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The novelist — whose first essay collection, The Hard Crowd, is out April 6 — tells EW what stresses her out the most.

By Seija Rankin
April 05, 2021 at 10:00 AM EDT
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Rachel Kushner, THE HARD CROWD
Credit: Gabby Laurent; Scribner

Rachel Kushner has built her career writing complex, highly intellectual novels. She was a National Book Award nominee for her 2008 debut, Telex From Cuba, as well as 2013's The Flamethrowers, and her most recent novel, The Mars Room, was nominated for a Booker prize. But between all her impactful fiction, Kushner has been writing essays and reporting on all sorts of platforms. The Hard Crowd is her first collection of nonfiction work, in which she expands on many of the themes present in her fiction (motorcycling, prison reform, the intersection of art and capitalism). To celebrate the book's April 6 release, she participated in EW's High Anxiety column, where she opens up about her biggest fears.

1. Heights

My husband and son love to jump off very high rocks and cliffs into the sea. To them, this is "fun." I once tried to jump off a rock that was only about six feet high, at their urging. The problem is, once you decide to jump, you can't change your mind. And frankly I reserve the right to change my mind about anything at any time!

2. Ball sports

I never learned to play any sports for some reason, and my lifelong technique, in regard to balls — be it a tennis ball, volleyball, whatever kind of ball — is that if a ball is coming right directly toward me, my strategy is to move away from it as quickly as possible. This works well, and I recommend it.

3. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining

The Shining is a masterpiece of plot, direction, and dare I say, interior design, but it is also unbearably scary. The only antidote to this film's terror is to pair it with the very short film Kubrick's 17-year-old daughter made, behind the scenes of its filming. One is calmed to be reminded that it is all a set, a fiction.

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