Underway: Kunzru, Haigh, Martínez


What’s on your desk? What are you working on?

Underway: Kunzru, Haigh, Martínez

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I’m sitting here working on some music reviews before going away to India.The best is a band called the Ear- lies, who I think will very popular. In fiction, I’m working on something to do with political radicals in the early seventies, but it’s not clear to me yet quite what story will come out.

My desk is a mess. I can see the keyboard, but there’s stuff piled up all over the rest of the (quite large) surface. I can see perhaps thirty CDs, about half out of their sleeves, some loose change, a badge saying “I ♥ 104.4 FM” which is the frequency for Resonance FM, a London-based art and sound station. There’s an iPod voice recorder attachment thingy still in its shrinkwrap, a phone, some postage stamps, a postcard from Berwick-upon-Tweed, which was put through my letterbox by mistake, a set of electrical screwdrivers, two different sets of speakers, one attached to the computer, the other to a mini hifi (also on desk), two pots of assorted pens, a tube ticket, a tray with unpaid bills and flyers and other things I ought to look at but am not, a frequent flyer card, the latest letter from an irate lady who thinks I have traduced the memory of her dead relative (a long story), another letter from a school wanting me to give prizes at their speech day, a couple of checkbooks, a copy of Daniel C. Dennett’s Freedom Evolves, and a copy of “Prairie Fire,” the Weather Underground manifesto. Under that there’s a bunch of other stuff…

Hari Kunzru

I’m polishing the final, final draft of my second novel, Baker Towers, a family saga set in a Western Pennsylvania coal mining town in the years following World War II. On my desk: A miner’s dinner bucket, picked up at a tag sale in Somerset County, Pennsylvania; The Macmillan Visual Dictionary—the book to look in when you need to know the name of that plastic piece at the end of a shoelace. (It’s called an aglet.); French Cheeses: The Visual Guide to More Than 350 Cheeses from Every Region of France. Because writing make me hungry.


Jennifer Haigh

A new book requires a new desk. The new desk looks kind of like a drafting table my father once had, only it has shelves above the work station proper. On the top shelf is an easel-back promo poster from my first novel, Mexican calendar art and ultra-kitsch. Next to that, a photo of the legendary mariachi José Alfredo Jiménez and two stacker trays–one with eBay paid waiting to be shipped invoices, the other unpaid. Shelf number two holds a jarrito full of my favorite pens, a pair of scissors, a finger nail file, and two combs, one for me, one for my dog. Then there’s the paid stamp, the stapler, and tape holder. Bottom level: a vase with a single orange rose purchased as part of a dozen from the ambulant flower vendor in the parking lot at K-Mart because I believe in the underground economy. My mouse pad features Vladimir Guerrero, right fielder for the Anaheim Angels, and in my opinion, the best example of a five- tool player in the Bigs right now. Since I am an eBay Power Seller, I think what’s on the floor directly below my desk is fair game as well: four pairs of Ferragamos, a vintage Judith Leiber belt somebody already wants to give me $55.47 for even though there’s over two days (an eternity in eBay time) left on the auction, vintage Gucci coin purse with key fob, Famolare Hi Theres from the seventies that I wish fit me, several pairs of new-wave pumps because the eighties are back, Cherokee wedge heel Mary Janes from the seventies, and a few pairs of nondescript Birkenstocks.

I am currently working on getting a guy who bid a Yes Tourmato concert T-shirt up to $88.51 to pay me, and a novel about a girl who gets taken on an excursion to the county dump the first day of her life (it was on the way home and the truck was already loaded), who has a horrible childhood, then grows up to be the queen of the flea market. ✯

Nina Marie Martínez
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