Pop Culture
Oct 10, 2015, 09:53AM

They Have Nothing to Tell Us

A 2015 BOMB magazine interview with playwright Annie Baker vs. a 2015 Tin House interview with author Matthew Neill Null.

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Annie Baker: When I was seventeen I started secretly recording people and then transcribing everything, twenty pages of a so-called banal conversation, and then marveling at how beautiful it was when you just write down exactly what people say. 

Matthew Neill Null: You go to the family cemetery, and it’s dense with infants. They have nothing to tell us.

Baker: I do have a slightly different metabolism.

Null: I don’t have a regimen, really.

Baker: To me it always feels like it’s falling apart.


Null: What’s the point of being endlessly patted on the head?

Baker: The specificity of it is so awesome.

Null: You’re in Los Angeles, I’m on Cape Cod.


Baker: In contemporary American theater, especially in the world of nonprofits and older subscriber audiences, there’s all this stress about making things clearer for the audience.

Null: That’s cold comfort, but it’s better than nothing, which is what we have now, along with torn-up roads and bridges from all those Schlumberger trucks.

Baker: Everything I’m about to say might be obvious, but I do think there’s something special about the thing happening in front of you.

Null: I saw a mountain lion tearing into a team of horses, the blood on the snow, the chains snapping and shooting links.


Baker: But I wasn’t conscious of experimenting with that, or trying to show people anything.

Null: Tear up your map, bury your wallet, vanish.

Baker: Yeah. Although who knows.


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