How to be a snob when drinking alcohol: “There are guidelines. First, if you’re faking it, everything is faint—you want to talk in terms of hints, notes, and shades. Give the impression that you only barely caught this delicate wisp of a flavor because you were concentrating so intensely back in Step 2.”

This fictional Paris Review Interview with “Constance Eakins” is a clever bit of promotion for The Mayor’s Tongue. Here’s a pdf of the interview [1.5mb]. Eakins started with comics:

Interviewer: Was it when you ran away from home that you began to feel that you were going to be a writer?

Eakins: No, I always wanted to be a writer, even before I was born. My first story was what I like to call an image-story. When I hadn’t yet learned how to speak, my dear mother would give me a parcel of rusty nails, which I used to draw abstract shapes on the walls of our home.

I: How do you know that these were stories? I mean, doesn’t every child make drawings if given some sort of writing implement?

E: They were image-stories and if you went to look at them now they would make you weep from the beauty of their narrative swoop.

The classic nuts and bolts…

I: When do you begin writing each day? As soon as you wake up?

E: Yes, when I wake up in the morning I always have the desire to sit down to write. The first thing I do is write down my dreams, then I get to my fiction, poetry, theater, film scripts, monographs, critical essays, and journalism—in that order. But then I constantly am receiving telephone calls, gawking fans come up to my house, friends try to visit, and I am all the time interrupted. Somehow I manage to keep on writing.

[via maud newton]

The Thurber & White send-up on the knee phenomenon:

Simply stated, the knee phenomenon is this: occasions arise sometimes when a girl presses her knee, ever so gently, against the knee of the young man she is out with… Often the topic of conversation has something to do with it: the young people, talking along pleasantly, will suddenly experience a sensation of compatibility, or of friendliness, or of pity, or of community-of-interests. One of them will make a remark singularly agreeable to the other person—a chance word or phrase that seems to establish a bond between them. Such a remark can cause the knee of the girl to be placed against the knee of the young man. Or, if the two people are in a cab, the turning of a sharp corner will do it. In canoes, the wash from a larger vessel will bring it about. In restaurants and dining-rooms it often takes place under the table, as though by accident. On divans, sofas, settees, couches, davenports, and the like, the slight twist of the young lady’s body incident to receiving a light for her cigarette will cause it… Now, a normal male in whom there are no traces of frigidity will allow his knee to retain its original position, sometimes even exerting a very slight counter-pressure. A frigid male, however, will move is knee away at the first suggestion of contact, denying himself the electric stimulus of love’s first stirring.