HITTING SHELVES: The Book of Formation by Ross Simonini

The Book of Formation by Ross Simonini comes out today! It’s a debut novel, told in a series of eight interviews, centering on a cult-like self-help “movement” in the 1990s and the child who becomes a guinea pig for its radical ideas. You will love this book. We asked the author how he’s celebrating.

I’ll wake up in Manhattan in a highrise. I’ll be in town to give two on-stage interviews, conduct a children’s choir singing a song I wrote about failure, and exhibit a collection of galleys of The Book of Formation, which I have destroyed, mostly by coating with various foods.

I’ll eat a mild breakfast and then squirt some wormwood tincture into a glass of water and drink it to stimulate my digestive enzymes.

I’ll cut a few strands of my hair. This is something I’ve been doing daily as an alternative to the single, dramatic event of a haircut, which I usually find to be unpleasantly shocking. I’ve been treating head hair maintenance like shaving, or manicuring a bonsai tree. Nice and gradual. When possible, I save the hair in a jar for use in my art.

I’ll gargle with cinnamon oil and hydrogen peroxide, which I do to keep myself healthy during travels.

At some point I’ll read a passage from a book about David Hammons, an artist who I find endlessly fascinating, partly because he’s a contradiction, partly because he’s a recluse, but mostly because the objects he makes are magic.

I’ll wear clothing that is as comfortable as possible. I’ve recently enjoyed soft pants that are essentially pajamas but have the appearance of fancy pants. I’ll wear those, unless it’s too cold out, and it probably will be, at least for me, since I’ve been living on the west coast the over the last two years, in the redwoods.

I’ll take a walk in the park with my wife, who will surely, lovingly cajole me into some kind of celebratory activity, because she knows I find the whole concept of celebrating a little uncomfortable.

I’ll eat a small lunch, because I tend to get sleepy after large lunches, and I don’t want to get sleepy before a reading.

I’ll try to drink a gallon of water, which I’ve been attempting to do every day. It’s the recommended amount to drink, but it’s a surprisingly difficult task to accomplish, unless you want to hang out by a bathroom all day.

I’ll read a chapter of my book aloud at the book release party and then I’ll have a conversation with a friend in front a room of people. After, I’ll talk with some of these people, but I’ll only be able to give cursory hellos to other people, because of time constraints. I’ll end up regretting these slights, even though I’m sure nobody else will give them a second thought. Each person will be having her own day, celebrating or cursing or mulling upon whatever situation in which she has found herself.

I’ll do my best to spend the whole day celebrating, but other feelings and bodily sensations will certainly get in the way of pure, easy exuberance, a feeling I tend to experience more often on unremarkable days, when I have forgotten about the world and the world has forgotten about me.

Ross Simonini is an writer, artist and musician living in Northern California. He is the interviews editor for The Believer and executive producer of The Organist. He contributes to the New York TimesArt in America,
McSweeneysInterview and frieze. He occasionally teaches seminars on oral literature at Columbia University.

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