In 2010, the artist Hans-Peter Feldmann and Hans Ulrich Obrist conducted a book-length interview. The two Hanses agreed that Obrist would ask traditional interview questions and Feldmann would answer them by providing only an image. The book, called simply Interview, is an expansive exercise in control and meaning.
When I read Heidi Julavits’s The Folded Clock: A Diary, I was struck by her relationship to objects and the place they take in her life. In a very funny and layered way, her diary entries move, like an ego-submersible, from the surface to the abyss and back. I decided that, in the spirit of Feldmann and Obrist, I wanted to interview Julavits and have her respond with eBay auction articles, as the book also reveals Julavits’s knack for e-commerce. What follows is the result of our discourse.
When is a story from life worthy of retelling?
Do you have a good sense of time?
The book concerns many friendships and their degrees. When does someone become a friend?
Is love something that you collect or discard?
What would a friendship with Leni Riefenstahl be like?
How does the rearrangement of your own objects or furniture make you feel?
Your book addresses the various shifts in the meaning of things as we age. What was meaningful to you last year that is no longer meaningful now?
What do you usually forget?
I like the idea of a predominant self. Where, or who, is your predominant self today?
You write about your fear of sharks. What sort of highly valuable or beloved object would you feed to a shark to save your life?
Describe the process of writing this book.
What is character?
What is the difference between time and timing?
Leanne Shapton’s most recent book is Sunday Night Movies. She coedited, with Heidi Julavits and Sheila Heti, Women in Clothes.