Hannah Pittard, WE ARE TOO MANY: A Memoir [Kind Of]

Hannah Pittard, WE ARE TOO MANY: A Memoir [Kind Of]

Zibby interviews author Hannah Pittard, delving into her deeply personal journey as a writer. Hannah candidly discusses her struggle with credit card debt during grad school, a theme she later incorporated into her second novel, REUNION, as a form of confession and self-accountability. She also opens up about a painful personal betrayal involving her ex and close friend, explored in her sensational, genre-busting new memoir WE ARE TOO MANY. This betrayal led her to therapy, where she sought to understand her desires and relationship dynamics. The interview highlights Hannah’s journey from overcoming financial and emotional challenges to finding her unique voice in the literary world.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Hannah. Thank you for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” in this interesting recording situation. We are at the Miami Book Fair. They have coordinated this meeting, which is so wonderful to be in person. Thank you so much.

Hannah Pittard: I’m so excited to be here. We are in what is a beautiful office, if you’re a professor, which I am. There’s a patio and a view.

Zibby: True.

Hannah: Glass half full.

Zibby: What else could we possibly need? We have some books here. We have a whiteboard. We could start making plans.

Hannah: We’re not going through anything. We’re not opening anyone’s drawers. We won’t meddle.

Zibby: We Are Too Many. Tell listeners about your book, please.

Hannah: I wrote a memoir. I’m not, by trade, a nonfiction writer or a memoirist. I’m a novelist. During the time of COVID, and especially those first couple months alone when I think we were all readjusting to isolation, I tried to work on a new book. I tried to work on fiction. It was almost as though I’d lost my ability because it felt very much like I was living in a fiction. I started reading a lot of nonfiction. I started reading things that were grounding me to reality. After that wore off, it was just me and my brain. What I realized was a lot of the silence that I was having in my brain and a lot of that isolation time allowed me to start thinking about events from my past, and specifically, from my divorce. There were certain conversations that I could not get out of my head. I think the busyness of life after divorce of reconstructing a life and getting back to teaching, it allowed certain unfinished business to stay unfinished for a while so that when there was suddenly this calm and void, those conversations came back. I wanted them gone. What I did is what I naturally do. I wrote them down. I started writing them down. It wasn’t necessarily immediately thinking that it would be a book. At first, those conversations were just for me. I thought I could expunge them. Then the more I wrote, the more I thought, these are kind of interesting conversations. Some of them are sexy. Some of them crazy. Some of them I think people could learn from. I shared some very early drafts with my agent. I’m going to paraphrase here, but she said, essentially, “I don’t know why I want to keep reading, but I want to keep reading. It’s a hot mess, and I’m interested. Keep going.” I did.

Zibby: Amazing. The format itself is really interesting for a memoir and to get us into the characters’ lives. You have a nice introduction where you explain what happened after you wrote about real people, which of course, is an issue when you’re writing fiction and memoir, but when fiction becomes very close or people recognize themselves — although, they tend to even when it’s not even them, but that’s okay. You get into some hot water. You start talking about that and then all of these scenes, both real and imagined, to piece together what happened. Why dialogue? You could’ve gone back and turned it into prose. You kept it as a screenplay, almost, all of the different sections, short sections. Why? How did you decide to keep it like that?

Hannah: Part one, it’s almost entirely dialogue. Part of that was simply because that is how it was presenting itself in my memory. The other part of that was, especially writing about myself and, necessarily, about the people who were involved in my divorce, I wanted to stay away from ascribing them motivation. What I could do is remember what they said. I could remember what I said. I didn’t want to get into the tricky territory of saying, and I think she said this to hurt me. I think he said this deliberately trying to needle me. I didn’t want to do that because I don’t know. I have ideas. We all have ideas why people do things. I can armchair analyze with the best of them. In fact, I absolutely love doing it in my own time, but not while writing. With this tricky set of circumstances and with this tricky set of people, I just wanted to present the facts, and facts should be in air quotes, but as I remembered them and leave the motivation off the page. That’s how it started.

