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Kathryn Stockett: Life in the belle jar

Can the best-selling, anxious, overrated, vulgar, talented, burned-out author Help herself?



Page 4 of 4

  • Penguin Publishing

At dinner, Stockett divulges that the divorce with her husband became final a few weeks ago. There is silence at the table for a few seconds as the news settles in. "Oh, a new spin! No one's printed that yet!" she says. Stockett met her ex, Keith Rogers, while in New York and they have an 8-year-old daughter, Lila. They moved to Atlanta a few years ago, before Stockett sold the book.

The thrill in her voice goes out as quickly as it came, and she asks, "Have you ever slept with a snorer? For 11 years? Have you ever slept with a snorer for a month? You start out not sleeping. Then you move on to getting up to go sleep somewhere else. And then the next stage is that you actually start sleeping in separate bedrooms. And then the next stage is that you start sleeping in separate floors of the house. And then you just get different places."

Stockett takes a second to regroup. "So, maybe I could just offer some advice to any couples out there with a man who has a snoring problem? He needs to take care of that shit." She's laughing now and then she isn't again.

Stockett has a way of looking back at you blankly, of smiling just a little over her wine glass, of being silent in a certain way that makes you feel like she is either baring her soul one word at a time or making it up as she goes along.

There is an obvious disconnect between Stockett and her status as a best-selling author. "It has nothing do with who I am as a writer," she says. But the thing is, it very apparently does. The business of having a best-seller has weighed on her, and it has very much to do with her being a writer today.

"I'm hoping and praying for the day that I can sit down and write again," she says. "I know it won't be the same, but it would make me feel better. You know the anxiety of knowing you have to do something and putting it off for two years?"

She pauses. "I couldn't have another baby because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to write — to finish the book."

The plates aren't really finished, but the waiter takes them anyway. The bottle of wine is certainly done. Stockett checks her phone and puts it back in her purse. "It doesn't mean I'm going to write great books," she says and then lowers her voice. "I'm just stuck being a fucking writer my whole life. If I'm not writing I'm miserable."

A week later, Stockett shows up to the Creative Loafing offices for a photo shoot, apologizing profusely for being a couple of hours late. She's leaving the next day for Los Angeles for a press junket that means days more of interviews, days and days of the same five questions, of the slight glazing over of her eyes.

She alternates between confident and off put in front of the camera, joking with the photographer one minute and asking for it to please be over the next. She talks about going on a date. She says that if she could, if she weren't tied into a contract, that she'd probably never write as Kathryn Stockett again, that she'd just pick another name and start fresh.

She says that her publisher's being patient about her second book, that she doesn't even really get any pressure from them. But what about the pressure from herself? What about the expectations? What about all the extra attention that the film is going to bring?

Stockett just looks straight ahead and says, "There are people with bigger problems, you know?"

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