Five with Jonathan Messinger

Next at bat with Pilcrow's "Five with" series is Jonathan Messinger author of Hiding Out, co-publisher of Featherproof Books and the book editor of Time Out Chicago.

1. What are you working on now?

I'm working on a novel right now. I was sort of floundering for a while there, but think that I've finally hit some sort of stride with it. Which, I think means I've just jinxed it.

2. What is your favorite part of literary festivals and why?

I like meeting readers. I find that when confronted with the people who read your work for no other reason than they felt like it, it's a much more illuminating and gratifying experience than, say, speaking with the press. Every time I talk with someone who read my book, whether they liked it or didn't—and they're always honest about that opinion—I'm astounded that someone set aside a few hours to read what I had to say. It's mind-blowing.

Also, if there's free food, I'm for it.

3. Who are your favorite small press mover/shaker types at the minute?

I'm really impressed by what Aaron Petrovich is doing over at Hotel St. George Press. There's such a wholly contained aesthetic, something I think is extremely difficult to achieve. I always like what Featherproof's good buddies Switchback Books are up to. And I think one of the great indie presses that doesn't get talked about in quote-unquote literary circles, because those circles are dumb, is Tachyon Publications, who publish some of the best sci-fi in the world.

4. Which author do you wish was coming to Pilcrow Lit Fest this year who is not?

Christian Tebordo, who's by far one of my favorite young writers around.

5. If you were in charge of picking a theme song for Pilcrow Lit Fest this year, what would it be?

There's a busker on Chicago's Blue Line who sings Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" to a karaoke track. He keeps an old phone receiver in his back pocket, with the cord tucked down the front of his pants, and at various points in the song he pretends to dial and says, "Hello, Paris Hilton? Will you come over tonight and give me some hot stuff?" or, "Hello, Jewel Foods? Do you have Hot Stuff brand potato chips? You do? OK. I'm going to come get me some."

At Pilcrow, I'd like for that guy to be on repeat.

(You and me both, Messinger. Who wouldn't want that?)

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