There was a point in writing the dialogue where I realized as a writer and also as a reader, you can only do so much of that without it becoming overwhelming and possibly even boring. I wrote that first part and sat on it for a while. Then I had this realization that there was something that I’d been doing since the day my ex moved out, and that was having conversations with him, still, in my head. I did it all the time even though at the time of writing it, it was five years later. I was in a happy relationship. I’d bought a house with a man. I’m helping raise his daughter. My life is drastically different, but being completely honest, which is what I was trying to be with that book, my ex-husband’s voice was still there. Sometimes it was an unfair voice. It was what I thought he’d say. I’d make him really mean. Sometimes I gave him this grace. I gave me a kind of grace. I thought, what would’ve happened? These two people who, before they ever started dating, who were best friends, what would happen if they could have a conversation now and just get a lot of it out of the way?

I realized that felt like a natural part two. I knew it couldn’t be too long. I knew, in some ways, that might be the most dangerous territory because I am ascribing him a voice. It might be, also, where I think a lot of the “kind of” in the title comes from. It’s A Memoir . At the same time, I think what I’m doing in part two feels the most honest to me because I’m admitting to a fantasy that is all mine. It’s so personal. I put this conversation in. It was also where I wanted to — this is going to sound strange. I wanted to give him a voice where he could challenge me because I know that he would have challenged me. I know that there were certain things that I might have included that, given the opportunity, he would say, I told you point-blank it didn’t happen that way. That’s not how the affair started. Why would you have included this? I included it because that was what gnawed at me. I had this image of how it happened, so I wanted to include that. I also wanted to give my hypothetical version of him an opportunity to say, I cry bull. I wanted it, also, to be sweet. I think it’s where we attack each other the most. I think it’s where I come across the most flawed. At the end of part two, you really get to see the kind of tenderness there was and the reason that we were best friends. I will say, my partner now — he read the book. He read it early before it was published.

Zibby: Your partner now and your ex?

Hannah: He did not. My ex did not read it. My partner now, when he read the book, I deliberately tried to stay out of the room when he was reading it because otherwise, I’m a terrible person. If you laugh, I say, what’d you laugh at? I’m the worst.

Zibby: What did you think about that? I saw your face. Your eye moved a millimeter. It means you didn’t like that, right?

Hannah: Exactly. You’re a writer. You know this. I’m horrible to be in a room with if you’re reading my work. I saw him tear up. Then he actually wiped a tear out of his eye. He put it down. He said, “I just finished part two. I think I understand it a little bit more.” That was so huge that I was able to make my partner cry by being really honest about the relationship I had had before him, the relationship I learned so much from that I’m able to be in this much better relationship now. That was part two. I knew that could only go on for so long. It’s right there in the center. It’s funny because that’s the one where, when I handed part two in to my agent — I think a lot of agents are this way. I love mine. I’ve been with her for a decade. I think she’s brilliant. She’s got this very calming voice. She’s not often really excited, which is probably good. What it means is when she is excited, I knew I’m onto something. After part two, she called me. She said, “I cannot wait until this book is published because I have a friend who is going through this. What you said about the dobro, she has with cameras. There are thirty women that I am going to hand it to.” I was so excited because I knew I was onto something there, that I had tapped into, being so particular, into something kind of universal.

Zibby: Totally. We had so many people who were coming into my bookstore asking for memoirs or novels. What books can we read for a friend who’s getting a divorce or going through a divorce or whatever? I’ve actually started a whole new section of books just for that.

Hannah: That’s so smart.

Zibby: If you’re going through a painful divorce, love and heartbreak, and all of that. What you went through, it’s your story, but it has so much universality, as you say. There are so many emotions that you can relate to. No relationship is perfect. No person is perfect. We get to know all the flaws of your ex, but also of you. You’re really open about it. Sometimes I’m like, I can’t believe any relationships even work out.

Hannah: I know. I feel the same way. It’s really funny. Helen Ellis, she’s a friend of —

Zibby: — I love Helen Ellis.

