Zoe Whittall, The Spectacular
Zoe Whittall is the author of 'The Spectacular'
| Credit: Ali Eisner; Hodder & Stoughton

Zoe Whittall is no stranger to the written word: She's published three novels and three poetry collections, and written on shows like Schitt's Creek and Degrassi. Now, on the heels of her latest novel, The Spectacular — which chronicles three generations of women (a cellist in an indie rock band, her mother, and her grandmother) as they seek to build their best life — the author looks back on the pieces of pop culture that have inspired her work and offered solace during times of struggle.

The first book I remember loving

Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes and Paula Danziger's The Pistachio Prescription. I re-read those over and over as a kid. I lived on a farm with no bookstore nearby — Scholastic Book Fair day at school was the best day of my life, where I would pick up every new book in the Baby-Sitters Club series.

The movie I watch over and over

In my teens and 20s I must have watched Harold and Maude dozens of times. During the pandemic I've been rewatching John Hughes and Nora Ephron classics — the comfort food movies.

The last book that made me cry

I cried recently while reading Sarah Schulman's Let The Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993. I was feeling so hopeless that week about COVID and how so few people care about collective responsibility, and here was this giant tome of how a group of disenfranchised people literally fought for their lives while their government was trying to kill them.

The last book that made me laugh out loud

The first book in the Vernon Subutex trilogy, by Virginie Despentes. She can skewer a Gen X man like no one else.

The writer who made me want to be a writer

Jeanette Winterson made me want to write novels. Amy Sherman-Palladino made me want to write for television, not just because of Gilmore Girls but also the best season of the original Roseanne. Eileen Myles made me want to write poetry.

The TV show I wish I'd written

The Other Two. It's the funniest and most realistically queer-ish comedy I've ever seen on TV, one that eschews sentimentality or inspiration-bait with straight viewers in mind.

The fictional world I wish I could live in

I'd like a little cottage in Stars Hollow [the fictional town in Gilmore Girls] especially these days, because it's a very comforting but entertaining place, or to be writing poetry in a little Paris apartment like the narrator of Lisa Robertson's The Baudelaire Fractal. I miss traveling and that feeling of sitting in a hotel room, looking out at a new city while you write.

The last TV show I binged

I binged Hacks, Feel Good, Black Monday, and Girls5eva, and they were all perfect from start to finish. 

The book or author I wish more people knew about

My favorite poet is Ali Liebegott. Her last book, The Summer of Dead Birds, was just a masterpiece.

The TV show I wish everyone would watch

It's a toss-up between SMILF, which I think was doing something new and innovative for a half-hour dramedy, and Shrill, specifically season 1's pool party episode, written by Samantha Irby.

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