What’s the strangest or most interesting job you’ve ever had?
I once sold knock-off perfumes in parking lots all over Los Angeles. I’d seen an ad in the paper. I showed up for an interview, which consisted of myself and 40 other people jammed into a room and shown wads of money that could be ours if we just broke the law a few hours a day. We were told not to worry if we got arrested, that the company would bail us out. We were given a script that was invasive, yet compelling, with which to approach customers as they walked out of Walmart: Does your girlfriend wear perfume? Yeah? What kind? Okay, but I’m selling Obsesssion for half as much. Smells the exact same; I got about 50 bottles in the trunk of my car. Surprisingly, the job wasn’t that hard. The perfume really did smell the same and who doesn’t want to save a buck or two? I probably made more money doing that job than I have as a writer in all my years since, combined.
Five books I love but am too scared to reread lest I hate them now, thus forcing myself to question which aesthetic (Fiona then, Fiona now) to trust, since it’s always possible I have become too demanding, fussy, implacable, and impatient over the years:
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
A Death in the Family by James Agee
Light in August by William Faulkner
Angels by Denis Johnson
U and I by Nicholson Baker
Read the rest of our Q&A with Fiona Maazel: http://powells.us/11xNmcy