Hannah: She’s so amazing and so funny and so smart, writes the best books. She was the first person to offer me a blurb for this. Hers was, she wanted to go to high school students and pass it out to girls in high school to say, here’s what not to do. I was having dinner with Maggie Smith. Also, her own beautiful divorce memoir. I was having dinner with her last night. She was talking about what she’d always imagined was her ideal readership for her book. She was thinking forty-one and up. I said, “Maggie, my undergrads, eighteen to twenty-two, my grad students, they aren’t married. They love it.” They treat that book like a Bible. It means so much to them. I think it’s tapping into something that is a very female experience regardless of whether or not you have kids, whether or not you’ve ever been married. I just so admire books and writers who can do things like that.

Zibby: Let’s just talk about Maggie’s book. I’m kidding.

Hannah: I know. I’m going to be doing that at two o’clock.

Zibby: I know. Perfect.

Hannah: We’re supposed to talk about each other’s books. I was like, “Maggie, listen, they’re there for you. I’m basically just going to highlight you. I’m just going to shine a light around you.”

Zibby: Both of you took a different form to tell a story. It’s not just standard prose, which I find really interesting. Often, when you’re going through anything, whether — it’s almost a trauma when you go through the loss. I shouldn’t say almost. It is a trauma when you go through the loss of your most central relationship. You can’t always think about it in prolonged prose. It can be like, what about this? You just keep replaying all the things.

Hannah: Absolutely. That’s why, in part three, which I think of as my most traditional section where I’m just telling these short anecdotes, not unlike Maggie’s short anecdotes, it took me a year to realize what I had done accidentally. I can look back and say I did it deliberately, but I didn’t. Part one, there’s all of this noise in the data. It’s everyone’s voices. Part two, I’m able to eliminate everything except my ex and me talking. I wrote it in that order. Part one is where I’m finally able to speak without the experimental performance of the other modes, the other structures. I’m just using the first-person pronoun. I’m able to talk about me in a way that — it’s very uncomfortable. That’s why I’m a fiction writer. I love to make up stories. I imbue so many of my characters with myself. That’s very easy. To say, “I did this. I couldn’t sleep at night. I watched Netflix for ten hours at night and took my dog’s pills to try to sleep –“

Zibby: — I loved that part, though. I love it. I love that. You only did it once, though, you said.

Hannah: I did only do it once. I also am an oversharer now. I think the more we share, the more we make connections. Who doesn’t love to make connections? There’s always some person who, when you admit something, what you think is the embarrassing piece, you see one or twelve hands go up in the audience. Now I’m on trazodone. It’s how I sleep. It’s my prescription. It has my name on it. It’s something we all laugh about in my family. My sister’s like, “You don’t need your dogs anymore. You are the dog. You have become the dog.”

Zibby: I actually accidentally took my dog’s medicine. Not on purpose. I was pregnant at the time. I was totally distracted with my other kids. I just was talking to somebody. I put the pill in my hand. Instead of giving it to the dog, I just took it. Then all of a sudden, I was like, oh, my god, I just took my dog’s medicine. My husband, now my ex, was like, “Call the doctor. What did you do?” I called my OB. She was like, “Well, call me if you start barking.”

Hannah: That’s the best answer. I love when doctors have a sense of humor.

Zibby: It was obviously completely fine. Turns out you can take your dog’s medicine.

Hannah: You just won’t get heartworm. You’re heartworm safe for a month.

Zibby: Actually, it was gabapentin. It was a pain medicine. I’m sure I felt great the rest of the day. Anyway, you shared so much in the book about your own history with eating disorders and how it started and the friend that made it sort of click that you could do this. You just chart for us the whole progression of it, where you found it almost avoidable, it seems. There was a question mark. You were like, my life was going in this direction. I hadn’t even thought about my body. I was just tall and thin, which only a tall and thin person could actually say. You were like, I didn’t even think about it until this friend was doing what I was doing, but on purpose and better, in a way. Then you were like, well, I only want to eat Skittles too. I should do this. You got caught up in it. Then it went on and on. Talk about, a little bit, how it felt to write about your whole history of eating disorders. Are you okay putting it out there? Even at the end when you were like, you know, I still do these tricks, I still measure my — your relationship with your body now, how did the writing make you feel about it?

