Excerpted interview with Barbara Walters, published on a website, 2014.
Barret claims to descend from polygamist ancestors, but he does it in a way where I can't tell if he is kidding or completely serious. Even though he reads constantly, his favorite short story is "The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich," by Nikolai Gogol. He is a member of the Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts union and a two-time recipient of the Steven Leiber and Leigh Markopoulos Scholarship. We chatted over buttered saltine crackers, room temperature grapes, and 375ml Perrier grapefruit sparkling water at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco.
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Barbara Walters: I've heard that you were born in a rather unconventional hospital.
Barret: Yes. I was born behind a Bon Marche fragrance counter in Seattle, Washington. A vigilant doctor walked by the counter when mother went into labor and was able to help out a bit with the delivery. I was enormous; I weighed 10 lbs and 6 oz.
BW: When did you first realize the universe was meaningless?
Barret: You know that elevator scene in (500) Days of Summer when Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt discover they both "love the Smiths"? I guess that was probably it.
BW: Interesting. Anything else?
Barret: The moment I realized that when you lose something, sometimes it doesn't come back to you. This one time I lost a pocket knife at my sister's baseball game. I was probably 8 years old. I even prayed, but I never found it.
BW: Who is Yuap Atomyu?
Barret: He started as my virtual personality for a joke. I've been trying him out now for a couple years and I thought I would tire of him, but I didn't.
BW: What distinguishes Yuap's voice from your own.
Barret: I'm still figuring him out, but I'm always envious of those characters in movies who blurt out huge monologue-confessions during a moment of tension. I kind of imagine that Yuap playing that role for me. There has always been something relieving about making private thoughts, public thoughts. I admire people who speak their minds. And say exactly what they think all the time.