Alexander Weinstein quotes:

  • I'm a big fan of Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco's book Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, where they visit what they call The Sacrifice Zones of America and report on the current state of our environmental calamity.

  • [George W.] Bush's presidency was one of the great nightmares of my life to date.

  • "Openness" [story] ultimately asks this same question - can a relationship survive complete honesty? As a romantic, I want to say "Yes, of course!" But, over time, I've come to agree with Dan Savage.

  • What is the emotion of an empty inbox? An unliked Post? An ignored dating app message? I think there's a great loneliness that much of our society is running from, and we search for relief in our phones and computers, our online communities, our social networks of friends.

  • While my stories are experimental, they're also very traditional. I love the works of the great Russian writers like [Pavel] Chekhov and [Lev] Tolstoy, and their ability to portray our human struggles and joys.

  • I really admire the experimentalists who challenge traditional narrative - writers like Ishmael Reed, Michael Martone, Donald Barthelme, Tatyana Tolstaya, George Saunders, and many others.

  • I'm just worried that the technology I invented in that story ["The Pyramid and the Ass" ] will become real, and George W. Bush will be able to clone into a new body and be "re-elected" due to a clone-bill passed by him and his cronies. God forbid!

  • I think the future is intrinsically linked with our universal human problems. In fact, it's these very problems, and how we deal with them, which will determine our future.

  • I'll take a [Pavel] Chekhov comparison any day! He's of course one of the great masters at the short story form, and has helped define traditional conflict as we understand it.

  • I love the Russian absurdists - [Nikolai] Gogol,[Daniil] Kharms, and [Vladimir] Bulgakov. Even within the Russian experimentalists, there's a lineage of traditional narrative, conflict, and character development, which I find vital to my storytelling.

  • Wit and humor seem to always factor into this - there's a tongue-in-cheek tone you get when you take on a formalist story - because there's an inherent voice you're trying to copy (and often to satirize).

  • "Rocket Night" is my take on bullying culture. I think this is getting better, thanks to the anti-bullying work being done by my generation. But there's a way that coaches, teachers, parents, and administration officials can conspire against our students who need the most support.

  • In Nepal, I realized a certain part of my spiritual search had come to an end. I wasn't ever going to live in a Himalayan cave (I like electricity and a soft bed way too much), and I sure wasn't going to find enlightenment so easily.

  • However, in my fiction, I want to give an even further warning of where we're heading. And so, in "Heartland," you have people selling off their topsoil, and an underwater oil spill that has lasted over three-hundred days.

  • It's true, I do love the semi-epiphany. For example, in "Fall Line," the character's final decision is less epiphany than imbecility. He makes a choice, which the conflict hangs upon - whether to seek fame or actually change his life - and so, his decision is tied to the central conflict and his own hubris.

  • David Foster Wallace was a brilliant experimentalist who I deeply admire. His ability to do formalism helped me understand how to tackle stories like "Dictionary" and "Failed Revolution." "Dictionary," in particular, functions against narrative in many ways - each of the definitions are their own mini-story or prose poem, and the collection of them adds up to create a different effect than the traditional Freytagian Pyramid story.

  • That particular story ["The Pyramid and the Ass"] was written during the dark days of the Bush years. George W. Bush had just been "re-elected" (or elected for the first time, depending on how you count the stolen election) and it seemed like the horror of his presidency would last forever.

  • In the story ["The Pyramid and the Ass"] there's this war against the so-called Buddhist Terrorists. As we find out, they're not really terrorists at all, just good folks trying to liberate people from technology and fight against an American government/corporation trying to coopt our souls. The inherent racism and Buddhist-phobia in the story plays into the present demonizing of Islam - and of our loss of knowledge about the great, spiritual history of the Sufis, for example, or the cultural heritage from the middle east.

  • We're being asked to continually be "authentic" and "honest" with the world through social media. There's a demand to post our wedding pictures, baby pictures (only minutes after the birth), our relationship status, and our grief and joys on Facebook and Instagram. Similarly, we construct persona through dating apps and networking sites. All of these social media networks exert pressure on us to share the personal details of our lives with unknown masses. So the pressure on the characters in "Openness" isn't merely romantic, but public/social as well.

