« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Episode 984 - Sam Lipsyte

2019-01-09 | 🔗
Not only is Sam Lipsyte one of the funniest modern fiction authors, he’s also one of Marc’s best friends, a kindred spirit with whom Marc shares a deep mutual respect and understanding. Whenever Marc is in New York City, he and Sam sit around and talk, going over the pressing questions and answers about the way things are. This is the first time they recorded it for an extended period of time. They get into Sam’s early years with the art-punk band Dungbeetle, how he creates his stories in a manner he calls “moving sideways,” how his life has been enriched by teaching, and why it took him a while to write his latest novel Hark. This episode is sponsored by Comedy Central, Squarespace, Stamps.com, and Deadly Class on SYFY.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
All right. Let's do this. How are you what the fuckers, what the fuck buddies, what the buccaneers, what the fuck stirs what's happening marc Maron? This is my podcast wtf, welcome to it, how's it going Well, I've been doing this kind of the same way at the beginning for years years. But I enjoy the consistency I turn on them I can, I hear myself say those words and I'm in it. I'm ready to talk to you. and by the way, how is everything? Are you? Okay? all done. You feel better I mean. Maybe you should dwight steam steam a little bit yeah neti. Did you natty pot? Did you get it who shot you didn't. Well, can you say well who knows, but but I I mean you should take one day off, I mean shouldn't shouldn't be at work today, my right,
okay you're all covered? not you can't breathe in your eyes, are watering and you're touching things? Maybe it's you should go home is by Do you think you'll lose your job? You go home so Maybe if everybody gets sick because you everyone can the day off and your a hero, a secret hero, whom I talking to right now, what's happening folks, I, I have a couple of announcements. I do I'm going to be doing some more small batch artisanal, local, shows here in los angeles, starting with the a show at dynasty typewriter. sunday janet Twenty eight then we're gonna had a bunch more. That's a small space. It's a great space, it's sort of near downtown, los angeles at a little theatre. I'm am going to be working through some stuff you're, not tears, maybe a few issues, but I mean I gotta. I
get ready. I gotta get my head in the game. I gotta get the hour thing together and do a day, and you know we've been through this before, but since I've been shooting and kind of busy I at times I'll, do a little residency over there at the dynasty, typewriter I'll. Let you know when that is, but I do know the one gig and that we have on the books at this time is january. Twenty, that's a sunday. You can get the link to the tickets at deputy of pod dotcom, swash tour, We we get her that come down. you- can also usually see me at the comedy store on the way and this will be like an hour plus set o a gag. I gotta find some people to a picture for me remind me to do that What else sam website is here, SAM fuckin website? is my yesterday. Sam website is a is a dear friend of mine, one of my best friends. and we haven't known each other, our entire life.
You know when you meet some sort of, I don't if it's kindreds, right or when you have an understanding with somebody or where you just have such a deep mutual backed and an understanding of people. I don't know man, I think, sam's, a genius he's. A great writer is one of the funniest writers. I know if you like. This would have legacy of of Barry Hannah Kurt Vonnegut Joseph heller. Terry southern, even a bit but just seventy style, said Tire, fuckin, hilarious, sam website, SAM, fuckin website sam website is so funny. I actually I actually read one of his stories: the worm and philly for the paris review. Podcast go marc. Marron reads the worm in philly, I loved it. It's so great read funny material, but just also the you know he so tight man yo his prose is so tight.
So it is his voice, is so singular. I am happy be friends with this man and he's one His guys. Sam is one of these guys. He teaches at columbia he's I guess for novels now two subjects, Steve homeland, the ask and the new one hark hark. This book is hilarious. They're, all pretty hilarious is theirs Yeah he's got a collection of stories called the venus drive in another one I think called the fun parts. Is it I think yeah the fun parts you should read only just wrote a story actually that just read in the worker. I just read the new. If sites lori called show recess. Some love, which was hilarious. Look some of you! People trust me in terms of my taste, and a and I'm I'm not misleading you, I you can start anywhere go, go, read the short story, the new one and then you'll
you can pre ordered the book hark. Is you can go to heart the book doc, he's going to be touring sam's, going on a tour he's going to be too bookstores in new york, washing dc brooklyn seattle, portland san francisco court, madera california, los angeles, tulsa, austin, oxford, mississippi, princeton, new jersey, Boston. You can go to heart the book dot com. You can pre order the book you can read some advance praise. and you can check out his tour to go here and read which is hilarious, there's a guy that when I go to new york we sit and talk and this actually he's been on the show like three times partially Like smaller interviews, he was there at the very beginning he was episode. Ten was on episode, fifty two and he was on. The sewed one, ninety six, which was alive one another where a full wtf interview,
also. He was on my old radio show morning, sedition quite a bunch anyways me and sam when I go to new york. We go out to eat. We usually lately: we've been having greek food and we just talk and it's something we enjoy doing, we said and we'll talk, for maybe an hour or so at dinner, then we'll walk and talk for another hour and then maybe we'll have coffee and we'll talk some more and just let it roll. Let the think laughing begin, and I vi in him through a lot of books. I think I met him right after the subject steve, came out and then in homeland he wrote a lot of that book in my old department, which I had left in a story that was pretty and I just let him have it as sort of a A writing zone and I think he sat in the kitchen and some of the homeland in there and I don't know you know, there's I don't read a lot of fiction. I've had it
you fiction, writers on here, but very few and in every time that SAM writes a book I gave excited I'm excited again, but this I'm what I'm really excited about, as is the first time that we ve talked you know at yale for the whole thing, the big The big wmd have interview with my buddy sam website yeah. It's going to happen second. Now it's going to happen. I liked, need to me. Males were somebody who who is not prone to writing emails in an almost like. You know feels like, like he had to write because you know it just it had to be done make me an email. That The subject line was a grabber, not a. liquor. I just wanted to say and then into the the body of the email. Your ability to make guests feel comfortable through your intrinsically connected experience is astonishing,
Mccartney interview was transcended robin williams, interview that put to put that in capsule time, capsule, I'm just scratching the surface, buddy it son interview, I dont, think you even comprehend our good that was not going to list them off. You know how good this shit is. Let me say this. I'm constantly amazed at how much you make your guests feel at home through kindred moments and flat out shared experiences. know. Any other way to put it you rock dude, it matters not, but I'm a sixty one year old musician from Detroit trust me, mother, fucker, When I tell you that it takes a lot to impress me, I just feel I need to know that you have touched my soul. Paul p s. I have never ever sent an email to a quote. Unquote celebrity. I think it's safe to say that my record is intact. Thank you paul from feeling like you had to do that because I'll tell you honestly Paul made me well, good! It may you know I'll, take it I'll, take it
You know in these days where things are tentative. If the for the existence of the planet, I'll take it. Thank you Paul. I'm glad I made a different so alright, so I think I've told you enough that sam I love him as a person. I I I respect them as an artist. He is one of the funding. Is riders. I know and I'm thrilled with this new which I read immediately. You can go to hark the book dot com for his tour dates and for primo, You can pre order it now. It actually comes out next tuesday january fifteenth. You can also got the other books. I mentioned the subjects deep homeland, the ask short story called in the venus drive in the fun part, the latest that worry over the new yorker have a few laughs. He fucking as with all of it, and now I'm going to deal with him and we're going to deal with us and we deal with all that. This is me talking to sam website.
