I never really feel like I’ve given myself away, in a piece; the “first person” isn’t you; you’re zero. The first person already involves the assertion of a mask. As for the balance, I feel about it precisely as one would at a meal or on a boat with strangers, wanting to talk about myself enough not to seem closed off, but never so much as to bore them, and always watching, in a probably paranoid way, for that moment, that line, when I’ve talked a sentence too long, and added a detail after they’d lost interest in the subject. The eyes people get at that moment, they glaze over and go dead, in an uncontrollable primate way—we can’t help it. I hate and fear those eyes. This isn’t exactly a heroic vision of the writer, but it’s natural. I am trying to charm the reader because I want him and her to come with me deeper into the piece. If you can bring them with you there, things get more interesting.
-John Jeremiah Sullivan, interviewed by Greg Gerke for The Rumpus.