2005_02_sarahstodola.gif
The basics:
How old are you, what do you do, where are you from, where are you now, how long have you been here?
27, writer/ Me Three editor. I was born in upstate New York, then moved to Kentucky when I was six. I live in Fort Greene now. I’ve been in New York for four years.

A few for you:
What’s happening over at Me Three? And please pimp your new print journal.
So did you hear we’re bringing out a print journal? I’ve heard that the millions of Me Three fans have been buying it here. It actually just came out – the first issue is Winter 2005 – and we are totally pleased with the results. Stephen Elliott contributed a really nice little piece, as did a number of lesser known, but no less worthy, writers.

Aside from the print journal, we are chugging along with the website. Mark Grueter and I have been pushing for more fiction and cultural/literary coverage to appear on the site, since it seems that we somehow got really caught up in politics over the past year. Now that politics has disappointed, I am taking refuge in made-up worlds where perhaps there is no need to acknowledge unwanted leaders.

What’s the state of internet literature these days?
Online literature these days is really healthy. One of the really good things to happen over the last year has been the storySouth Millions Writers Awards, because they proved that even though it’s really easy to publish online, it’s still possible to set high standards.

Online literature can only really be good for literature as whole, because it provides a medium in which experimentation is welcome. It’s no secret that The New Yorker pretty much only wants one style of story. But online, nearly anyone can find a place where the kind of literature that interests them is available.

Will blogs be the death of journals?
At the risk of actually entering into the overblown conversation about blogs, I am going to answer this with an emphatic No. Blogs are what they are. And some of them are very good and will stick around for years. But for the most part, blogs are a fad that will pass, like Uggs and the Meatpacking District. Blogs will be to the early 2000’s what Atari was to the early 1980’s: an amusing but ultimately inferior entertainment.

There is something about this whole phenomenon that has been baffling me for months now. Everyone, all the way up to The New York Times, seems to be overlooking one simple fact: blogs are not literature. Even the very good blogs that cover literature are not themselves literature. In fact, I can think of only one blog (Winkyshock) that publishes fiction (not that literature has to be fiction by definition, but still…). Blogs are more like a wire service, in that they offer information on whatever their chosen topics are, and they are a resource for those who wish to find quick info all in one place on that topic of interest. Blogs are also an ideal forum for short, snarky writing, which again hardly qualifies as literature. They cater to short, witty comments, but not to long, well thought-out ideas, for the most part. If the Times and the New Yorker really knew what they were doing, they would give press to the sites out there that actually are publishing literature, like Eyeshot, Pindeldyboz, and Konundrum (along with, um, Me Three, of course). And I think that eventually, these online publications will get their due in the mainstream media.

No stranger to interviews yourself, you've conducted interviews based on the subject's past interviews. (Awesome idea. Watch me steal it:) You once said, regarding internet writing... "There's more good stuff out there, but there's also more bad stuff to be sifted through in order to find the good stuff." [Canon Magazine]
OK, now clarify: what’s the good stuff? What’s the bad
?
Hmm, a clear attempt to create factions, but of course I’ll bite…
The Good: Eyeshot, Pindeldyboz, Winkyshock, Arts Journal, Identity Theory, Konundrum, Beatrice, Snarksmith, Fail Better, and of course Yankee Pot Roast for the funny stuff.

The Bad: self-indulgent blogs, blogs about blogs, McSweeney’s clones.

What I really meant with that statement, if I remember correctly, is that because it’s so easy to set up a website, there really isn’t any filter that stops people who don’t know what they’re doing from publishing online (like back when I started Me Three, and I didn’t know what I was doing, someone would have stopped me if I had been trying to publish in any other medium). So a lot of crap makes its way online. But also, a lot of really great stuff makes its way there as well, and that stuff tends to be more original and more risk-taking than stuff in the traditional outlets.

Kentucky > D.C. > NY? Please give us your take on red v. blue Americas.
From what I can tell, many red state folks maintain a sadly limited worldview – the whole thing about the vast majority of Americans not being able to locate Iraq on a map is very revealing, for example. And they don’t want a complete argument, they just want a simple argument. People criticized Kerry for his ambiguity without recognizing that it is precisely that ambiguity that proves his own appreciation for the complexity of issues. Bush can paint everything in black and white, and it’s easy to take in, but it isn’t an accurate reflection of the state of things.

The one thing that’s come out of the election that angers me the most is the newfound belief on the part of liberals that they need to embrace the viewpoints of Middle America. To me, that is the worst thing we can do. That is playing politics rather than sticking to our principles. As a liberal, I am confident that most of the views of liberals are better and more educated views than those of conservatives, and although that might sound elitist, it’s also true. So we should spend the next four years really explaining and justifying our views and proving why the views of the right are wrong, because we have reason on our side, and we should take advantage of that.

I guess I’ve gotten a little off topic here, which is exactly what I did with Me Three this past year.

You're leaving New York. To where and why?
I'm not leaving permanently. I don't think I'd ever do that. But, for the next three months I will be in Argentina for the following reasons: it's summer there, it's cheap there, I can pretend to speak Spanish there. And also because that saying about the best way to live in New York is to be able to leave it from time to time provides some pretty sage advice...

The questionnaire:
If you could pass one law to improve New York, what would it be?
We’ve already banned smoking in bars, now let’s ban all of these planned high-rise apartment complexes in Brooklyn.

(After the WTC) What bygone place or thing do you wish were still around?
The Old Penn Station. And I would have liked to see Cedar Tavern back when it was an artist’s hangout and not a yuppie hangout. And Coney Island High – It was one of the first places I went out to in NYC, before I even moved here, and I just remember being blown away by how weird it was. I loved it. And Kokies.

Best bargain to be found in the city?
$2.00 rides to the beach. “ 2 eggs, potatoes, and toast” at any diner in the city.

Best celebrity encounter?
Ryan Adams hit on me once before he was famous. I thought he was weird and creepy. Then he got famous and the ladies seem to think he’s appealingly moody and intense. Also, once when I used to work at Fez, they took me off the door because I failed to recognize the Smashing Pumpkins and let them in. And also, Colin Quinn yelled at me once because I gave him shit for cutting the line, even though he was doing a show there that night. I’m not so good with celebrities.

The world is ending in 24 hours. What do you do with your last day in the city?
Revisit all of the places that have personal significance to me, including the bars, where I will drink with abandon, not fearing the next day’s hangover. And I might try heroin, not fearing the next day’s addiction.