Find an obsessive friend who talks about health and fitness all the time—a man who isn’t self-conscious about being fixated on diet and exercise. Model yourself after him for a while. Pretend you are a member of a shamanic religion, and you must embody his archetype the way you embody the archetype of a Hunter-God or Healer-God. His iPhone fitness Apps become your sacred bundle; his cardio and strength-training regimen become your ritual worship; his hand-written notes on loose-leaf paper about macro-nutrients become your holy text. Whenever you fail in these daily devotionals, don’t punish yourself. Just reembody your obsessive friend.
Phong Nguyen is co-editor of Pleiades and author of Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History (2014) and Memory Sickness and Other Stories (2011). He co-directs the Unsung Masters Series, for which he edited the volume, Nancy Hale: On the Life and Work of a Lost American Master (2012). Nguyen teaches fiction and American literature at the University of Central Missouri, where he lives with his wife, the artist Sarah Nguyen, and their three children. From August 2012 to June 2013, he lost 102 pounds in the manner described above.
Phong Nguyen’s new book:
Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History
At critical moments in world history, every political, spiritual, and cultural leader foresaw a different destiny. Columbus planned a Western sea route to Asia; Hitler applied to art school twice; Joan of Arc prophesied that she would become a mother. It is out of their failures that history itself is made. But what if the history-makers succeeded in the fulfillment of their best-laid plans? In Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History, Phong Nguyen explores a myriad of pasts in which these icons of history made a different choice, and got what they wished for.
Where to find it: Queens Ferry Press