  • Presently we're seeing these kinds of battles for our most vulnerable students - such as Trans and LGBTQ students. You have a lot of conservative parents/school boards making life much harder for these children by trying to ensure bullying remains in place.

  • While I've always been critical about this peddling of spiritual materialism, it wasn't until I went to Nepal that I came face-to-face with my own spiritual materialism. The thing is, Kathmandu is noisy, and dusty, and crowded, and everywhere you go you see these same Western yoga teachers, hashish-smoking backpackers, and fair-trade shop owners, all seeking the stalls filled with amazing Buddha statues, hand carved mirrors, beautiful yak scarves, and thangka paintings. And everyone is buying stuff!

  • I set many of my stories in a gritty "realist" world, but one that is plagued by an overuse of technology, which is akin to the world we find ourselves living in now.

  • The problems we have with our current technology often reveal our own human foibles, and it's these new emotions of cyberspace which reveal our struggles.

  • I think the challenge for humans remains the same as it has always been: to learn the skills of kindness, compassion, and love. Without these sacred skills, all technology can do is grow the shadows in our lives.

  • I was really interested in this ability for others to create virtual memories for us. In "The Cartographers" I explore this through Adam Woods, and the company he works for, which produces virtual memories that people can beam into their consciousness. While the technology is sci-fi, the story is also a metaphor for the way love relationships create memories in our minds.

  • When I wrote the story ["The Cartographers"], I'd just gone through a breakup with a woman I'd loved dearly. Without this other person in my life, the memories we'd shared often felt like phantoms. Who was this person I once loved? Did she still really exist? The answer, on a metaphysical level, was that this person didn't still exist. She'd gone on to become a different person, an individual with new hopes and dreams which no longer involved me.

  • One of my central approaches to writing speculative fiction is to take an absurd situation, which we presently feel is normal, and then push it to an even further absurdity. It's only in this light that we can see the reflection of the disturbing state of our present-day affairs.

  • I came across an old story of mine that I'd written a decade ago. The main joke of the story is that a mother is telling her children about how she met their father online. The majority of memories the mother has all have to do with really funny links he sent her, a music download that she loved, etc. - and because of these superficial details she fell in love with the father. Reading it today, it's hardly a dystopian story; it's simply a realistic story about how people actually meet.

  • Parents are already telling their kids about falling in love online - there's nothing "frightening" or "dystopian" about this. So, the critique doesn't work, because we already consider our dystopic state of affairs normal.

  • The environmental catastrophes we're presently seeing are considered "normal" though they're horrific. Fracking has made drinking water flammable, families are dying from planned lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, mountaintop removal is killing families throughout Appalachia, and oil/mining companies continue to denigrate Native American and indigenous rights throughout the world (see North Dakota Pipeline presently). This is horrific - and yet we somehow consider it normal.

  • "Moksha" is really a satire of myself. I've always been interested in Eastern spirituality. I'm particularly interested in enlightenment and the spiritual pursuit to liberate ourselves (I'm a Buddhist at heart). During my teenage years, I imagined I'd end up going to India to become a yogi; study with the last living saints in a cave; give up all my worldly possessions; learn to levitate. And there's still part of me that can see myself "disappearing" for some years at an ashram somewhere.

  • I realize that I've had a very idyllic vision of what spirituality looks like. Honestly, most of Western culture has an idyllic and simplified idea of what enlightenment entails.

  • You find this watered-down enlightenment sold in mass quantity at yoga studios, high-priced shamanism retreats, DJ-fueled Ecstatic Dance parties, ayahuasca ceremonies, and self-empowerment seminars. There's a hope for a quick fix - if only we have the money and right drugs for it.

  • We shuffle out of office buildings after being laid-off by draconian bosses; we sit on hold for ten minutes only to be told by a supervisor that the charge on our cable bill can't be removed; we click a crying emoji on Facebook as our last whimper of protest. So rather than end the story ["Ice Age"] with the expected violence and destruction of evil, I wanted to focus on the way the characters end up sabotaging their own community though their attachments to the consumerism of the old world.