Smoking with Nadine Darling

Read the Story December 15, 2006

When did it come to you that Joe should move into the aquarium?

Oh, immediately. I have that kind of pissy, childish mentality where it’s just escape at any sign of strife. Any time we have an argument my first impulse is always, “Well, I’ll just live in the toy store, then!” It makes perfect sense to me at the moment. You can also file that under, “you’ll be sorry when..” as in “you’ll be sorry when I’m living in the toy store, playing with all those toys.”

“No…I wonder how a guy becomes a security guard.” One of the many things I love about this flash is how each word, each successive sentence surprises me. How do you maintain the originality and freshness of a piece from beginning to end?

I try to write things that don’t bore me so there’s usually some crazy shit in there eventually. If I’m writing something about a married couple, I’ll think, “oh, maybe the husband is really the devil,” or “maybe the wife doesn’t exist at all.” I don’t expect the reader to have a longer attention span than I.

The myth of the effect of aquariums is that they can free us of our anxieties, fears, frustrations, and depression. What is it about aquariums that forever associate them with the forever searched-for serenity that eludes us in life?

It’s so womb-like. We went to see that Great White in Monterey a couple of years ago and there we were, cheek-to-jowl with roughly a thousand people—all milling and crouching and taking illegal flash photos—and not one person was angry. No children were crying, no one was elbowing. Everyone was just riveted to this massive tank and the shark and the rays and the sea turtles—just the whole prehistoric cabaret of it. It makes you think you remember things from past lives when you can’t remember where you left your keys in this life. Or maybe it was that faux-Yanni music they were blasting. That was pretty incapacitating.

Your bio shares some vital N. Darling info: you’re “broke-ass and sick with love.” But even more important, you have a Corgi. I assume that’s with whom you are sick in love, yes?

Well, that dog has brought a lot of joy into our lives, but I think my love for him is probably less complicated than a sickness. It’s maybe a dry cough. With Kenneth…you know, it’s a very unpredictable thing. I’ll be fine for a while, just calm and very day to day, then all of the sudden we’ll be on the bus and I’ll try to eat his face. I don’t want to hurt him, I don’t want to scare anyone, I just want to eat his face. So, it’s challenging. It’s a challenge.

The 2005 Edge Annual World Question (www.edge.org) asked a question that the BBC called “fantastically stimulating.” One year later, we ask you this same question: “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?”

That everything is going to be all right. I recommend feeling this way; you sleep really well.

About the Author:

Nadine Darling lives in Beverly, Massachusetts, with her husband, Kenneth, who she couldn't love more if his pockets were filled with candy. She is currently writing her first novel to avoid getting a real job.

About the Artist:

René Magritte was a Belgian surrealist artist (21 November 1898 - 15 August 1967).