hotel room in new york city You feel it come back. I feel back with surge when I did it where I put my whole mouth over the mic and scream into it. Oh really, so you made that distorted noise at all in the days of dung beetle dung beetle yeah? Was that what it was called? It was the dung beetle yeah. You were exploring the We were we the form we were pushing the the boundary yelled at the upper those few people pushed around four about twelve people, but did dead, did beat all ever record. We record a few things here and there never a full record, but we did some singles and some were on The soundtrack for an independent film oh really well, it was called half cocked
and I came out in the nineties and it was saint while people joined them every day the band? Well,. There are a lot of bands around the soundtrack like the grifters. I don't know if you remember them, kinda yeah. What are we talking? I'm trying to figure out when people ask me up music, it's sort of like was I even doing anything but wandering around doing I guess it was mid nineties, it's like yeah, I might have the whole. I think I'd missed most of the night sort of a it's sort of a movie about a fictional band that gets in a van now, goes and then the filmmakers were in bands to and they used songs from friends the who are also and bans rise. Kind of a celebration of a certain moment in a sad moment. Maybe an american indie rock. That moment that way it was actually really just a moment, you're back where later is more like three seconds For some reason, the nineties, I just I missed everything like elsie sound system. I didn't even know they existed, but they didn't best of the 90s,
james murphy in Burundi he is, and he worked with us and with dung beetle, Who does beetle yeah james murphy? Did you see that's quick bait right there, that's gonna break the political arrests, yeah they're, just James murphy beetle connection lives has revealed, is within the other night and we were taught realistic. Who do we listen to that music or who even talks about that me, which means that I just what ever was good and evil dung beetles is anyone right now in this world? Is there one? watching that movie wondering who's. This band is there one person playing the dongle single, probably not on a record player. You know what I bet you madonna's playing somewhere, absolutely or even like, I would go as far as to say that, yes, with the beatles may be somewhere right now, paperback writer, which was again which is beside, I would think his pride plank somewhere but dung beetles, what we
hit me. What was your single? Well, we had. We had a song called the man went out as the man went down yeah it was very popular. It was a the line was taken from one flew over the cuckoo's nest. I remember when, when chief through Billy kills himself. Oh, yes, and someone says the man went out and that's that's what it's well. That's that's what the about that's the it comes from. You guys are thrilled when you thought of that yeah. That's gotta, be a song, pretty good. That's that's a song. Man went out yeah, so so wait. So what did you and murphy side will he went on of course, and became a really last night talking about the music and what you like. What was the converse? it was just you know this music, these bands.