Hannah: I loved being honest about it. It was such an unnecessary secret for so long. I think there’s this shame that we are taught when we’re little, especially young girls, but I do know there are boys who suffer from this as well, but there’s this shame that goes along with wanting to control our bodies and the methods that we use it, and so we don’t ask for help. We don’t articulate what’s going on. I write in the book that I had read a lot — I was a pretty precocious young child, so I knew that there was something going on. I knew I shouldn’t be doing it. I was ashamed of it rather than scared of it. I read about, why might a young, ambitious, somehow intelligent girl like me do this? When I caught that line about, “It’s a way to control your situation,” I glommed onto that, that this was about control. I do certainly think it was about control, but it was also, at a certain point, it did become an obsession with the body. These two things — I couldn’t control my parents’ divorce and the ten-year custody battle, which was insane. That was out of my control. I do think I was looking for attention and at the same time, terrified of being caught, which I think is the human heart in conflict with itself. Both things can be true.

It was a relief, really, to sit down and to pinpoint those moments, pinpoint the Skittles, and pinpoint that day on the bus where somebody pointed out that I was skinny. You’re right, only a skinny, tall person can say, I had no idea of what my body looked like. My sister and I have talked a lot about this. She’s beautiful. She does not have the exact same body that I have. We’ve talked about how she was struggling the whole time in a much different way. She never made unhealthy decisions like I made. That secret was so secret for so long. I think it impacted so many relationships, just the way you have to get up from a dinner table, just the way that you have to pretend to want to be alone. Then depending on whether or not you’ve gotten your eyes puffy, you have to pretend to be upset at something. There’s just so much. There’s a butterfly effect happening of wanting to expel food from your body. Then there’s the day that it’s no longer control. It’s no longer your body. You’re just stuck in this horrible, horrible pattern. I wanted to put it on the paper because I want there to be mothers and fathers who read about this and who are aware of this. I want there to be girls who read it and think, I’m close to doing something like that. It’s not embarrassing. It’s something that I need help for. I also wanted to put it on the paper so I’m accountable. I tell anybody who will ask about it. Again, it goes into oversharing, but it’s a bit of self-protection for me. If people know about it, then I’m much less inclined to do it.

Within the last six months, there have been moments where I have had to say to my partner, “We need to go downstairs and watch a movie. I need you to know that what I would love to be doing is being in a toilet by myself and getting rid of this food.” He’ll just say, “Let’s go downstairs. Let’s watch a movie. What do you need from me?” Just having somebody that you can say, “There’s nothing more that I’d like to do than get rid of this food,” and for them not to tell you there’s something wrong with you, but that they’ll sit through it with you — once I’m on the other side, I’m always so relieved that I didn’t do it. I also equate it to alcoholism. I’m not an alcoholic, but I’ve known alcoholics in my family, related, blood, not related to me. I’ve read enough about it. It’s this thing that you carry with you. In the same way, they have to make choices every single day. I have to make choices every single day. If I could give a gift to all women out there — again, I know that men and boys suffer from it too. If I could give this gift to women of just never ever having that awareness of, my body looks better this way, or I wish my body looked my friend Brenda, or Janet’s so much thinner, that is the gift I would give to everyone. Just suck it out of it. Never to have that.

Zibby: That would be amazing.

Hannah: I know. It’s such a waste of time. Emma Thompson talks a lot about it. Kate Winslet talks a lot about it. I love listening to them talk about what a waste of time it is. I don’t think they mean it judgmentally at all. There are so many other things we could be doing, like writing our sixth book or second book or first book or illustrating a children’s book or learning to make pasta from scratch. There are so many other things that we could be doing, reading a Zibby book.

