8 Questions with Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee is the author of Edinburgh, The Queen of the Night, and How To Write An Autobiographical Novel. https://www.alexanderchee.net/

Photo credit: Robert Gill


Which talent would you most like to have?

I have longed, since childhood, for pyrokinesis, the ability to set fires with my mind. My husband insists I already possess this but he has quite the sense of humor.


What is your most treasured possession?

A brass ship's lantern my late father turned into a lamp. It looks a little like the lantern from the Green Lantern. When I turn it on, it feels like he's closer.


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being somewhere where no one knows where I am, or who I am, and with no demands on my time. Or, being in Italy.


What is your motto?

Wandering finds it. I believe in the power of getting lost, the power of finding something you weren't looking for to begin with.


How would you like to die?

Fighting for what I believe in.


If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

I don't know that I'd trust myself to choose. But I don't know that I'll want to come back. Earth isn't going to be so fun the next time around.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Honesty. People use it as a weapon all the time. All those people who praised Trump for 'speaking his mind' while he has lied at a rate that wears out fact checkers.


What is your current state of mind?

My mind is trying to survive my grief and fury at the incompetence of our national response. I have survived this pandemic thus far, and I'm doing everything I can to help others, but at some point I realized we're trying to survive America more than COVID. That the broken systems, broken on purpose in order to support the crime spree currently happening under the Trump Administration, are making the virus more deadly than it is.