What was it who listens to it now it doesn't get talked about sort of I'm, not I'm at dung beetle, but you're talking about that moment, yeah. What would you call that moment, this sort of like art, rock punk, matrix, something like that yeah, a kind of who or the other a rock outfits were talking about dung beetle? The grifters- I wouldn't even put the grifters in there, but you know there were there a band called rodin. I remember oh yeah from yeah. There is some other. You know a band we played with a lot was called six fingers, light and they were they were an amazing band. We're we played with the that Jesus lizard at that time that when I heard of here and now that old guy, I don't know six finger satellite, they were great an egg the guy from six year, satellite john We are on to become. He has a group called the one maclean now I have and its, but it's more like a kind of dance music, but sounds like your keeping up with it. Why keep up with the stuff that my friends
are doing now, but I don't keep up that much. We don't listen to it, but you hurt. I listened to others know what they're doing video I'm not I'm, but I'm not deep in any scene or the eye. so murphy and I might check in on pitchfork like every other american, but that's about it. I think I didn't even know they existed. I I'm the prize it. How far out of the loop- I really am. I know like even when you just I dont know Brendan. Like knows a lot of things. He seems to fill his brain. What stuff and break it just hit random people and they all assume liking. Everyone's doing that, I don't know everyone's checking in on pitchfork I if they are. I I'm talking about fifteen years ago I tried now I just I asked my yesterday. I asked my son who yeah he's fourteen and he only listens to rap. I guess yeah who's, this guy he's real
in two: are you know, Travis Scott, her sap rocking a sap rocky? He has a rocky poster over his bed and really and asia. Bracky fell on him during a show, so he feels a special connection that's a life changer, that's going to define things that you don't even understand that shape skating in deep ways. Well, that it that happens, though, you never forget that shit like? What do you have a music moment worry ear like yeah? That's it right there that were your view. You had the experience. The revelation, I'm gonna be a fuckin punk rock singer. Well, I think it was more. I don't know if I had I used to scream into a hockey stick in front of a mirror. The I was-
you know ten or eleven sure. So I I you know I was imagined I'd be before I even saw a show. I was kind of imagining yeah. What that experience might be, but why is there a hockey stick in the house, because I we played street hockey and yeah jersey and jersey? What part of jersey, northern new jersey we've covered this probably in personal conversations, but if what county bergen county so not far from morris county, where my my grandmother lived know what town is a town called cluster cluster, which is a weird word, but it's dutch, I think- and you think you should know dutch and isn't that generational, I think, to sort of soften the blow of certainty. I think there's something as I get older, I'm starting to think that much of what's important. The group came out of new jersey, well new jersey has is densely packed
and so the chance have something interesting coming out of new jersey or just hire yeah, because they were just more people crammed in there: italians, jews, all sorts of people, yeah yeah and then just the hill people indigenous people, bering now about because of the election. There are five florida, as I'm sure you have oh yeah, but there are a lot of new jersey's shirts on and there's like five jerseys on like a two block radius or several jerseys, and it's not the same anymore. I think there were fewer jerseys when people would have to go out into the street and walk around a little bit, but now everyone just like bunkered in hunker down in their house, looking at their the, but before how you're talking about fifteen million new jerseys or something it's sort of what it is everybody's, their own. You know piece of property, one has their own new jersey, yeah their own uja. Everyone has their own new jersey, that's the that's! The new album by by dung beetle, maybe Springsteen will do a guest track
he'll be one of fifteen hundred guests. He'll, say one word: you'll you'll sample just him going. He me and then, when people pick it out, like yeah, we've sampled that from Springsteen cause like, I guess I should I think we met, because it feels like we've known each other for centuries, which we probably av it just there's some people in your wife that you know like you. You know we go back to rome, probably somewhere yeah right of euthanasia, yeah, yeah, ancient rome, yeah, yeah yeah, you know we are complaining and I think that's going to end well for the Jews were it. Maybe we were christians, maybe that's true. We would maybe we were new christian and not. Another thing is great. Well knew christians are basically just you right here. I see it. What do we do about? What are we change and we have a chain? Is it? Is it a different sandal? We what's the big chain
I just don't want to be one of the guys that is not part of the group, but no, I met you, I didn't know what year it was yeah I do vaguely. I think it was. Ninety four, ninety five it was a little later I was your wife and my girlfriend or friends. My wife and your ex girlfriend boyfriend, Debra and Kim yes, we're friends, so that was after I moved already I feel like it was here. We were still in new york, we're still in the city. I think we but we we met a few times. We, I think we may have gone, unlike some double dates: yeah! That's right! and you and I and I and then those relationships ended. But we remained friends and then we were both in a storia. Right but, like I remember that the big changes I was I, when my Debra and I broke up, I moved out to a story. That's when I moved out to a story, but the bigger
was that, were I remember that event with it was right made to. It was right just pass mid nineties. so I didn't get sober till ninety nine, and at that time you were sober and I and I reeled you back in- I was the Satan yeah. You did that. I I feel like I I I apologised for the rich, you make an honest demands for making you smoke part that day in the park. You do you remember that idea you probably, how could you forget it as a command? we like what a fucking monster but but fortunately
I'm happy to say that you didn't send you back at her and spin me out into some terrible life after that. No, I think I think it actually was. I think you were actually appreciative of it like I somehow, like just eased you back into you realizing like, maybe I'm not as bad as I was, and it turned out you weren't yeah, that's true yeah! Well, what was that? Okay? So you grow up in new jersey, your dad's, as a sports writer and have a popular will? Maybe I aspiring young adult fiction writer while not aspiring a very successful? Why a writer, I think, that's what's called way yeah I mean, but what was the book that he wrote that that didn't that didn't get published was enter the fiddler that much later he I mean he's he's kind of a legend in the young adult
reading is also legend but he's more of a legend. As a sports writer robert website, Robert lip site who wrote, you wrote a confident york times for many years, and he was very important in that he's. One of the I cut a furry. in honor of first but one of the major sports writers who really started to kind of talk about things outside of just the game. Talking, rise, Souci, logical to political, the economic implications of of sports, and he also this big, his big story that he kind of covered forever was muhammad ali right and because he went Ali first sort of came out and said, I'm not cast play anymore of muhammad ali and and took certain political stance a lot of
sports writers started attacking him, and but my dad would listen to him and took him seriously and, and they formed a a a sort of I'm not gonna, say a friendship, but an understanding and and my dad had access to ally for many years did he come over to the house? No, I like, I said it. Wasn't it wasn't right like that, but I do you go up to the training camps? Oh yeah. No, I mean they would go and be ever him and active at different points in his life and he wrote a book an important book on our way. Well. He wrote a book about, he wrote a book that should actually been reissued and our plug his book. It's called sports world and its was first written in the seventies, but it's sort of his magnum opus about. You know sports in society and- and I said it's a pretty incredible book yeah but I mean, but the wording is like it like you I trying to be disrespectful, but I don't, and you are a little bit, am I now just getting? No, I just am sports guy and you're, not really either. No, I mean I
up- I probably was into it a little more than he was. He was not really into sports, I mean he. He had found himself in sport spear and but he just wanted to be a writer and journalists and think about things in red. he he used. You got the job new york times when he was a kid and they put him in the sports department, and I think he be thought thought he would a move on to something else. Politic: it would have a brace ended up, staying there and building a career there, but he's, not a guy who ever sat around and watched games and rourke kept track of anyone's batting average or he didn't he. He liked the stories around sports and he liked the the human interest in the all the other stuff, but he wasn't a nitty gritty sports fan, and I, when I was a kid if I'd be in on a sunday afternoon, sitting on the couch watching a football game, he'd come in and say what the fuck are you doing
Why are you sitting around on your ass watching a football game? That's the dumbest fucking thing you could do with your time yeah, as though that question so everyone says to me: oh, it must have been amazing growing up with. because you guys, you probably had tickets to everything and he took you to every game and taught you everything and I said no, you know when this matter self loathing around Israel, I support and he had to l a waded into an intellectual exploration just to live with himself, while we all do that to some degree right, but so, but what what? What was he told you get off your your ass, but what
the suggestion. Would he want you to do? Well it wasn't. He wasn't good at sports. Is I go out and play a sport? Go out and run go out and do something right, breathe some fresh air right get some exercise. Read a book whatever, but don't sit and watch these professional guys bash each other on tv, but when so this was in jersey and what so you gotta say: you're a younger sister who I know right yes, Susana institute for you, yeah and you're. Up in jersey, yeah and your your mom and dad stayed together for how long they were together. there till I was a sophomore college right hand. Ah, but I'm sure my mom.
