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Jami Attenberg

April 4, 2012

Jami Attenberg

It’s one thing to say you believe in the power of independent publishing, and another thing to actually implement this belief. Novelist Jami Attenberg walks the walk in a way that’s both impressive and inspiring. Beginning with appearances in numerous zines and her 2003 chapbook Deli Life, Jami has demonstrated a commitment to independent and self-publishing that should serve as a model to rising authors disillusioned with traditional publishing venues.

Jami’s work – which runs the gamut of topics from sex, technology, design, and graphic novels, to books, television, and urban life – has appeared in  a few publications you might recognize, like The New York Times, New York, Nylon, JaneThe Huffington Post, Salon, and many others. Likewise, her fiction has appeared in a number of appropriately sexy venues, including some of the hottest new fiction anthologies, culminating in the collection Instant Love, which was published by Crown/Shaye Areheart Books in June 2006.

Instant Love was originally a series of zines which she sold primarily on her website, The site has been operational in one form or another since 1998, and features Jami’s photography. She is also the author of two novels, The Kept Man and The Melting Season, both published by Riverhead Books. A third novel, The Middlesteins, will be published in October 2012 by Grand Central Publishing. Jami’s work is smart, incisive, and funny in the way that only true things can be.

Jami was Rosie Schaap‘s answer for Question 13, and we’re so grateful for the referral.

1. What is your hometown?

Buffalo Grove, IL.

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

Can I say all of them? All of them.

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

Toni Collette? Someone with a big noggin.

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

Basically anything by Sol LeWitt triggers happy sensations. Or Richard Serra. I like visual art so big you have to take a step back to look at it. The end result of my work is a small object – physically, anyway — so I am always appreciative of artists who can create things on a large physical scale.

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

ARCADIA, by Lauren Groff. It’s one of the most important books of the year.

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

Sleigh Bells,


Wild Flag,


I’ve been in New Orleans for the winter, walking everywhere, obsessively listening to these bands.

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?


8. Cat person or dog person?


9. What is more important, truth or kindness?


10. How do you define sin?

If it feels good and it’s wrong.

11. How do you define virtue?

Your best quality that you don’t even know that you have.

12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

Ashes. Just dump me in the bayou, please.

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

 Stephanie Anderson, Manager of WORD Brooklyn.

Jami Attenberg


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