Literary Hub

Marcy Dermansky on Writing Self-Centered Men in Post-Trump America

This week The Maris Review, Marcy Dermansky joins Maris Kreizman to discuss her latest novel Very Nice.

On relating to her male characters

Maris Kreizman: You tell the story from many different perspectives. What was it like embodying a kind of down-on-his-luck but very literary, bro-ish dude?

Marcy Dermansky: It was very interesting, very fun to write. I haven’t written much from a male perspective at all. There are two male perspectives in this book, the bro-ish dude and also the father. It was great. That character was an amalgam of many famous writers in my mind—

MK: I was going to ask you to name them!

MD: I will not. [laughter] The funny thing is, I slip into a lot of his concerns and worries and looking at his phone at 3am expecting a text from his editor, and it’s like, that’s me! But I’m not a man and as famous as him, but I do get my stuff in.

*

On characterization

MD: When you write, it sounds so corny, but you do go into a different place, and these characters have minds of their own and write their own sentences, speak their own dialogues. It’s really fun.

MK: So, Zaheed, the writer/professor/house-guest is an acclaimed writer but he’s having trouble with the second book. So he’s been teaching. He feels bad for himself in a way that, it seems, that only a self-centered man could.

MD: Yeah, I don’t think a woman would be quite so self-pitying.

*

On political writing

MK: This is a real post-Trump book.

MD: I feel like I’m a very political person, but I’m not a political writer. I don’t, for instance, tweet—well, I do now; everybody does—but I was very surprised to be writing about politics. Basically, I was writing after the election, and I was going through everybody’s stream of consciousness. I hope all these voices sound different, and some people agree and some disagree. But basically, my thoughts about what was going on in America, and what I was feeling, just seeped into the book.

*

Marcy Dermansky is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Red Car, Bad Marie and Twins. Very Nice is her latest novel.

Recommended Books:

Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet · Look How Happy I’m Making You by Polly Rosenwaike

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