The New York Times interviewed me for a feature on novelists who are unpublished because they aren’t tall. Or, in some cases, because they are too tall.
I agreed on the off chance a publisher might see it and say “Hmm, this guy sounds about 6-1. Not too tall, not too short. Get me his novel.”
What books are currently on your night stand?
Chilton’s 2007 Prius Repair Manual. Un-frigging-put-downable. My Life as Mick Jagger’s Lips by Eddie “Captain Botox“ Del Fuego. I Never Said That, a novel about a mime elected president because he never says anything controversial. Plus he can lean against an invisible elephant for hours.
Tolstoy’s War and Peace is propping up my night table. I was trying to flip our king-sized mattress to keep from rolling into the same slough of despond every night, when I lost my focus. I wondered how I can become fabulously wealthy when I don’t even have a vault. That’s when the mattress Moby Dicked me into the night stand.
Who are your favorite fiction writers?
I like myself quite a bit. I have an earthy style reminiscent of lawn trim and ant powder on the nose, with a smattering of roofing tar in the eyebrow. I tend to evoke a sense of black pepper shoe polish, a hint of faux oak paneling with a three-quarter-inch plywood component, all moving toward an insouciant finish of 1955 green linoleum.
What are your literary guilty pleasures?
Being Catholic, we aren’t allowed to have pleasures. In fact, whenever we are asked “Was it good for you?” we have to say no or we’re turned over to The Spanish Inquisition.
What was the last book to make you laugh?
Bo Bo Brazil’s biography of Boom Boom Geoffrion. No, wait. It was Boom Boom’s bio of Bo Bo. I sometimes get the two mixed up.
The last book that made you cry?
The Oxford English Dictionary. I dropped it on my foot. Then I got a wonderful audio version where the actor reading it does a different voice for every word.
What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
Murder in the Smelter, written by my next door neighbor. It’s only 1 page long—I guess you’d call that a novella. It’s opening sentence: “The first time Ace Bannion smelter, he gagged and thought ‘Man, this is murder.’” I found it formulaic and ended up writing a very poignant grocery list in Haiku on the back.
What kind of reader were you as a child?
I was a young reader in those days. Although I grew out of it. I hope it shows.
What were your favorite childhood books?
In first grade I loved Fireman Small by Lois Lenske. In second grade I fell for The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, and in third grade, Charter House of Parma by Stendahl. I never knew if Stendahl was his first or last name and I’m not sure he did either. I always thought of him as Yogi.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
My wife writes all the checks, so she’ll have to be there or I’m cut off. William Carlos Williams, to ask why his parents didn’t give him William as a middle name. When he was naughty, think of the times his mother could have said “Bill, Bill, Bill.” And my neighbor who wrote Murder in the Smelter. I can’t remember his first or last name but he owes me money.
What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
How to Write Goodly, by What’s-His-Name, and Oops, I Forgot the Alamo, by his twin brother, Whosit.
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