Lydia Davis Doesn’t Twitter

Last summer, I curated a reading at Polestar for Brandon Scott Gorrell and other members of the Muumuu House extended family. Brandon is the author of the poetry collection During My Nervous Breakdown I Want to Have a Biographer Present. On Twitter he is @LydiaDavis. I like these.

The reading was July 4th weekend. Two people came. The Muumuus grew silent. They were young, vegan-thin, styled by Vice. I was turning 30, eating animal byproducts on the sneak, looking extra-Jewy. Sorry, I said.

Months later, I wondered what Brandon thought of me. Did he ever think of me at all? Was I at fault for the poor showing on The Lower East Side, or could we all shoulder the blame? One question in particular kept me chewing the Nicorette late into the night: Could I get to the bottom of those ‘scare quotes’?

I had an opportunity to email with Brandon for my last post: Richard Hugo Didn’t Twitter, in which I asked a number of poets how Twitter has affected their craft. Brandon’s response stood out from the fray. I saw my moment. Went Bill Moyers on him:

Melissa Broder: I see that you are following 28 people on Twitter (at time of interview) and have 281 followers. When you get to 290, will you follow a new person? Or will you hold off?

Brandon Scott Gorrell: I don’t follow people on Twitter that way. I don’t hold off on following people. If anything I regret following people because I usually want to defollow them after awhile but I feel pressure not to because I don’t want that person to feel bad, so I’m left resenting the fact that I have to read the person’s Tweets. So I’d rather just avoid it by ‘thinking hard’ about following someone before I follow them to ensure I won’t regret it later. It doesn’t have anything to do with my number of followers. But I should say, to quell a potential disturbance, that I like all the Tweets of the people I’m following, I think. I like reading Gene Morgan’s Tweets. Gene Morgan’s Tweets kind of make me feel safe. I like Tao Lin’s and Victoria Trott’s Tweets a lot. I really like to read Jimmy Chen’s Tweets because he is my friend and I like to read about his perception of life. Is Tweets supposed to be capitalized, I can’t tell.

Melissa Broder: If you get an email notification that says: Melissa Broder is now following you on Twitter, how do you think you’ll feel?

Brandon Scott Gorrell: Good, or like ‘apathetic’. I’d probably think something like ‘Penguin’ or ‘Someone that might be famous, or is kind of well-known, or something, or connected, is now following me’ but it would be ‘constrained’ by feelings of cynicism related to ‘power-hungry’ networkers, or something, and also constrained by confusion about if ‘Melissa Broder’ was the person that hosted a reading for my book and her level of power in the ‘lit game’.

[He thinks I might be famous!]

MB: How would you assess my Twitter style? Where do you see areas for improvement?

BSG: I just searched for your Twitter account and found it and looked at it and just felt confused about your Tweets and like, didn’t really comprehend anything, and felt tired, and noticed that you once Tweeted ‘to’ Gene Morgan with the word ‘pizza’ and a bigger word I hadn’t heard before but picked up from the context that it meant ‘explanation,’ or something, and wondered, distantly, if you and Gene Morgan were friends, then saw something about you reading at KGB bar and wondered if you were famous, then ‘entertained’ the idea that this interview thing was important and would attract the attention of high-level publishers that would email me, asking me to send them my unpublished novel called ‘my hair will defeat you,’ and I think felt tired again.

MB: When I held a reading for Muumuu House at Polestar, and two people showed up, did you blame:
a. Me
b. Yourself
c. Tao
d. July 4th Weekend
e. A hybrid
f. None of the above

BSG: You I guess.

MB: I’m afraid you might be judging me because when we met, I think you had a moustache of some sort and I didn’t have bangs. Were you judging me for that?

BSG: I definitely was not judging you for not having bangs.

MB: I’m afraid you might be judging me because the bottoms of all of my emails to you say: “Sent from a Blackberry.” Are you judging me for that?

BSG: I am kind of judging you for that, definitely. I even pointed at it and said ‘How could she write all these questions from her Blackberry’ to Erik Stinson and I think he expressed a similar feeling. I feel like I’m judging you as a business woman or something. A networker in business casual who walks quickly in shoes that make ‘clopping’ sounds while talking on her cell phone, using phrases like ‘Let’s let it gel for a day or two.’


MB: Tell me about the history of the now-infamous scare quotes as they pertain to you. When did you start using them? How do you feel about them?

BSG: I started using scare quotes after I read Tao Lin. I feel okay about them. I feel kind of stupid about them. I feel like I get judged negatively for using them. Sometimes when I see something I wrote that has like a million things scare-quoted I feel really embarrassed about myself and like, decisions I made in the past. I don’t want to use scare quotes anymore but can’t seem to ‘help myself.’ ‘See,’ ‘I keep doing it.’ Feel like I wish I could use scare-quotes like Zachary German, who, ever since I first ‘publicly kind of disavowed scare quotes’ on Formspring has ‘upped’ his usage of scare quotes and ‘I swear to god’ is trying to taunt me by it.

MB: Do you think you’ll remain Brandon Scott Gorrell or could the Scott go at some point?

BSG: That seems like a good question. I think about that sometimes. I feel kind of embarrassed about being ‘Brandon Scott Gorrell’ and not just ‘Brandon Gorrell.’ I think I want to become ‘BRANDON GORRELL.’ Blake Butler, I feel, is ‘BLAKE BUTLER.’ He’s ‘BLAKE BUTLER’ on Blogger. I always felt that was a good decision, of his. It just seems appropriate for him.

[I’m for Brandon Gorrell, no Scott.]

MB: Are you working on a new book-length collection?

BSG: Of poems? Not really. I’m writing another novel called ASIA.

MB: On February 21st, you dreamt on Twitter that someone was ‘dissing on’ your pants. What do you think that dream was about?

BSG: Probably like, insecurity about some superficial aspect of my life that I nevertheless feel is important and dedicate energy toward for the purpose of appearing superior to everyone.

MB: What were the results of your jarred organic foods sale?

BSG: I sold two cans of organic food. They are still for sale. My ex-girlfriend has them all and can still ship them. We split the money. Can you link this question to that blog post?

MB: What will it take for you to tweet about this q and a? Will I have to tweet it and you retweet it? Will someone bigger than me, such as HTMLGIANT, have to post it? Would you ever simply tweet it?

BSG: It wouldn’t take much. I generally Tweet most things like this, whether or not it’s ‘credible’ or whatever. I will Tweet this. Muumuu House will probably Tweet this, then I’ll Retweet that.

8 Responses to “Lydia Davis Doesn’t Twitter”

  1. dude.

  2. “a bigger word I hadn’t heard before ”


  3. ‘I’m afraid you might be judging me because the bottoms of all of my emails to you say: “Sent from a Blackberry.”’ ok that’s pretty good.

  4. I always wonder if Tao Lin puts all his MuuMuu House authors through a one week intensive boot camp, teaching them how to use scare quotes, strip language of any overt emotion besides cynicism, and etc etc. Every time I read another interview, I become more convinced of this suspicion. Next time you interview one of these guys, you should ask.

  5. […] installment 1.5 Brandon ‘Scott’ Gorrell expounded on the techniques of various twittering writers he […]

  6. […] In Part 1 she spoke to poets, including Ron Silliman, Amy King, Tao Lin, and Reb Livingston. In Part 1.5 she spoke at some length with Brandon Scott Gorell. Now, in Part 2, she speaks to prose-writers, […]

  7. what kind of emotion do you expect from an interview about twitter?

  8. nice. thx

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