Zibby: Exactly, yes. I have so much respect for you for sharing all of it and sharing some of the low points of it and the secrets and the tactics, even. What you did, it’s almost confessional. I’m putting this out there. I’m going to share all this. Now I can move on from it. Sometimes until we do that, it’s still in there, right?

Hannah: It really is. This is not a plug for an earlier novel of mine, but I went into extreme credit card debt when I was in grad school. I never let anybody in my family know how extreme it was. I got myself into a debt repayment program. I finally got out of it when I was thirty-five or thirty-six. I think at some point, I confessed to being in this debt repayment program. People knew about that, but no one had any idea about the money. In my second novel — I’d finished it. I’d sold it. My editor, in that way that editors will do, when she bought it, she said, “It’s perfect. I love it,” and then once you sign, it’s, “So there’s just one thing missing.” She said, “There’s one thing missing.” I said, “Great. What is it? I’ll do it.” She said, “I don’t know, but I can tell you’re holding back something. This is a good book, but it’s missing the magic.” I took my dog on a lot of long walks. It was about these three siblings that were not unlike me and my brother and my sister, both of whom are hyper-achievers as well and very successful as well. I was waiting tables trying to write a book and also going into massive debt. There was this one day where I was walking my dog. By then, I was in the repayment program. A money sign went off in the top of my head. I didn’t have to rewrite the book. It was just going through, and I gave the narrator all of my numbers. I gave it everything I was paying. It was $890 a month to the debt repayment. I broke it down. There is a chapter, in fact, where I break down the exact numbers that I was paying every single month. That was my coming out to my family. They got the book. They said, “Wow, this is so specific.” I said, “Surprise, guys. I’ve been getting out of $40,000 debt for the last ten years. Celebration.” It’s also another personal accountability thing. Guess who’s not in debt now?

Zibby: You?

Hannah: Me.

Zibby: Yay! Congratulations.

Hannah: If there’s a credit card bill that comes, it gets paid off. I know I say it from a point of privilege that I’m able to do that, but I also make sure that I will never do that again. That book is there as a reminder to me all the time. I will not do it again because I could not sleep. It was every night, going through the numbers of what I owed. This is how we learn. At the same time, if I can help somebody else start to pull out their credit card and then say, wait a minute, didn’t I read a book about a young artist?

Zibby: What was that book called?

Hannah: It was called Reunion.

Zibby: I have to go read that now.

Hannah: It’s an artist. She keeps pulling out her credit card. She wants to be liked. She wants friends. She’ll get it because it’s just this silver card that you slide across the table.

Zibby: By the way, for anyone listening, if you happen to hear some background noise, as I mentioned before, we’re at the Miami Book Fair right now. There seems to be some sort of outside event occurring.

Hannah: It’s a party here, y’all.

Zibby: You’ll feel like you’re a part of the whole scene.

Hannah: It’s an advertisement for this book fest. It is lively.

Zibby: Another big theme of We Are Too Many is the betrayal of your ex and getting together with your really good friend Trish and then also how you chart your relationship with her, how you chart your relationship with him, and how you handled it when you found out that they had gotten together, which is so crushing.

Hannah: It was crushing.

Zibby: So crushing.

Hannah: It was so crushing. It was also the thing I was always scared of. It was always in the back of my head. I think that, more than anything, I was so disappointed in myself that sometimes it felt like I just kept pushing off the inevitable.

Zibby: No, it wasn’t inevitable. Just because you had a glimmer doesn’t mean it should have happened.

