Mark Baumer: First Walking Across America, Now Eating Pizza Every Day
Mark Baumer, a graduate student in the MFA program at Brown, has not yet become the next Michael Chabon. But he has gotten some attention for doing ideosyncratic things, which is arguably a better way of becoming a successful writer than getting an MFA. He recently decided to walk across America, and chronicled the experience on his blog. Not a bad idea, really, particularly if one does not yet have a contract with Faber & Faber. Baumer's next project is something slightly more sedentary, probably a good thing given the workshops he's doubtless required to attend: he has decided that he's going to eat nothing but pizza from now on, and that he will document the experiment on his blog. We emailed Baumer to ask him about his project, specifically why in hell he decided to eat pizza every day for the foreseeable future, and he responded at some length. Of course he did. He's a writer. Turn the page. (For the record, we do not know if this sort of thing would get you into the creative writing program at Irvine or not. )
"There is no concrete explanation for the pizza experiment. It is possible that I may eat pizza every day for the rest of my life. I once bought two slices of pizza on a Sunday and the face of a man that was my reflection in the grease said, 'Eat pizza today, eat pizza tomorrow, eat pizza infinitely.' I spoke to a friend and he said, 'Dip your dough in hoisin sauce and avoid the tomato.' I will try his recipe on the chinese new year. On a monday I bought a bag of dough from a market. The world was a struggle. I had trouble. The dough filled with holes. I crawled through the holes and tried to fill them with cheese. I tasted my creation. It remained in my stomach, a mess of failed dough and veggies. I slept poorly that night. My legs filled with the holes of the dough. I worried I was making a mistake with my life. I worried corporate america would not accept my future appearance because it would be filled with the face of a reflection of a man of a face that resembled two slices of pizza. My dress shirts would be oily. I woke up with a stomach ache. Andre, my friend from Colombia, flew into town. We went for a jog. He came over after he showered. A long-haired blond man came into the kitchen in the arms of a long-black-haired man. The long-haired blond man gave me a bread maker. I made a batch of dough in the bread maker. Andre said, 'Our fortunes have expanded.' Two hours passed. We sat on a carpet and spread grains of future bags of wheat flour. The dough rose and beeped. Andre showed me how to spread a thin crust. He touched the dough with olive oil, garlic salt, crushed red pepper, and basil. We cut veggies together in the heat of the kitchen. He asked if I had fresh garlic. I didn't. I worried the pizza had failed. Andre said, 'fresh garlic is not essential.' We put a round sheet in the oven. We sweat on the linoleum while we waited. A thin crisp arrived ten minutes later. We tasted our lesson. It was a success. My knowledge had expanded. The experience of infinite pizza feels possible."
You can follow Baumer's experiment on his blog, i am a blog.