The Questionnaire: Jonathan Penner

By The QuestionnaireMarch 26, 2012

How do you get up in the morning?

Feet first.


Do you succumb to nostalgia? 



Do you write long and cut, or short and backfill?

I guess I tend to write long and cut, but sometimes of course, you gotta back fill. I improvise till I can't think of anything else to do.


How do you feel about your Wikipedia entry? 

I never look at my Wikipedia entry - I just did and it's Survivor heavy - Just the media highlights, I guess, thin and pretty boring.


Lunch with any three people who ever lived; who do you invite? 

Jesus, Buster Keaton, and Bruce Lee. 


Best piece of advice you ever received? 

'Your kids are their own people, don't try to make them extensions of you.'


Disciplined or hot dog? 

You gotta be pretty skilled to hot dog effectively. It's a discipline.


Have you ever been defeated by a genre? 

Yeah, Academic writing.


Which classic author would you like to see kicked out of the pantheon? 

I've only read about four of them I think. 


Are you okay with blood? 

I love blood. And without it, I think I (and all us living folk) would be not so okay.


Who is your imagined audience? Does it at all coincide with the real one? 

I am my imagined audience. and it does.


What country would you want to be exiled in? 

I like England. Or the south seas.


What's your favorite negative emotion? 

Fear is the key.


Is your study neat, or, like John Muir's, is your desk and floor covered in "lateral, medial, and terminal moraines"? 

It ain't neat, that's for sure. I don't know what a moraine is.


What is your go-to shoe? 

Bare feet or sneakers. 


What's your poison? 

What isn't?


What's your problem? 

Aspergers, maybe? Weak ankles certainly.


Title of the book you're probably never going to write, but would kind of like to get around to? 

Diary of a Clown called Toby.


What are you so afraid of? 

Being unable to improve or discover.


How long can you go without putting paw to keyboard? 

Not so long. Days, maybe. Weeks, no. 


Do you require a high thread count? 

No, is that a cute way of asking if I'm high maintenance? If I am, it ain't about thread count.


Who reads you first?  

My wife/ partner/lover/friend.


Sexy and dangerous, or brilliant and kind? 

Yes, please.


What character or story haunts you? 

None come to mind. Harrison Bergeron I guess. 


Does plot matter? 

Not too much, but enough that all stories have one. 


Does age matter? 



Do you prefer to write standing, or must you lie prone in a field of dandelions with a steno pad and a good pen? Or what? 

I write with a pen and paper or just typing on my computer. I like to walk around when breaking story. 


Who is the author you'd most like to impersonate online?

The other Jonathan Penner. 


Is there a literary community? 

How many people does it take to make a community? More than 400? if so yes.


What's the question or questions we should have asked, had we known? 

If you'd known, you would have known not to ask since you'd have known I wouldn't answer that one. The other one I WOULD have answered was 'as often as possible.'

LARB Contributor

The Questionnaire is, as her name suggests, a multifarious and mysterious interlocutor. Chameleon-like, her questions change their color as they approach each new interviewee.


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