It's a writer too, and she she during that time she published a novel and did a lot of journalism which novel is called hot type under what name, marjorie lip site most ya, know, and- and she was what year was- that was seven seventies at that time, late seventies? Was it a sort of a feminist novel it had yeah? I mean it had a kind of it was a feminist yeah. She wrote for a feminist newspaper and it was she had been. I was at first wave considered the first wave. I guess she was second wave. She the rapporteur reporter had been a reporter at the new york times where she met my dad, and so she there was a novel that was kind of auto biographical about being a young woman working in the sixtys it at a big metropolitan newspaper. That's that's what that book was about as it available I mean yeah. You can find it it's not in print, but it's available
Is that weird about books, just how many there are. I can find that about records to your like who the fuck is this guy and then there's one or two people like that: guy's, the most important guy yeah, no It is amazing how much how much you can access now there there. You can really get everything, so you grown up with two riders, so you had no choice you, what happened. He had a rough belly and I had a choice I could have. I mean my sister's, not a writer, what she do. She's a lawyer, oh that was smarter, probably yeah, yeah gotta turn and run. I mean I tried to do our work do as you find a way to be a writer, but not the writer, that they are right, finding a new path right, you hope. But but what was the process? Did you write in high school yeah? I mean I think I was kind of a. I figured out a way to write really well when I was young and get lots of
hats on the head and stars on my papers and what were we writing early on? Let me whatever I was writing. Poetry involved yeah. There was a little poetry. No you have to you have to. I think that that that the poetry is an exercise, especially when you read your prose, it's important to understand or at least is. I think, it's important as a writer to have an experience with poetry where you're, like I see why this gets through. Well, I think that I mean I had a teacher who said if you want to write fiction, you should read poetry right, you know. What do you want your sound to be as close, even as a prose writer, you want it to have poetic elements you want it to sound. You know have have Abuse to rio, lemme I've always been going for that. I think that there was a period of just in school, where I can learn how to write stories. I read aloud in new yorker short stories and I was writing. I guess
point is. I was writing a lot of stories about experiences. I didn't know anything about. I was sort of mimicking a lot of what I read the big hoover you mimicking mostly in high school, I mean probably the eighties minimalists at the time. You know raymond carver, oh yeah, and people like that. But could you drop some more names? I want some more names cause. I don't know them at the time like people out that have been raymond carver the mason, frederick, bartle, may hear, and then later I discovered other writers who were more like, but we got called postmodernism like robert coover and John hawks and thomas pension and people like that. But Anyway. My point- I guess my point- is I kind of learned how to write a certain kind of story and win prizes for it and stuff like that, but I kind of got disgusted with myself and at a certain point, because I felt like I was it wasn't really coming from me. I was just felt like a fraud, I felt a little like a bit like a fraud high school in height, well back in college.
I kind of turned away from the writing for a while, so it so when I got into the the the music stuff, the real stuff, the visceral it was. It was also a way for me to like scream but not be heard like I didn't want my words to really be heard so we really turned on rightly turned on writing and then, after that, that was when I kind of rediscovered writing for myself when,
I was no longer the son of these writers. I mean I still was, but I'm just talking about kind of that that moment where you realize why you're doing something you're not doing it for other people and they don't in the end- and this was a big lesson to me- was realizing. Nobody gives a shit yeah yup the people who love you. They want you to be happy whatever. That means yeah and they want you to have health insurance and they want you to, but they don't care whether, like you write that short story that you've been thinking about or not in the right, while the pressure that's coming from outside your mama, most of it's imagined, they're, not you're, projecting all of it, you're projecting all of it. So it was that realization that nobody cares and that's a very liberating thought. Then it's well, then you have to ask yourself: do I care? And if the answer is yes, then you really go through. It seems like this is something that
like that those three steps, the young, do they care in my making up what I think their thinking and then you that's step one. Yes, I am step too is: does anyone care yeah? Do I care if any one cares at step to step three? As do I cared now this, this to me is a daily thing. Yeah, I mean some people call a prayer had I understand that it will not be able collar philosophy looking back at it, the others. It is the moment when you remember, but I remember that from earlier today, yeah that was that was eight thirty this morning yeah, but I am not saying it's a one time experienced by around writing. I really mean it. Maybe it was daily for a while until I really got a sense of what who you know who I was in all the sure but
like so in high school year you you knew that this is this. Was your thing and you had a he had a knack for it when worked at it, and you know you aspire to it in there. I succeeded on a high school level at it, but there is nice, you know edible competition to it. Yeah yeah! It's very you know. The other thing is realising like you can kill your dad, but it's really exhausting yeah yeah, but, like you, can't really kill em. Not so, when you, when you do it that way? When you do it through ads or zombies, it's true. They yeah. They keep coming back that well yeah. That is true. Both of our dads are still alive and that nice thing I it took me a while to realize that, but it's a good thing, but the weird thing is: you can win a certain battle like you can't kill. It They can eventually acknowledge like all right. So you did. You did what you set out to do, and maybe you he equips me a little bit. You know, but that doesn't really kill him, because once you get past the
you, you still looking at them and you know in their mind there, like I'm still here, fuckers exotic, I'm not dead. Yet how you do it, already well under way you're going through all the others up. The raging ball was on tv, the other night mama ways like you, never put down right, yeah yeah we're be downright insanity. You're. Looking at him, like alright he's fucking relationship, that's fathers and son yeah, so early on you weren't like for. Like me, I got At some point I was like I'm not going to college, but you know I just was you know kind of locked into some sort of townie dream for a minute there until I panicked but growing up with not academics, but people who put a premium on your intellectual activity. You Were you waiting for one of those people where you like, I'm not going to? I'm done you always
