The Zachary German Documentary, “Shitty Youth”

Zachary German’s web presence was one I once compulsively checked-on for updates, that I consistently enjoyed, intriguing and funny, and now his web presence is gone, mostly, because he wanted it to go away.

Adam Humphreys’s new documentary, Shitty Youth, which shares a name with German’s possibly defunct “radio show”/podcast, portrays German as a willfully difficult or potentially alienating person socially who is very attuned to style and taste, the author of one novel, Eat When You Feel Sad, which got good attention and praise, who has released almost no writing since, in part because much writing, including his own, is not up to his very high standards.

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An Interview with Zachary German

The first time I met Zachary German was at a restaurant where they had noodles and beer. Zach had thick glasses and would be quiet a long time and then suddenly start asking a lot of short questions. He has big eyes sometimes. Later, a bunch of people walked to an apartment and Zach smoked a pipe and when we got there he went and bought several 40s and we talked about rap.

This was right before Zach’s Bear Parade ebook version of Eat When You Feel Sad came out. Reading EWYFS in this form I remember feeling both confused and intrigued, the blankness of it, and the feeling behind the blankness that I couldn’t name, and why I wanted to keep looking at it. Zach’s is surely a voice unlike most any other for this way of its small, selected observations, the rendering of time and space in direct, neutral seconds, which somehow in cohesion form a center you could not have labeled in another way.

Last month Melville House Publishing released the full version of Eat When You Feel Sad, a novel, which takes off from the place the original excerpt began and develops that indirect interiority even beyond what I’d expected in the first taste. Herein, Zach offers an answer for one of the bitchiest matters in books: How to deliver presence or “heart” without sounding predictable or like a dolt. It’s truly a refreshing and oddly powerful collage of moments, music, staring, speaking, eating, boredom. This is a new thing, an odd object that somehow opens great feeling in its calm.

Over email I talked with Zach about the book’s creation, his manners of selection, minimalism, his humor influences, bedtime, revision, and so on.

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