Don’t Write Alone | Interviews

Lauren Oyler Is Interested in the “Patheticness” of Our Online Lives

As part of our Social Media Week series, editor Kendall Storey chats with ‘Fake Accounts’ author Lauren Oyler.


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New York Times Book ReviewThe Washington Post2021 Notable Works of Fiction

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Kendall Storey: There is a line from that haunts me: “You’d be surprised how much time you can spend on Twitter and still have some left over to write a book.”

Have you ever actually tracked how much time you spend on Twitter each day and how much time you spend writing or doing other things? I ask because our experience of time is so different from how it actually operates, as you point out in the novel.

Working on My Novel

KS: I love that you touch on two types of writerly voyeurism: watching people online and spying on people at parties! I wonder what meaningful differences you find between these two modes, if any, and how they’ve influenced your work. How much did observing people on social media inform the writing of ?

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KS: It seems like writers often shy away from elements they fear might become anachronisms in the future, but something I love about is that it explores the internet as a dimension in which people live rather than as “new technology” or whatever. What do you make of the term “internet novel”?

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KS: I particularly enjoyed your coinage of the genre “sad girls in Europe” (, January 2021), to which also belongs, of course . . .

Speaking of Europe, you’re living in Berlin now and just came out in German translation! How has it been engaging with the reception there? Have German readers or critics responded to the book in different ways from American readers and critics that you can tell?

KS: It doesn’t surprise me that German readers have latched on a bit more to the novel’s loneliness. I do remember how gratifying it was when Katie Kitamura wrote in the , “Oyler is such a funny writer that it can be easy to overlook the fact that the underlying tone of her book is extreme disquiet.”

Your mention of Heidegger reminds me of something else Katie said in her review that stuck with me, that the novel “adroitly maps the dwindling gap between the individual and the world. However much time the narrator spends alone, in her head and online, she is formed by what is happening outside.” I wonder what you make of this idea that, in the internet age, the gap between the world and the individual is actually narrowing?

KS: Right, and writers and literary critics have obviously been concerned with this idea of authenticity, and the distance between the self and the culture, long before the internet existed . . . This is so great. I wish we could keep going for longer, but I think we probably ought to wrap things up, so I’ll ask one last question. You’re writing an essay collection at the moment. Are there things you miss—or don’t miss—about working within the form and constraints of the novel?

Wait, why I am in this fucking forest?