- Guernica: I’ve found there’s often a sense among writers or creative types that, “If I go into therapy, I’ll be giving it away. It needs to be filtered through my own work.” It sounds like you’ve had the opposite experience.
- Gary Shteyngart: Right, and I think that just is ridiculous. The way I’ve experienced it, there’s been none of that. When I entered psychoanalysis, I was drunk out of my mind. I couldn’t do basic things. I was dating a woman who ended up in prison a year later for bashing this guy’s head in with a hammer. So the answer is no. I spent five years spinning my wheels on my first book because I didn’t have the wherewithal to bring it together. Now, yeah, some of those experiences formed my fiction and my nonfiction. I’m glad those things happened. But was I better able to process those experiences once I entered analysis and my life stopped derailing? Of course. Without that I’d probably have one book at most and be living in a hut in Albania somewhere.
- Guernica: Did you interview the ex that attacked her boyfriend with a hammer?
- Gary Shteyngart: No, no. I couldn’t get in touch with her. <i>The New Yorker</i> ran an excerpt about that and <i>they</i> couldn’t track her down. Or they could and she wouldn’t respond to their questions. So she’s out of my life.
- Guernica: Probably for the best.
- Gary Shteyngart: I think so. I don’t want to wear a Kevlar helmet anymore. I feel more secure.