Born Rivals No. 8: Emily Gould

Miles Klee is a little-known novelist. Recently, he decided his best career move would be to start a feud with another writer. This is his ongoing attempt to find (and destroy) the perfect rival.

Frustrated with the palpable goodwill of several previous guests, Klee this week set his sights on a confirmed hater: Emily Gould. Readers will remember Ms. Gould from her tenure at Gawker, a New York Times Magazine cover story that reminded them to change their sheets, and a memoir about tattoos(?) titled And The Heart Says Whatever. Now mere months away from the release of her first novel, Friendship, she seemed likely to offer her unvarnished opinion of anything under the sun—whether I asked or not.     

KLEE

Emily Gould, I would like to start off by congratulating myself. You failed to extend me an invitation to be on your webseries “Cooking The Books,” perhaps because I had not published anything at that point and can barely make grilled cheese, but I was willing to overlook this shameful snub and invite you here today. How does it feel to not have the moral high ground?

GOULD

It feels … familiar? Anyway, you’re lucky we never met in a kitchen full of KNIVES and HOT OIL.  When and if we ever bring back “Cooking the Books,” though, watch out. I would love to have you as a “guest.”

KLEE

When not contemplating the logistics of cannibalism, you write books, but you also sell them via your e-book subscription service, Emily Books. Please explain why this does not violate U.S. antitrust laws, keeping in mind this interview may be cited in future lawsuits. (And how long did it take you to come up with that name?)

GOULD

Oh, you’re right, Miles. Emily Books, a feminist independent business, is totally more of a monopolist than, say, Amazon. (Fuck, this is hard, Miles. I feel like I’m on the Colbert Report and totally bombing? Powering through.) Emily has always struck me as a good name for a bookstore, I probably would have picked it even if it wasn’t my name. But yes, also: I love myself. I am a big fan of myself. How HORRIBLE and WRONG is that? A: not as horrible and wrong as women in this culture being constantly told that they’re not supposed to like themselves at all. Miles, what I’m getting at here is that you’re a sexist patriarchal chauvinist pig who should pretty much be hog-tied like the boss in 9 to 5.

KLEE

I’m hurt that you think I wouldn’t enjoy it. I have to say, as a fictionist, I’m a little annoyed that you’re moving from personal essays (And The Heart Says Whatever) into novel territory with your forthcoming book, Friendship. Couldn’t you have just called them My Diary Vols. I and II and leave it at that? The best part is, it leaves the door open for a trilogy.

GOULD

Touché. Not all of us can write weird experimental metafiction about … um, whatever it is your book is about. Some of us prefer to tell straightforward stories that people can relate to, not because we’re dumb and went to bad colleges but because … that’s a more honest … uh, something.

KLEE

That’s just the sort of articulate reply we’ve come to expect from a professional blogger like you.

GOULD

Zing! Wow, “blogger” as an insult. Your dated diss makes me nostalgic for the simpler days of the mid-aughts.

KLEE

On average, how many misandrist thoughts would you say flit through your brain per day? Are you hating men right this minute? When the ascendant femocracy finally and thoroughly subjugates the Y chromosome, will I be allowed to at least see my mom sometimes?

GOULD

No, you won’t be able to see your mom … because you’ll be dead. We’ll have harvested your sperm and we’ll use it to only have female children. Duh!

KLEE

As long as my genetic goo is the lifeblood of your dystopia, I guess that’s OK. But on the subject of fantasy: before we began this exchange, you were explaining Vampire Academy, a series of young-adult romance books set to become a lucrative Hollywood franchise. I wonder if we could take a moment to pitch our own YA titles with an eye toward film rights—then we can see which idea James Frey steals first. Mine is called Angel Camp. It’s about a girl chosen to become one of God’s messengers after her parents are brutally murdered by human secularists, but first she’ll have to face a challenge of Biblical proportions: making friends at a sleepaway camp for seraphim-in-training. Will she survive this hell and attain the kingdom of heaven? We’ll need at least 6,000 pages of clunky exposition to find out. (Your turn.)

