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Ann Marlowe    
 
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  I wrote How to Stop Time very much as though it were an eBook. I included end-of-segment references both forward and backward, directing the reader to material that he or she would have read or not read depending on where the reader began the book.

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In the book, I say that the episodic and arbitrary nature of a heroin-centered life is mirrored in the dictionary format , and I do believe it, but in truth, I wrote How to Stop Time that way because I felt like it. I didn't mean to imply that there was something disjointed about my writing in the days when I was doing dope. Far from it. If anything, getting high made my attention span longer, and sometimes too long.

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Heroin didn't influence my writing style in a direct fashion - it influenced my perspective on life, but not the mechanics of style. That came from the reading I did up until I finished college, which was mainly canonical, people like Edward Gibbon, Thomas de Quincey, and Plato in Greek, who is more radically experimental than ever comes across in English translation.

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As to the structure of the book, I didn't feel that the book imposed its own order or that the reader had to read it chronologically; I felt that the format ought to encourage readers to experiment. I'd love to hear from someone who read it backwards, or randomly - and would admire their freedom of thought. I did want readers to read all of it, but by no means in the order it's written.

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I'd love to see an eBook version of How to Stop Time and have thought about publishing my next book, on sex, money and the construction of femininity, online.

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At some point I suspect that books will come out first online and then, if they seem durable, classics even, paper versions will appear for collectors. I have mixed feelings about this. I love the books I own, I am having bookshelves built for them right now, and as aesthetic objects they are satisfying. But they are also way too expensive for young people and students and plain old poor people and I expect that online publishing will make them more accessible. Also, anything that will lead to change in the publishing industry is a good thing.

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I feel that people who spend a lot of time online get what I'm doing better, on the whole. I really can't relate to people to whom email and the Web are not important, unless the people are very old and I'm not relating as a peer.

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My writing has been very influenced by writing on a computer. In fact I almost never print out paper copies. For me, the point of the paper copy is to move me along when I get stuck, to help me out of a rut. Somehow on paper a wrong direction can be more visible to me. But when I'm humming, I don't feel the need to see the writing on paper. In fact, both with articles I've published in print magazines and with How to Stop Time, there is a moment of shock and even mild dismay at seeing the paper instantiation. It feels less correct sometimes. These days I'm doing the majority of my writing for Salon, so it really never hits paper at all, which is fine by me.

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I didn't read any hipster lit, people like Burroughs and the other Beats, until I was in my late twenties, and not much of it impressed me. I owe much more to Freud or to Nietzsche in terms of intellectual perspective than to the whole lot of hipster lit altogether. Nietzsche and the pre-Socratics opened my eyes to the aphorism and a style formed of short units, which mirrors the way I think, so I was overjoyed to discover that you could write that way.

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Perhaps because my academic background is in philosophy, I tend to privilege ideas over form. When the reader finishes, he or she will take away some new ideas, if I've done my job. I do want some influence over the reader, changing or reinforcing his or her thinking on the subject at hand, or even stirring up passionate disagreement. But that's about it. I would much rather that my writing gave the impetus to someone else to go out and create something than that he or she agreed with me lock, stock and barrel.

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