Bob-Waksberg, creator of BoJack Horseman, examines love in its various forms in his first collection, Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory (Knopf, May).
In the past, you’ve talked about having written for comics or playwriting, but you’ve never mentioned fiction. Why these stories, and why now?
The “now” is that I’ve collected enough of them to make a book, but these are stories I’ve worked on for years. I wasn’t sharing them with anybody, or I would post something on my blog that a couple hundred people would read and that would be that. They didn’t have to go through the process that a lot of my other writing does, which is getting notes from people and trying to make it perfect and trying to get it ready for a mass audience. So, for a while, these stories felt like my little secret or my way to burn off creativity and write stuff that didn’t feel like a job.
Can you talk about how you play with form in this collection?
I’m very interested in the ways to frame stories and tell stories. We do that a lot on BoJack Horseman as well. And I really enjoy taking a form or a premise that feels very light or silly or limiting on the surface and hacking away at it until I find the raw, naked, beating heart underneath it. My sister commented on my book; she said, “I was surprised by how many times I thought I knew what a story was and realizing as I read it that it went deeper.” I don’t know about deeper, but certainly weirder.
Your stories have a bit of a George Saunders feel—who do you admire in the realm of fiction?
Oh sure. I’d love to lie and say “No, never heard of him,” but he’s a big influence. I’m really excited to write a book of short stories because I love short fiction particularly. I have a short attention span. Katherine Heiny’s book just came out. Her story “How to Give the Wrong Impression,” which I read 20 years ago in high school and which I loved, was a very big influence. Sarah Manguso’s last book, 300 Arguments, I really loved. What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah blew my mind. I am really excited by the form of short fiction. I don’t know how everyone writes a novel; that sounds exhausting.
Did you learn something about your writing from putting this book together?
Some of these stories I feel very strongly that I could not write now. I like getting these missives from this other, earlier version of me and going “Oh, this person had interesting things to say.” I don’t know if I agree with all of them, but it’s a nice perspective to take into consideration.