Our interview this week is with Miles Halter (aka “Pudge”) from Looking for Alaska.
According to a popular book review site, this is his story in a nutshell: “The Alaska of the title is a maddening, fascinating, vivid girl seen through the eyes of Pudge (Miles only to his parents), who meets Alaska at boarding school in Alabama.” (You can access the full book review here.)
His story is that and so much more, so we reached out to Miles with a few questions. Read his answers below – in his own words. (Wondering about the idea behind the “In their own words” interviews”? Read all about it here.)
What is your motto?
So this guy…François Rabelais. He was this poet. And his last words were ‘I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ …I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I know a lot of people’s last words. It was an indulgence, learning last words. Other people had chocolate; I had dying declarations.
What is it that you most dislike?
I hated sports. I hated sports, and I hated people who played them, and I hated people who watched them, and I hated people who didn’t hate people who watched or played them.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
This never happened to me in Florida, this oh-so-high-school angst about who likes whom more, and I hated myself for letting it happen now.
When are where were you the happiest?
Best day of my life was today…and the story is that I woke up next to a very pretty Hungarian girl and it was cold but not too cold and I had a cup of lukewarm instant coffee and ate Cheerios without milk and then walked through the woods with Alaska and Takumi. We skipped stones across the creek, which sounds dumb but it wasn’t. I don’t know. Like the way the sun is right now, with the long shadows and that kind of bright, soft light you get when the sun isn’t quite setting? That’s the light that makes everything better, everything prettier, and today, everything just seemed to be in that light. I mean, I didn’t do anything. But just sitting here, even if I’m watching the Colonel whittle, or whatever. Whatever. Great day, Today. Best day of my life.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
My worst day was in seventh grade, when Tommy Hewitt pissed on my gym clothes and then the gym teacher said I had to wear my uniform or I’d fail the class. Seventh-grade gym, right? There are worse things to fail. But it was a big deal then, and I was crying, and trying to explain to the teacher what happened, but it was so embarrassing, and he just yelled and yelled and yelled until I put on these piss-soaked shorts and t-shirt. That was the day I stopped caring what people did. I just never cared anymore, about being a loser or not having friends or any of that. So I guess it was good for me in a way, but that moment was awful. I mean, imagine me playing volleyball in pee-soaked gym clothes while Tommy Hewitt tells everyone what he did. That was the worst day.
What is your greatest regret?
We left. We did not say: Don’t drive. You’re drunk. We did not say: We aren’t letting you in that car when you are upset. We did not say: We insist on going with you. We did not say: This can wait until tomorrow morning. Anything–everything–can wait.
What is your greatest fear?
And now she was colder by the hour, more dead with every breath I took. I thought: That is the fear: I have lost something important, and I cannot find it, and I need it. It is fear like if someone lost his glasses and went to the glasses store and they told him that the world had run out of glasses and he would just have to do without.
What is your current state of mind?
I wondered if there would ever be a day where I didn’t think about Alaska, wondered whether I should hope for a time when she would be a distant memory–recalled only on the anniversary of her death, or maybe a couple of weeks after, remembering only after having forgotten.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Although no one will ever accuse me of being much of a science student, one thing I learned from science class is that energy is never created or destroyed…awful things are survivable, because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only changes shapes and sizes and manifestations.
Want to read the full novel? You can find Looking for Alaska by John Green at the Austin Public Library: https://austin.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1066576067