GIGANTIC: Do you ever find yourself linguistically inspired by odd things such as mishearing the lyrics of a pop song or reading writing on the bathroom wall?
LIPSYTE: Yeah, I'm often keeping my ears peeled for some kind of language incident. To hear something wrong, to hear it anew, to hear it in a different way than I ever had before. I have a recent example. I was in the supermarket just buying supermarket things and it was really crowded and there were a whole bunch of cashiers in a row and my cashier mistyped the item or something and anyway the whole thing needed to be erased and we needed to start again. And she called out that phrase I've heard a million times in the supermarket—and there is always one guy there with a key who can help with this—but the phrase was, "I need a void!" At that moment I was receptive to other meanings of that phrase, not just the need to void the cash register but rather the idea of somebody saying, "I'm in need of a void in my life or my spiritual existence at this moment."
GIGANTIC: In another interview I read with you by Michael Kimball in Avatar Review, you said your stories often start as a "lingual event" that sort of knocks around in your heard.
LIPSYTE: It is that sort of thing. But I may just tell that story over a beer to people and never use it. Maybe it is too obvious or would feel shoe-horned in if I tried to do something to it. But it exists now as a sort of nicely heard phrase.
GIGANTIC: Could you talk a little more about lingual events?
GIGANTIC: Yeah that's a kind of plain question. We'll fix that in editing.
LIPSYTE: Well, it is what I was just talking about where you hear something walking down the street or you mishear the greeting, mishear the guy on the news, misread the thing in the paper. Something interesting occurs. But it is not that often you get to use it in the right way. I've found that the only time that it's ever really worked, come back in an interesting way in fiction, is when I've forgotten. If I'm walking around thinking, "I'd really like to use I need a void, maybe I'll write the scene in the supermarket, use the phrase somehow," it will seem strained. But it is when I've really forgotten and it pops back in, it seems to work out.
GIGANTIC: I mishear stuff all the time, but I like to think of it as evidence of our creative minds at work, that we are like correcting what we hear. Making it more interesting.
LIPSYTE: Maybe. I'm also, I think, partially deaf from listening to loud music and I do mishear things all the time, not as an artist but as a guy with damaged hearing.
GIGANTIC: Because you were the front man for a noise-rock band named Dung Beetle. Do you look to music for writing inspiration?
LIPSYTE: I often think about the feeling that is created in me by music as a feeling or effect I would like to create in the reader on the page. So there were times that I was thinking about a sort of sharp approach to fiction, which would approximate the command and acceleration of songs I liked.
GIGANTIC: Who were your favorites?
LIPSYTE: Oh, doesn't really matter, but you can get a feeling for the sort of punk shit I'm talking about.
GIGANTIC: Right. [sighs] I remember the punk rock days.
LIPSYTE: Well I didn't live through the real punk rock days.
GIGANTIC: But there's always some punk rock.
LIPSYTE: There have been like thirty years of punk rock days. Everybody gets to tap in.
GIGANTIC: Then immediately after you get to say, "It's all over."
LIPSYTE: Everything up to your point was authentic. AFTER that it became somehow compromised. Everything after 2006 really, total shit.
GIGANTIC: Everyone sold out, the whole world.
LIPSYTE: The whole world. Four billion people just sold out.
GIGANTIC: I think we are up to six billion now.
LIPSYTE: See? That's part of the sell out.