Hannah: It shouldn’t have happened. The way I found out, it was very sudden. It was the launch of my third book. I got the news. I was in New York, so I wasn’t at home. I was in New York. She was in New York. My now ex was in Upstate New York at a writer’s colony. We’re all in proximity together. The series of phone calls that happened so fast where — I called her. I asked her. She lied. I hung up the phone. She called me right back. She admitted it. She said, “Do you want me to have your husband call you?” I’ll never forget that. Do you want me to have your husband call me? I was like, “Never, never, ever, ever use that word with me again.” It felt like such a trespass. Then when she started blaming him on the phone, “He did this to put a wedge between us. It’s his fault,” using profanity to refer to him, I just said, “Thank you for your honesty.” I got off the phone. I didn’t call him because I knew that he was probably not awake. I got a phone call from him at about noon. It was just, “Did you have sex with her? Was it more than once? Do you think you’re in love? Thank you for your honesty.” I kept thanking both of them for their honesty because it blew me away that they weren’t lying. At about the same time, I knew some other people who were going through something similar. There was an affair, and everyone was lying about it. Everyone knew, but nobody would be honest. There’s this gaslighting that’s crazy. I was really grateful. It made it so simple. If he had chosen anyone else than the woman who introduced us, than the woman who I talked about my eating disorders with — she was the one before my partner who knew about my secrets. For this woman who had my secrets to make that choice and to lose them both at the same time, it wasn’t having the rug pulled out from under me, it was having the floorboards and the scaffolding pulled out from under me. I was a mess.

Zibby: How could you not have been a mess?

Hannah: The very first time I got in touch with a therapist after that, she said, “What do you want?” I said, “I don’t know. It’s been so long that I have been pleasing so many people. What I want is to know what I want. That is what I want. I don’t know what a good relationship looks like. I don’t know what a good friendship looks like. I know that I’m attracted to very witty, mean women, so we need to probably look at that. I know that I keep a lot of secrets, and so we should probably look at that because that must have impacted how I was in a relationship with my husband.” A lot of therapy wasn’t just dealing with the betrayal. It was also for me to figure out what I even think a life for me should look like. That took some time.

Zibby: I have to say, when you shared all of Trish’s habits and how basically every time she suggested a guy to you, she would go hook up with him or do something or whatever, I think there’s some pathology. Something is going on. That’s not the right word. She has something that has nothing to do with you. She has some issue. It’s self-sabotage because she’s going to just keep losing friends.

Hannah: I think so. With me, there was a kind of competition. At first, before the men got involved, I think I was flattered by the competition because she was so beautiful.

Zibby: But you’re so beautiful.

Hannah: Thank you. I really appreciate that.

Zibby: I mean it. Really, you are. It’s objective. It’s not even subjective.

Hannah: I thought she was beautiful. We were both in the same writing program. Her stories had that spark. I felt like my stories had that spark. We had this, I thought, very healthy writing competition. When she chose me as the person to take under her wing — she’s younger than me, but she was older than me in the program. She chose me. Having never been a cool girl up until that point — my brother was popular. My sister was popular. I was a wallflower who blushed and cried if you talked to me at a party. For her to choose me, I learned a lot about navigating bar culture from her. It’s nice for me to be able, especially on book tour — I travel a lot alone — to be able to go into a bar and eat a dinner alone. I can do that because of her. I’m completely confident enough to — if somebody wants to hit on me, I just reject them in a nice way. If I want to talk, I can. I’ve learned a kind of persona. I think a lot of people on book tour learn a kind of persona. There’s a lot that I did learn from her.

At the same time, there was that competition, the sexual competition. Like I said in the book, every time I’d feel it and I’d get this — a clarity was almost there of, this is not right. That was a mean thing that she just said. It was designed to make me feel vulnerable. It was designed to make me want to go home and vomit. Every time I’d get close to being able to say that, there would be something with my stepfather who adopted me in the hospital that would just be a turn for the worst. She lost somebody very close to her as well. We had this in common. Of all of my friends in grad school, she was the one who knew about a parent-like figure dying. She was so good at it. It was where she really shined. She was never judgmental. A lot of my other friends would really want to make a big deal about crying. Are you okay? What do we need to do? Do we all need to leave? She’d just say, I got your tab if you want to go. If you want to stay, we can. It’s up to you. Alone? What do you want? She didn’t treat me like a pariah. There was just this right amount of empathy. That’s how it always brought me back. It always brought me back. Then she was the first person to ever — I didn’t have boyfriends early. She was the first person to ever tell me I was sexy. Even when she told me that, I knew there was a kind of, why are you telling me this? You think I’m sexy. You’re the sexiest woman I know. It’s so flattering. I was actually just binge-watching Sex and the City, the first season, last night. It’s always what I do on book tour.

