Raisin’ a Rumpus: an Interview with Stephen Elliott
by – January 21, 2009 – 7:21 AM
Elliott has been a ward of the State of Illinois, a stripper and a law school admissions counselor. Now, he’s becoming a literary success. He is starting to get some serious book buzz and was just named a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award to be announced this spring. He’s a player in the hipster, cult publishing world of writer Dave Eggers and his McSweeney’s Quarterly, and it was Eggers himself who edited “Happy Baby” (”Surely the most intelligent and beautiful book ever written about juvenile detention centers, sadomasochism and drugs,” said an excerpt from a New York Times review printed on the cover.) In short, in some circles, Elliott’s got — or is, at least, getting — rock star status.
Now, after all the excitement that’s been generated about Elliott’s literary career, he’s gone and done something few could have anticipated: started a website. Therumpus.net isn’t your run-of-the-mill content aggregator/blog, though: it features original reviews, interviews and essays on art, culture and whatever Elliott finds interesting by writers of literary merit, and blogs by long-established icons like Rick Moody (who wrote The Ice Storm), Jerry Stahl (Permanent Midnight) and others. But enough of my yakkin’ — I’ll let Stephen Elliott tell you about it himself.
Ransom: Who is the site for? What’s the angle?
Stephen Elliott: The site’s for a lot of people. It’s for people who are overeducated and underemployed. People who want to kill time at work and want an intelligent website that’s always being updated (we update fifteen to twenty times a day). A lot of these people are visiting sites like The Huffington Post or The Daily Beast because they don’t know where else to go. They’re reading rants and they’re reading different takes on the same “story of the day.” A lot of those people would rather read a short interview with somebody interesting or a book review or a really well written short personal essay.