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Les Burns, Retired Teacher

“I’ve written about 3,000 pages, so either it’s more than one book or it needs a lot of editing. I’m in a race with Proust.”

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What did you teach?
Idiots.

Really.
English, both high school and college. I retired about seven years ago.

What have you been doing since then?
I’m writing a book about the sex lives of New Yorkers. It’s all fiction, except for the sex parts. Or maybe it’s vice versa.

Is it autobiographical?
I used all the experiences I could get my hands on, including my own.

So you’ve had an interesting love life?
“Interesting” is an interesting word. I had a friend who told me that the worst thing her daughter could say about anything was that it was “interesting.” I was married about twelve years, and I’ve been involved with a number of people, yes.

What was your favorite book to teach?
The Odyssey. My book is sort of like a modern reworking of The Odyssey. If you think about it, The Odyssey is really about sailing from woman to woman. And there are monsters all around, some of them indistinguishable from the women.

Interview by Emma Rosenblum


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