GOULD

I could cheat and pitch you the plot of my 2006 YA novel Hex Education, but I can’t actually remember it.  Angels are so over, Miles. Angels flopped in 2011. I think the new angels were supposed to be mermaids for a while. I’m not up to speed. It’s possible we’re on centaurs now. My novel is about a feisty female centaur who’s dealing with all the ordinary pressures of high school plus, unfortunately, leukemia. She’s never had a close relationship because … well, who would want deal with her possible—let’s face it, likely—early demise? Better to be alone. But that all changes when a new boy moves to her town who’s unlike anyone she’s ever met. Boy centaur, that is. And he also has cancer, or maybe not. This novel is called The Fault in our Centaurs.

KLEE

I can hear the corporate-indie soundtrack already. Not to sound neurotic about my abilities here, but in the role of interviewer, would you say I am better than, inferior to, or about the same as Jimmy Kimmel? Also, as an interviewee, how do you feel you stack up to Stevie Nicks?

GOULD

I can’t compare you to Jimmy Kimmel because I had the memory of that interview excised from my brain via years of expensive hypnotherapy. (JK. But if I could afford years of expensive hypnotherapy I would do that.)  Regardless it’s tough to make that comparison because fighting in a google doc is a lot easier than fighting on live TV. So my answer is: (?) As an interviewee, and just in general, I will never remotely come close to Stevie. Did you see this? “I’ve been in a famous band for a very long time and because of that I’ve taken very good care of myself, except for the eight years I was on Klonopin and I got really fat.” Who can compete with that?!

KLEE

Nobody participating in this conversation, that’s for sure. Assuming you didn’t write your own Wikipedia page—I do seem to recall some embarrassment about the photo—when did you first notice you had one? Is there anything particularly galling or offensive on there? I’m not saying I vandalized it, I just want to be prepared when I do.

GOULD

Oh, I have a Wikipedia page? Golly, lil ole me? I wouldn’t know anything about that bc I never ever google myself. I just birdwatch and wait for the muse. Sigh, OK, actually? I asked my editor to edit to reflect the fact that I have a new book coming out, and she did. I hope that’s OK, Jimmy Wales. The fact that there’s even a subheading for “criticism” is sexist. (Seriously.)

KLEE

If you’re going to get serious on me, I may as well ask this: you’ve spoken on not a few literary panels and the like; who is the person you hate most that you could still stand to share a stage with?

GOULD

You! Um, I don’t know. I think it would be fun although adrenalin-depleting to share a stage with Katie Roiphe. Hi Katie when you read this four years from now because that’s how long it takes you to notice things that have happened on the Internet!

KLEE

Be honest: are those n+1 parties ever actually fun, or is it just a bunch of unpaid interns figuring out how they’re going to afford cocaine that night? (Just kidding, I know that any twentysomething who can afford to work for free in New York has plenty of prescription meds to fall back on.)

GOULD

They’re not fun for me but that’s because I generally only like parties that take place in a private karaoke room or inside my own apartment. Also as someone who worked a paying job, a paid internship and an unpaid internship during college in NYC I resemble and resent your remark. Also, cocaine is unfashionable again, rave drugs and hallucinogens are back, it’s part of 90’s nostalgia. PLUR, Miles.

KLEE

I despise you for making me look up that acronym, but not as much as I despise myself for remembering that it’s not the first time I’ve had to. Can you please list three topics or concepts that people need to immediately stop writing about?

GOULD

1. Miles Klee
2. “the death of publishing/print/the novel”
3. “The internet is killing our creativity/attention span/[I forget the other ones]”

 KLEE

Emily Gould, you have been as prickly and brutalizing as everyone on email backchannels says you are. Care to lob any final insults? Leave it all on the field.

 GOULD

This has been a disgusting experience. I wish you the worst of luck in all your endeavors. Um … may all your teeth fall out, except one in which you have a toothache! Ptoo!

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