Amy Bernhard is a student in the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. Her essays appear or are forthcoming in The Colorado Review and Waccamaw. Her essay “Discovery” appears in this issue of The Journal. Nonfiction editor Silas Hansen talks with Amy about nonfiction, fonts, and guilty-pleasure reads.
Silas Hansen: If you could have brunch with any three writers, living or dead, who would it be? And what would you serve?
Amy Bernhard: Oh man . . . such a hard question! I’ll go with Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, and David Sedaris. And I’m a horrible cook, so I’d have to take everybody out to eat!
SH: What book on your bookshelf are you a little ashamed to admit is there?
AB: I’m not necessarily ashamed of this book, but Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland because when I turned eighteen I got an emo line from that book tatted on my ankle, and now whenever people ask me about it I feel the shame all over again.
SH: I hear you’re teaching creative writing this semester—with that in mind, what three quirky topics would you like to see your students write essays about?
AB: Students, extra credit if you see this! Buffy The Vampire Slayer, school cafeterias, and the Iowa State Fair.
SH: I know most writers have strong feelings about the fonts they use—what’s your choice, and what do you think that says about you?
AB: I always use Times New Roman. Nearly all my past teachers required us to write our papers in Times New, and being a creature of habit it’s a pattern I haven’t been able to break. I like it because it’s loyal and unassuming.
SH: Best book of creative nonfiction you’ve read this year?
AB: Over winter break I read Firebird by Mark Doty and loved it loved it loved it. Other highlights include Plaintext by Nancy Mairs and Lorrie Moore’s Self-Help (it’s marketed as fiction, but to me reads more like memoir).