Bend Sinister

Pub date October 1, 2008
SectionArts & CultureSectionLiterature

› a&

With Litquake fast approaching and his new book hitting the shelves, the time is right to check in with San Francisco writer, comedian, and reluctant self-help guru, Bucky Sinister. Yes, you heard that right: self-help guru. Move over Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew and every other faux-folksy TV platitude-puss. Mr. Sinister has the kind of wisdom — and writing skills — that can only come from experience. Below, he talks about creativity, redemption, and Get Up: A 12-Step Guide for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos (Conari Press, 176 pages, $14.95).

SFBG How did you come to write a 12-step book?

BUCKY SINISTER I’ve been sober for six years, and I was doing shows about my experiences. One of the editors at Conari Press saw me and asked if I wanted to write a book.

SFBG How is Get Up different from other 12-step books?

BS When I was an addict, there were two things that kept me out of programs. One, I thought, "If I get sober, I won’t be able to write anymore." And two, I thought, "If I join, they’re going to try and make me believe in God." But I found out those things weren’t true. That’s what this book is about. You don’t have to believe in God and you don’t have to stop being creative to get sober.

SFBG As an atheist, how do you get around the higher power question?

BS My main thing is something I call the Ideal Image. A lot of the things we admire in people we don’t have in ourselves. But then you tell yourself these qualities are within your power. You’re going to have to work on it. But if you keep that Ideal Image number one in your mind, it’ll guide you. The same way that religious people have God.

SFBG Not to put you on the spot, but what are some Bay Area writers you think people should go out and read?

BS David Lerner, Eli Coppola, and Jack Micheline — he’s Matt Gonzalez’s favorite poet, by the way. You should probably also include Vampyre Mike Kassel — that guy was something.

Also, there’s Michelle Tea, Beth Lisick, Daphne Gottlieb, and Alvin Orloff.

SFBG Why do you like them?

BS They’re all different, but if you put them all in an anthology, you get a pretty good idea of what it’s like to live in SF.

SFBG Some of your short stories are compressed like poetry. Where did you learn to write prose that way?

BS I learned to write from Jon Longhi, a Bay Area writer. When I was younger, I wanted to do a pop transgressive thing, like Dennis Cooper’s [short story] "Hitting Bedrock." There’s no redemption in the kind of stuff I was reading when I was learning to write fiction.

SFBG How would that tie in with what you’re doing in Get Up?

BS Being in my 20s, I was looking to shock people. Now I’ve come to be at peace with myself more and I don’t just want to freak someone out. The goal of Get Up is to help people. Fuck, I never had that goal before.


Sat/11, 8:30 p.m.

Dog Eared Books

900 Valencia, SF

(415) 282-1901