Zibby: It’s the best. It is absolutely the best show.

Hannah: I watched the one where Charlotte, for the first time, is dating this man who keeps calling her sexy. It turns out he’s looking for a three-way. Her friends keep saying, Charlotte, it’s not that you’re not sexy, but the reason he keeps telling you that you’re sexy is he wants you to feel sexy so that he can have this thing. As I was watching, I was like, I knew she wasn’t angling for a three-way, but there is something about that word and the way that it can catch you. It can catch you offhand. It’s a little excitement of, ooh, I’ve never even considered that before, what that might mean for the rest of my future.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh. There’s so much more to discuss. What are you working on now? What can we expect? What’s your next book? Will you write memoir, essays, all that again?

Hannah: For the first time in so long, I wrote a short story. I have a short story that my agent is shopping right now. I love it. It’s like I’ve remembered that kind of distilled —

Zibby: — Art?

Hannah: Yeah, art. I teach it to my students all the time. I read them all the time. I’ve lost that ability, until recently, to distill and that magic sauce that’s necessary. I wrote a piece. I’m really excited about that. In the meantime, I’ve just finished a novel. It is a novel, but it is a about a forty-three-year-old woman. It’s me. It’s basically me. It’s her navigating life as a stepmother and life not in the suburbs, but domesticity. It takes place in a Midwestern town. More and more of her family keeps moving to town, her sister, her biological father, her mother. There’s this real encroaching of this privacy that she’s always had. It’s about secrets. It’s about writing. I love it.

Zibby: It sounds amazing. I want to read it.

Hannah: I’m very excited about it. It’s experimental, not in the same way as We Are Too Many. I’m lucky in that I’ve got tenure, which is set for life in many ways. I could always mess it up. I think if I did cocaine on a desk with students watching, I could definitely lose my academic freedom and be fired. It does mean that I’m in a place where I can kind of write the books I want to write. They may not get published. I hope this one does. I think I’m writing at the height of my talent right now. It’s definitely about what it is to be a woman and have that interior life that I think so much of us have.

Zibby: Send it to Zibby Books. Can I get in on that? Let me take a peek.

Hannah: I was describing it to someone. I said if George Saunders and Robert Coover had a baby and Margaret Atwood was there to take photos, that’s what I’m doing. It’s very much about the female experience, but I want it to be intellectual because I think women are so smart. We’re always congratulated for how emotive we are and that we’re so empathetic, but what that really means is that ability to be empathetic is because we’re so hyper-intelligent that we’re able to make these connections and understand why people may be behaving. There’s something at that source. I’m really interested in giving that credit to women on the page. For somebody who started her career — I did — writing about men — my debut is men focusing on a woman. I have now gotten to the point — it’s something that’s happened in my forties. I just want to read about women. I just want to read about women’s minds. I want to read about them doing their daily lives and the way that — I’ll quote my partner here. I use this in my book. I totally believe, especially now that I’ve got a stepdaughter in my life, the days crawl, and the years fly. It has to be about what’s going on in those days that are making our lives. I really want to look at the tiny to explode it into the big and the universal.

Zibby: Amazing. Oh, my gosh. What’s the title for that? Working title?

Hannah: I have two different working titles. One of them is If You Love It, Let It Kill You, which is my family’s motto. The other one is Goat Show, which is the way that my family talks about an expletive show. If something is really bad or it’s just gone crazy, it’s a goat show. It’s a total goat show. I love a spondee for a title. Ann Patchett will tell you that. Put those two words that you see — Tom Lake. Do Tell. Goat Show. Bounce House. I love a spondee.

Zibby: Hannah, thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books,” especially with this crowd and all the excitement of the Miami Book Fair. Good luck on your panel. Thank you for the time.

Hannah: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Thank you, Zibby.

Zibby: Thank you.

WE ARE TOO MANY: A Memoir by Hannah Pittard

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