Meet the Writer: Stephanie Sanders

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I want to thank Stephanie for answering my questions. She is the owner of the blog Book Puke, a book review site. You can also find her on Goodreads, so you have no excuse not to say hello! Stephanie’s Rolling Stones t-shirt and willingness to have her back to a goat increases my love for her.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a microbiologist for a while, I wanted to be in marketing for a short time, and I also faintly remember thinking that I should teach preschool, but before that, and after that, I wanted to be a writer. I’m working on it.

What was your least favorite class at any point in your education? Why?

Math for Business Majors, freshman year of college, was the first class I failed – and I failed it twice. I have extreme math anxiety and, for a strange season, I was a business major. I hated all of it. That class became a symbol of my uncertainty, of all of my self-betrayals (and I couldn’t figure out why I needed to know all of these things if I had a calculator that could do it all for me). After I changed my major, I learned that I had miraculously tested out of all normal, non-business maths and had taken it three times for nothing. That hard-earned credit couldn’t be used for anything in my new major.

What was the first blog post you ever wrote about?

I used Xanga in Junior High, so I’m pretty sure my first blog post was a highly dramatized yet humorous account of everything I did in school that day and about how hardcore I was in all things. I might have laid out a manifesto concerning all of the exciting posts to come. That seems like something young me would do – I was all about the fanfare. I remember having a black background, which was indicative of my unfathomable depth and seriousness. I used a lot of emoticons.

I don’t think I ever intended it to be read by anyone other than my close circle of friends, but I made it public, so there is a dangerous narcissism there. I actually found it a few years back and reread some of it. It was horrible. I don’t understand any of my own jokes anymore.

Do you think blogging is meant for the blogger, the readers, or both? Why?

I think that blogging is beneficial for both blogger and reader.

I believe all blogs, idealistically, are written to benefit and educate someone other than the blogger.They wouldn’t be published if they weren’t. There have been times when I’ve tried to convince myself that blogging was for my purposes only – that I was doing this only to keep track of my tastes and emotions, but I still found myself compulsively checking page view statistics after every post. I struggled with this for a long time. I typically try to keep my online presence interesting and humorous, but unassuming. Book Puke, I feel, is a deviance from that. By writing about books, I’m saying that I think I know a lot about books, and this horrifies me. I don’t want you to think I’m bragging. I am learning to accept that I have a need for others to know me in this way and that I think I’m worth knowing. Literature is the one thing that brings me back from the proverbial edge – I am so, so passionate about this. I need to share it with you or I will burst. While I am learning about my preferences, the blogging lifestyle, and the limits of my braveness, I hope I am benefiting readers and writers by bringing attention to amazing literature.

As a reader, I think I most appreciate that blogs are often a great to get an “unofficial” view of a topic away from the bias of money or advertising or whatever it is that keeps us all reigned in. I appreciate the general lawlessness of it all.

Are you reading anything right now?

I’m reading A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro and I’m listening to Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. Both are superb.

A Pale View of Hills is disturbing and subtle. I just reached what may be considered the “breaking point” of the novel, when the framing falls apart and everything comes undone – all I could think was, “This is ruining me.” I’ve read a few interviews with Ishiguro in which he seems to apologize for the novel – this infuriates me. It’s a good book. Just admit it already.

is the first pseudo-autobiography I’ve read and I’m really enjoying it. This book came to me at the right time in my life. Zelda and Scott do strange things to me. I am not really sure why. While I realize they were both probably hard to get along with, I’m in love with them. I know their relationship was toxic and strange, but there is a sincerity and a fatefulness about it that kills me.

Do you habitually follow any blogs?

Lately I’ve been stalking the backpages of Caustic Cover Critic. It’s a blog dedicated to book covers. I’m learning a lot about trends and design, but I’m also giggling a lot. For example, there are apparently a bunch of companies who publish out-of-copyright classics with random, wonderful covers featuring fungus and chihuahuas and other fabulous stock photos that have nothing to do with the text.

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About Grab the Lapels

I'm a graduate of the MFA fiction writing program at the University of Notre Dame. I also have a MA and BS from Central Michigan University. I teach composition, creative writing, and literature, which has inspired me to follow along with trends in teaching, publishing, and reviewing.

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