The Questionnaire: Renate Stendhal

How do you get up in the morning?

Can’t wait.

Do you succumb to nostalgia? 

Every cup of coffee is Paris.

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

Long cut cut, short and also.

How do you feel about your Wikipedia entry?

I wrote it.

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

Gertrude Stein, Nathalie Barnie, Liane de Pougy.

Best piece of advice you ever received?

“If not why not.”

Disciplined or hot dog?


Have you ever been defeated by a genre?

Every genre Stein took on (that’s all of them) defeated me. For a while.

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

A case of repressed memory? They’ve already been erased.

Are you okay with blood?

“Blood on the Dining-Room Floor.”

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

Virginia Woolf said, “Women alone stir my imagination.” I would say: men who aren’t men, women who aren’t women. Yes, they are real.

What country would you want to be exiled in?

Already have been: France.

What’s your favorite negative emotion?


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

Order within chaos.

What is your go-to shoe?

Go play in sand-box.

What’s your poison?


What’s your problem?

What’s yours.

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

“Ma vie, revue et corrigée par l’auteur.”

What are you so afraid of?

Editors slow with email.

How long can you go without putting paw to keyboard?

A moment every then and now.

Do you require a high thread count?

? This must be an American thing.

Who reads you first? 

Lover (writer extraordinaire).

Sexy and dangerous, or brilliant and kind?


What character or story haunts you?

Thomas Mann’s con man Felix Krull.

Does plot matter?

A p-lot.

Does age matter? 

Maybe. Age, ager, agest.

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?

Any which way and best in my sleep.

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

Gertrude Stein.

Is there a literary community?

Hopefully soon at LARB.

What’s the question or questions we should have asked, had we known? What is the answer?

“If nobody asked the question, what would the answer be.”