Literary Hub

Marcy Dermansky on Writing Self-Centered Men in Post-Trump America

This week The Maris Review, Marcy Dermansky joins Maris Kreizman to discuss her latest novel Very Nice.

On relating to her male characters

Maris Kreizman: You tell the story from many different perspectives. What was it like embodying a kind of down-on-his-luck but very literary, bro-ish dude?

Marcy Dermansky: It was very interesting, very fun to write. I haven’t written much from a male perspective at all. There are two male perspectives in this book, the bro-ish dude and also the father. It was great. That character was an amalgam of many famous writers in my mind—

MK: I was going to ask you to name them!

MD: I will not. [laughter] The funny thing is, I slip into a lot of his concerns and worries and looking at his phone at 3am expecting a text from his editor, and it’s like, that’s me! But I’m not a man and as famous as him, but I do get my stuff in.


On characterization

MD: When you write, it sounds so corny, but you do go into a different place, and these characters have minds of their own and write their own sentences, speak their own dialogues. It’s really fun.

MK: So, Zaheed, the writer/professor/house-guest is an acclaimed writer but he’s having trouble with the second book. So he’s been teaching. He feels bad for himself in a way that, it seems, that only a self-centered man could.

MD: Yeah, I don’t think a woman would be quite so self-pitying.


On political writing

MK: This is a real post-Trump book.

MD: I feel like I’m a very political person, but I’m not a political writer. I don’t, for instance, tweet—well, I do now; everybody does—but I was very surprised to be writing about politics. Basically, I was writing after the election, and I was going through everybody’s stream of consciousness. I hope all these voices sound different, and some people agree and some disagree. But basically, my thoughts about what was going on in America, and what I was feeling, just seeped into the book.


Marcy Dermansky is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Red Car, Bad Marie and Twins. Very Nice is her latest novel.

Recommended Books:

Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet · Look How Happy I’m Making You by Polly Rosenwaike

More from Literary Hub

Literary Hub2 min read
Can Digital Activism Solve the Information Crisis?
In this episode of Keen On, Andrew talks to Eli Pariser, author of the iconic book The Filter Bubble and founder of Upworthy, about digital activism, the contemporary crisis of information, and why we need to build a better Internet. From the episode
Literary Hub6 min read
Lit Hub Recommends: Hadestown, Ling Ma, Madeline Miller, Jean Echenoz, and More
Two months ago, I recommended The Mushroom at the End of the World, and this month I still can’t get enough stories about things that grow in strange, disturbed, sometimes-ugly places. William Bryant Logan’s New York Times essay on Fresh Kills Landfi
Literary Hub5 min read
Why Do I Recite the Same Paul Celan Poem to All My Dates?
You were doing it again, my roommate Renee accused me one morning, turning off the hairdryer, sticking her head out the bathroom like a hand-puppet. I heard you Corona-ing last night through the wall. We all have material that works; sparkling coming