I kind of wanted to go to college because I thought it would be a way to get out right. I kind of want. I mean it was a nice town I grew up in, but I was ready to to go, go somewhere else yeah and meet some other people, and I kind of had this fantasy. That turned out to be just that that you know when I went to college everyone would be interested in the things I was interested and care about what I cared about and- and there were a few people but yeah, then there were a whole bunch of other assholes too. you know just like anywhere else right, of course, and he went to brown yeah see I I never. I didn't have a lot of choices when I decided to go to college you know and errors embrowns in ivy league you're right. I think it's called its known as a minor ivy minor ivy, but it's also known as this Of like out heavily liberal arts kind of a
children thing right. Well, especially when I was there, it was it the eighties and you know getting covered in the media as the hot school and people hadn't really paid attention to brown before, but suddenly yeah yeah there were like celebrity children. The royalty was there As you know, there was a place in the foe. Unlike the student phone book, it said you know with somebody's name and then just common and princess of greece or reflect, but this it by this was that, but it was for a I wouldn't I mean he ran into those people and sometimes he did, but it was a way but see. The thing is: that's always been the case with ivy elite schools like yale and harvard have always been sort of like the educational facility for aristocracy and tyrants and dictators, families and what it was a place to get everybody the good education, but it seemed like brown was. We got this one bad kid some of that, and then there was a kind of intellectual kind of clove cigarette smoking.
Kind of thing going on. There may be more than at some of those other schools. It was very big into. There was a semiotics department. as theory, and so you went in there immediately without you know, really any context you were reading all of these french deconstructionists and and and getting into some. If you were, if that was your kind of major. If you were kind of an english major if pers, oh, so they because of the nature of the school and that it was more yeah. It seems like the the regimen was different than some of the bigger ivy league school Well, are you weren't necessarily like I feel like harvard yale puts in you're, really being trained or to run the world right right and brown? It was like you are there to be the black sheep right relation of the person around the world. I never became a disciplined intellectual of any kind of guy to either well. You know, I understand the words you're saying and I think I have an idea in my mind of what they mean, but I did not to I
I got no training so when, A post, modern and deconstruction just leave. You could probably explain it right yeah. I mean it's not that interesting but for years I sort of like why don't I know about that? I was the guy that you know I didn't fuck. From college I mean I did well. I graduated with honors to a certain degree, and I put cobbled together english degree, but when it came right down to it. I was on the lower east side in the late. Eighties and early nineties with all the semiotext books, without the same streams yet but right, but without any sort of guide, like I'm reading this book now this by this guy david shields, and then there's idea there there's an element, It was there that he clearly comes from that and I'm having the exact same experience I enjoy. Reading the lines, and I think I have an idea of what he saying, but obviously there is a whole context, not unlike the language of philosophy where
knows exactly what he's saying and I'm just sort of like I kind of get it well, I mean I felt that way coming into college. I was given these texts and I didn't really have a way to relate to them and I mean it was summer, it was mind blowing, and some of it was really alienating yeah and I didn't I wasn't coming from the ruling class. I I couldn't you know fuck off fuck off, but I I took tried to take it seriously, but I was trying to grasp it all and some of it. You know, I think, that's it. I absorbed some and some of it definitely helped shape my worldview, but it kind of general I mean was not that different from you know any kind of vaguely marxist progressive worldview. You might get right anyway, right and, and there was there were devil levels that I didn't I didn't get to without will. Yet because, if you do get to those levels, then it becomes your job to to sort of continue pursuing the depth and range of those levels. Like you, I imagine, if you get to a certain level of understanding of that kind of stuff, you
wired to commit your wife to it. Well, the h it becomes a kind of priesthood or some right, yeah yeah, that that as time goes on, knowing gives a fuck about right in its its losing traction, even with the church. the deconstruction yeah. I mean this stuff's been around for thirty forty years. It's not you, know people rage about it. Now. People rage against the post, modern, is now tsar like the postmodernists are running anything things, so I dont understand all of the idea. I got to meet some of the people that are raging sea, like I had it sort of way. well, I thinking of you know. Even if you look at people, who are getting a lot of attention now like a guy like Jordan peterson, if you're with that guy and he will rage against the post, modernists and- and I think he his feeling, as you know it- it has filtered down into the identity, politics and and all of that, but it probably has, but it probably has, but I mean I you know. I think I feel like that's just kind of a
A straw man and in a certain way it's a straw man. It's also like a a bit of of of pseudo intellectual hodgepodge that is making it that has been made excessive or to the people who were pretty fuckin stupid in terms of education but now are have become enabled through language and through funneling through their own anger to kind of wipe, half make half baked arguments with the proper language. and then it becomes really problematic people just throwing terminology around to write royal. Well now, when you have a sort of audience right, and then you have a certain group of people that are able to say that the actual facts are a good theory They depend becomes problematic, but they, but I don't think we should get Austin into that shit. So, but I do want to talk about the the relevance
of of writing, because you know you and I are not you're you're a little younger than me, but, like I obviously are our heroes are in the same sort of time zone and but like when you? When did you start? Was it when you got to brown that you started really to sort of dig into the guys it informed your writing the most well, I think I at when I was in college. I definitely encountered a few writers that would have a lasting impact on me, writers, like Barry Hannah, yeah stanley, Elkins yeah, grace paley, thomas mcguane, and then I became
