Now, my impression that I’d sold out was a private one, shared neither by my gallerist, Julien, happily traipsing about the room affixing red dots to the drywall, nor by the swell of brightly dressed expatriates pushing their way through conversations to knock their plastic glasses of Chablis against mine. There was nothing to be grim about; I was relatively young and this was Paris, and this night was a night that I’d been working toward for some time. But from the minute I’d seen Julien place a red sticker underneath the first painting I’d done in the series, The Blue Bear, I’d been plagued by the feeling that I’d done something irreversible, that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, that I hadn’t been for months. Worse yet, I had no anchor, no one to set me back on course. My wife of seven years, a no-nonsense French lawyer who had stuck by my side in grad school as I showcased found sculptures constructed from other people’s rubbish and dollhouses made out of Barbie Doll packaging, was a meter of my creative decline. Anne-Laure de Bourigeaud was not going to lie and tell me that I’d made it. The person who would have, the one person who I wanted to comfort and reboost me, was across the Channel with a man who was more reliable, easygoing, more available than me. And so it fell to the red stickers and the handshakes of would-be patrons to fuel me with self-worth. But halfway through the evening, with my own wife brightly sparkling in front of everyone but me, I was unmoored and drifting, tempted to sink.
–Excerpt from I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum.
Late Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.
Courtney Maum: Can married love survive a betrayal?
LNL: If this book were the lovechild of two others, who are its parents?
CM: I’m going to jump genres here and say that it’s the product of “When Harry Met Sally” and Noah Baumbauch’s “Kicking and Screaming” making out at a Parisian metro stop after too much Beaujolais.
LNL: What ingredients go into the recipe of your writing style?
CM: Sleep deprivation, determination, honesty, carbonation, dark humor, sensuality, and just the right amount of schmaltz.
LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.
CM: The Bridge to Terabithea. The first book that made me cry simply because of the story, and not because I was overtired or feeling vulnerable or hating my current employer, or anything else.
LNL: Answer a question you wish people would ask you about writing.
CM: What are five essential items in your carry-on bag? I’m perversely addicted to these indulgent sidebar columns in glossy magazines, and I like questions that acknowledge that sometimes, even writers leave the house.
Get a copy of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You at IndieBound.
Courtney Maum graduated from Brown University with a degree in comparative literature. She then lived in France for five years where she worked as a party promoter for Corona Extra, which had everything to do with getting a visa and nothing to do with her degree. Today, Maum splits her time among the Berkshires, New York City, and Paris, working as a creative brand strategist, corporate namer, and humor columnist. Visit her at courtneymaum.tumblr.com or on Twitter @cmaum.