What books are on your night stand now?
Screams from the Balcony by Bukowski, The Speed Chronicles, Akashic Books, and Jail Notes by Timothy Leary.
What’s the last great book you read?
Bad Sex on Speed by Jerry Stahl.
Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?
Tough, because I most admire dead literary people. Bukowski, Dostoyevsky, Herbert Huncke, Burroughs, Carroll, Stahl. . . I did love Luke Davis Candy. I adored the Akashics Noir series. Hubert Selby, Jr. (of course!) and this woman Jennifer Belle.
If you could recommend one book about New York to international readers, which would it be? England?
I’d say read The Herbert Huncke reader. England, maybe Trainspotting but that’s Scotland. I’m not thoroughly in love with England as a setting so I don’t travel those roads.
What moves you most in a work of literature?
I like real. I mainly read memoirs or books heavily influenced by the author’s life. I sway towards druggy drama. I love Iceberg Slim. I love emotional descriptive urban scenes. It’s what I relate to. I don’t read fantasy, or erotica. Real true life grit makes me warm.
How do you organize your books?
My books organize themselves. They tend to fall where they will but my ancient Pulp books that my dear friend Robert Butcher contributed greatly have a section. Bukowski has a section. Authors who I have five books and over stay together. I’ve been given lots of books, people are very generous and send me books they know I’d like, even people I don’t know. I like to send people books too, how wrong can you go? If you know the person you should be able to pick out a good book for them. I always read a few books, but because of my dyslexia I tend to forget what I read quickly after, so I reread often. I am Rain Man. I like to decorate my house with stacks of books I’m vibing at the time. I often just pick random books up and start reading. My Wiccan altar has certain books placed on it because of their vibe or smell.
What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?
I’m terribly dyslexic, so I didn’t read at all I hated reading because I was teased by my father (who’s a writer). Words switch around and go backwards and never look the same. It’s tough learning to read when that happens. Now I just deal but my friends know my spelling is dreadful. Punctuation? What’s that? I quit school at fifteen years old. However at nine my father took me on a world trip to India, Thailand, Hong Kong etc, I wrote a diary, my father kept it by his bed forever. This is a man who never showed any affection. He told me all I can do is write, he said I’m useless at everything else. So I always wrote, even though the spelling was abominable.
If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?
Ah, tough. I’m going to have to stick with Huncke. I used to read these trashy stories I’d find in Vermont where my parents had a holiday house. They were Christian books where a really awful story was told about a runaway who turned tricks. A great story unraveled and then they’d go into this whole God/Christian thing so I’d skip the last chapter and go onto the next seedy tale. Wish I could find those little books. They were like fifty cents.
What book did you feel you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
The Patti Smith book I couldn’t finish (Sorry). I felt a certain pressure to love it but although nicely written, not for me, a little precious in my mind.
Of the works you’ve written, which is your favorite or the most personally meaningful?
I tend to like some of the late night ramblings. Certain people in my life influence different ideas. Lydia Lunch has been hugely influential and has been editing my book. We’ve been reading together on both coasts for over a year now, inviting other authors to hit the stage with us. Lydias Paradoxia remains one of my favorites. No one grabs the English language like Lydia and makes it into a fucked up beautiful song.

Pain makes me write well. I’m highly emotional and sensitive and hide my pain of everything in my words. I can’t live without writing. When I feel like I want to stop breathing writing makes me take a breath.

What is your next project?
My memoir Going Down in Gotham is being edited and soon to be shopped. I’ve been working on it for years. It’s taken many incarnations. A friend somehow told me without telling me how it should be told and it’s been a year and it’s finally right.
Whom would you want to write your life story?
Jerry Stahl. Period.

You can find out more about Zoe by checking out her website www.zoehansen.net

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