very much a fan of a. I discovered a journal that was coming out called the quarterly that was being edited by a guy named gordon Lish, who was a famous new york city, editor yeah. He had edited fame. You know Raymond carver. That was very controversially, but so I I I started sending stories to this magazine. I just wanted to get in and I'd get these really nice rejection letters and I just kept sending in some gordon yeah and I write little notes. You don't just keep trying or keep it going, but up until that, encourage me to to keep going, and so, even while I would, even while I was doing the band stuff, I still harboring a little desired it. To get involved with this, and eventually I, after kinds of things, my life kind of fell apart, and I was rebuilding ways that we can't just like that
That's not the thing you just kind of skirt over. I was going to backtrack to it, but oh you you're! Okay! So after you I fell apart. Well, two things happened: the band fell apart, drawing out of it, got involved with drugs. We didn't get to the beginning of the band, so the band starts at brown after a little bit after yeah, so you're brown, where improvidence providence and we're doing this band and you're like sitting around smoking cigarettes being angry sweating over mirror lines of cocaine. No, not really. There was a coke really. It was just like beer and cigarettes here and playing a local clubs and hang out with who is the guitar or a guy named rob reynolds who's. Now, a painter in l, a and a really good friend of mine. But is he a good painter he's a very good painter, big painter? He paints big and small abstracts. He does all sorts of things he does that he does some abstract things and some figurative things too. I wonder if
it's my girlfriend. He might so he's he's a painter, and so who was on drums. A guy on drums was a his name was bruce cooley, but we called him bruce oyster cooley and I'm sure he just oyster, sometimes as oyster yeah. He had been actually art r t a in a class bow kind of dragged him into this. Oh yeah. He was a little bit older and and then on base. We had a a guy named nicholas, butterworth sure, and although he went by big jimmy fingers at the time, we all had rock names. What was your rock named sam shit SAM shit yeah. Oh that's where sam beetle, because of dung beetle, but did both so the birth of dung beetle. They were all rusty, guys or no. They were all brown guys and they were. all the other all originally brown. And what was the manifesto? The manifesto was just to be
weird and crazy. I never wink at the audience. Never let them know that it was a joke heard. I just seem very important to us and never let s just kind of to be as alien eating as possible, while still being entertaining like italy. We wanted you to have a good time, but you know to feel bad field disturbed on some of and indeed you have a following: well, those twelve people we talked about. I never was really just twelve or like yeah people, which you were part of a saint. We were part of a scene we, like I said there was a band six finished. Right there we are providence and then we moved. We moved the band down to new york after about a year, but you're still at brown. We were done where we were graduated, so we out
so after brown was over, we spent a year in providence playing around and clubs there. So you did your degree yeah and you, you wrote your stuff. You got through brown with a degree in what english, english, major and you'd publish some stuff and during college, just no, not really college. disease may be, but not ok, and afterwards you like were banned morgan in new york, where the first I spent a year in providence, okay and then we went down to new york, serious yeah. We were serious, I mean I dunno. What see we didn't know? It's not like. We were serious like we thought we were going to end up on tv with this, but we were serious about wanting to keep playing and keep playing and clubs and can't keep pushing the envelope with the fuck eunice. Well finding interesting ways to say: fuck
because it's easy to say, fuck you and a boring way, but so what who were the musical influences if we were to lessen the dung beetles would be like? Oh you know the satellite like the osmond, I dont have a senior self on some sort of continuum. Yeah I mean I was put rock it was a, but it was emmi also we're all coming from different places, but yeah. We liked bans like the laughing. I ain't as like the gun club, if your mother, the enclave of the gun club, so the great lizard gun quote, was sunk. The stooges we love area, shirt Joe, is that
If you can find that then so, when did the we'll start coming off after about it, I mean it was. I think that a couple of us started to be interested in other things. You know, sorry to think about. The guitar was thinking more about painting the outer in point. Their basis was thing about politics and and- and we just started, we start to lose a little bit esteem and we started to lose that that team feeling that I think we should add and drugs were getting involving drugs or getting involved people you got all fucked up. I got pretty fucked up wrong, not that long but enough for it to to. You know screw up my life. Just get scared. Yeah, were you were you, like, I dunno how much you really want to talk about it, I'll be diplomatic about it, but where you are strung out, I mean
not for long periods but for good enough periods. I was you know. yeah thinking about what am I going to do today to get the money to to not feel shitty right, let's put it that way, and that would that became the job at time that, and that became you know a full time job. And what did you do for the money to get the stuff to not feel shit, sell stuff, sell my belongings, oh yeah, it's getting spar, gig, there's gotta be a media. We need things are going about when the drummer started selling his drum care one piece of the times, claiming that it was. You know, because he was into a more minimalist, sound but a moment. I was out of just what is going on in his head in the quarter antivirus, yeah god and just the snare eggs. It's got sort of a military feel I dunno, if that's what we're looking at yeah, so it and but it got to a
where you're like I've. I've got to clean up yeah and you did it yeah and that's when he started to rethink the writing. Yeah I mean I kind of was doing all sorts of things to make money, including a substitute teaching at high schools and- and I was- and this and also point where my mother had had she'd, been in remission from breast cancer for about thirteen years, but came back and it was, it was got pretty bad and I was livid. I just kind of I was sort of at the rebuilding my life and she was in a bad place. So I moved in with her in jersey. No, this is now my parents are divorced and they both lived in the city So I kind of took care of her and then and was taking try to take care of myself at the same time. Right and- and it was kind of made an amazing time- it was- I mean, I'm glad it worked out. That way that I was able to be there more. It's good that you're sober, not taking her medication of that.
