?
Where are the cool kids: Williamsburg or the East Village?
We’re in Bushwick, actually, and we’re really sick of being overrun by yuppies and undergraduates. A new coffee shop called Cup just opened across the street from my apartment and a 16 oz. cup of drip is $2.75. It’s obscene. I want to make fliers to warn people. I want to shout at them from my bedroom window. Anyone who goes there more than once is a class traitor, or an idiot. There’s a family-owned bakery next door where the same cup will run you $1.50—those guys make a great sandwich, too. Stella di Cicilia Bakery at 217 Montrose Ave.
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Justin Taylor is the author of the novel The Gospel of Anarchy and the story collection Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and at justindtaylor.net.