Vi Khi Nao Recommends...

“I don’t always encourage my students to walk into a classroom without any clothes and the only thing on their body are porcupine quills, in the same fashion that I don’t always encourage neophyte literary beings to become writers. To caution writers from pursuing a career in writing, I tell them that the writing life, the good one that is, is like climbing a mountain, but this mountain isn’t made of rocks—rather it’s composed entirely of razor blades—and one would naturally assume in climbing this mountain, one would be wearing shoes, but the writer’s feet are often bare, sockless. I tell writers to turn to the works of Diane Williams, Forrest Gander, and C. D. Wright for their tenacious light. This is to say, when writers reach the summit of the mountain, I don’t want to be the voice that tells them that the quintessential source of their vocational existence has emerged from ugliness. Even though, how could it not be? The view up top is not that beautiful. And, because it is not that beautiful, the devil wants it and my heart wants it more. What I am trying to say is: Don’t stop writing on my behalf. And an advice is born because I do want you to live this life.”
—Vi Khi Nao, author of Fish in Exile (Coffee House Press, 2016)

Photo credit: Frank D. Hunt