could have gone the other way. It could have gone the other way, but the timing was right. So I was, I was a help rather than a hindrance it's a really huge nurse. We helped each other yeah and then what how so just by talking emotionally yeah, oh yeah, being there for each other and then and she you know, but it you know she got sicker and sicker and and then and then she died and you were there the whole time you're the primary caretaker in a way yeah wow. I can't like yeah it's a and m a what what effect did that I made it must have been like I assumed cause. I can only speculate but like to sort of process that and go through it. It must have brought you closer and may have given you a deeper understanding of something Well, I mean party, I gave me a deeper understanding of her yeah but which I was really grateful for because she bit my mom and I you know whatever a lot of others,
I I'd known her in so many ways, but now I kind of got to know her in a new way and can understand her as a person yeah a lot more. You know, I'm sorry that it took this writer that to happen, but, but you had sadly, but also in some bitter sweetwater. You had the time yet and we did have there was time away. I know it was a period of a couple years so and you probably because of white you what you just the idea occasion, bro was so strong with your dad. After a certain point, you detached from your parents in your eyes like he have no idea who they are yeah is that in the you are able to sort of know her yeah, it's great know her in in, in the way, I'm getting to know my dad now, in a way that I wasn't able to before when I was filled up with all sorts of fear, and resentments resentments, and you know independent yeah, sort of necessary defiance or right, distancing or pushing pushing back washing back here.
Yeah so but that, but that was a very key. I think moment in my life was that time with her a year and then and then after that, and but you know, I really didn't start to really write seriously and write the things that I would eventually publish until after that died, and then I was kind of then in a strange way. That was the final like? Well, nobody really the only person who really truly gave a shit is dead now. So, although now it's on you now it's on, do I give a shit yeah? Who am I doing it for yeah, but it must have like I. I imagine that that experience helped humanising define the darkness a bit right. You know, because there it's sort of like there's that one short story where the the junkie dude shoots up his mother's ashes, right that, like they're, you know I I imagine it would be hard to think of that comedic device-
if you could call it that or or or make it sort of pointing and funny, without having the experience that you had both with your own life. With your mother passing right, and I mean I was a kid. I was important story for me to write at that tourism of criminals and I, but I think that I will you know. My experience had been I've been kind of at that point anyway, sort of a goodson yeah, but I didn't want- right that that's interesting yeah. So I was done. I was more interested in writing about you know what
it's kind of a story. It was almost like an alternate history of what, if I had you know, stayed on a bad course and and had the same writings experience with my mother right, so that was that was kind of the imaginative right leap. Yeah, that's a good one and- and I didn't know that I wrote I was writing the story I told this before, but I was writing it and I didn't know where it was going and then, as soon as he shot up his mother's ashes, I was like I guess it's over. I guess where you go for exactly that, gets the story. It sort of circles back around to what I keep circling back around the table without saying is You know when I I talked about our our our own heroes and about who they are. When you talk about people like stanley, l, kin or barry hanno or dennis a was twice named. While I mentioned Thomas grain but maguire, you gonna say Dennis Johnson. He d only done it was certainly a
and winning ways in court to read. But these guys, like you, either end, you know I brought up. What did I bring up with? You are the broader book I dug up- and I was like these guys were this- this pantheon of these seventies writers, yeah yeah, who, like to a certain group of people, were, were it you're, incredibly important and culturally relevant? You said you went to philip roth's memorial right. I did yeah and, like I just wonder, like you know how how they defined culture when they were alive because it seemed like the there was good part of culture that was sort of intellectually bent guessing you eat. I use mentioned the seventys and here I think about books and movies, all of it together it ass. It is that as a kind of cultural feeling, I guess we both feel steeped in and fry formed by and they are definitely You know we grew up in it yeah I mean I grew up. We I grew up in the eighties, but it was really the seventies I was paying. You know that had been done in the seventies. That was
what I was marinating it and then, when you like, I guess like in terms of like your own books, that there's this idea guy queen, I know who the writers of it some of the writers are that you're in the world that year in your generation, whatever and even the ones at a really big you're right. It's still sort of it seems like an insulated community like you say some of the priests of deconstructionism right that they're still this world of literature that I feel like gets more and more. You have specific and insulated. You know what I mean that it doesn't have the the cultural resonance well that it once had. That's really true, and I always say you know, I think there was a time when you know there was a particular book or particular movie or particular right record that you know when you went to the party you just had to at least pretend to have right experienced, and I think that that's still true, except the book is
off the table. You don't have, there's! No, you never have you don't have to pretend you have read a book at this point for no it seems it right. That's all novel! Anyone I can tell you, but also, I think, of what happened is instead of The common conversation about this thing that supposedly important it seems right to the real you know, conversation no premium is, is knowing something about something that no one knows about. Like you know, sort of like and see that it's like? I don't even know of the existence. Of course you didn't like there's a it's not right either, but maybe in the world you running that still with movies or whatever, but aid seems more that people like that, you there's no theirs the common thread that you know there there's so much shit out there we're all in our niches. That's all right, then the niche can be very small, yeah and so there's common thread, there's no there's no.
Well, the main narrative we're all commenting on. I mean, besides the political one which right right now we're all just as if that's what we're all looking recent right you're into these books, you're into movies anita, you are, and these books over here and they they don't necessarily touch each other. Why think that's what like? That's what's great about that in the book hark about the new novel is because you know I have you know, having watched you go through the other novels, the subject steve the first one. Well, first, as venus drive write the stories yeah and those are stories and they're, great and they're, dark and they're. You know they're they're, solid, but then subject steve is, is not as accessible as homeland right to little like fragmented it and not in a bad way. But you were doing something What was I doing? What's your ultimate, what was I doing? What? No I I I mean I think like see like I like when I read Elk and er, I read some of these other guys like atkins, is not really an easy read
one writer. I didn't mention that I think the subject steve was probably indebted to his dilla as the greatest right right he's a he's another wish guy, whether they were friends I mean I wouldn't say lish. Really share out the low, but you know and well they re like white noise or something in a shirt right were white noisier exactly that was the first. Do I read that then I've read all of them at a certain point and the impetus, was the one that really was his big. Finally, that was what what is fifth novel. Probably that the other ones it it's just right to fragments,
Right word. I don't know how to talk about novels that much, but it wasn't insanely accessible. No, I mean it. It was trying to do certain things. As you said it was. It was structured in a weird way. It was these kinds of diary entries with these itemization. They were clear, and so do you know who I you know was trying to get to a lot of. It was doing more kind of cultural analysis than some of the other write books may be, and but if at them, but I think now you you've come back to it, but you've your voices, so you know well defined and, and also I think, more broad yeah I mean I think. Ah yes, I see what you're saying I think you're. I agree with you. I think there's a bit of this
just steve in hark, but with a bore of the character, stuff and write a human stuff right brought a more funny and funnier yeah cause they liked the all the comedies. The characters are very well defined and and the the humor, because the characters are, are not only believe but but familiar and and sort of well defined. Yet the humor has a lot more punch too. It will. Thank you. do you do you know what yeah I mean I'm going for that? That's that's the effect I'm after so in your some work like as I've just watch because like homeland was funny like homeland was really driven by this ridiculous voice. Yet there- that was a very funny right cause a guy had a chip on it, my shoulder was about like reading through his bombast Andrew. His is mania right
and then the ask we get into this other world where you're sort of like it. You know, you've got the guy, that's trying to make it. You just survive life and he's in this weird world of of of. servicing rich people yeah. So it's just kind of like this walk of shame through the whole book is kind of a series of humiliations that reflect. I think what a lot of people feel in their working life in there and I think, they're a netbook that the ask which I loved, but I just see the natural evolution of of of it's like dealing with the ideas that you like to deal with, but like somehow or another, the characters become like I, book, as I told you before, like I, don't I'm not going to mistake you for the I main guy in the ask. Am I I that sam and then there was actually a part where, like that's actually a conversation I had with SAM yeah? That's true:
I never tell anybody, I'm not particularly proud of where I was at at that time that the that beat using the book was hilarious, because that's not a problem. I'm having. I really want to tell people which what it is they can figure it out, but this book, the guy what's the protagonist name, the other guy friends, friends yeah, like I mean I can see your aspects of me and sure, but it's a lot of different people. I don't mean that in that usual fiction, writer, evasive way of don't pin me down it's it really. Damn drawing from a lot of different sure they expect. have being married having to children. In that spirit, I mean those emotional autobiography there right. You know it's right live those feelings. Are feelings, have had the situations and not so much it's just the one. This book- I guess not, unlike you, know, white noise in a way that you were able to sort of get it all in you'll. Get you know politics, culture. You know spirituality the exploit
asian spirituality commercialism, all these the yoke tech ya, like that, the entire You know sort of chaotic but defining cultural landscape. That we're living in which seems really hard to, if your brain around you were sort of able to harness it through this he's, not in a is almost a haphazard. Surely there how many right, yeah and then there's a guy revelation at the end about a poem billions, but yeah yeah. I was very satisfying net into me. That's a tricky thing. I think I know not as somebody who talks which are much or or claims to tee then you have study it, but it seems that when you dealing with a novel that has you know definable characters, that's not abstract that that third act is dead. yes one, how you and that hunger landed here but, like you, ended a great yeah thanks
I mean I was a lot was a leap as they say you know that was. Should I do this. There was a bomb at work, If this is wrong, I'm really fucked. Nobody it's fine, because I, like I said, like you- wake from before in talking about about poetry, that if you have laid the groundwork, I think they're in again not an academic but. yeah. You have a certain amount of of freedom with poetry to to the point where you know a lot of times, you can't determine whether it's terrible or it isn't right, but you'd wait all this groundwork so to take the weed that you took it just poetically is sal. Do you know whether or not there the there's the logic is going to hold if its believable doesn't really matter? Does it no. I think that it's any mean you're. What you're talking about is just a general storytelling idea, which is: do you it or not right? yeah, but you earned it and you're sort of like. I guess, he's going to do it that way. Yeah, that's fine! It's great good! Yeah
and but yeah I mean I think, you're right. I was trying to it, took me a long time to write this book. I started it in two thousand and twelve really, and so it wasn't something I mean it was something that was. I kept layering things into it and, and it changed a bit as I went and my conception of even what it could be altered a lot and I like that it took a while, and I liked it those layers or their creates more texture and creates more space for all of those themes you mentioned and also creates. Or allowed me to work on those characters and and make them as dimensional one spas Well, yeah and I I think they're they're, the comedic device of it, a lot of them that kind of move throughout the book, the the changing names of local restaurants, yeah. You know it it it it. It does sort of.
Kind of guts, the reality route? We live in a little bit, they I and that we're all such suckers for such bullshit so daily and almost seems to change every day, but the other, this sort of what really the continue a bit. The thing that stays is like France has problems you know in his particular character you his emotional problems in his his sense of insecurity. No matter what is shifting around you or how complicated the world gets. Is that at the end of the day, you're still that guy you're still you but like what elements like you know, Gordon Lish is just sort of kind of infamous character who ran these writer workshops yeah. they were yes is that the word wrong word? No, no I'm just it was. I was doing my workshop because we didn't really go over your writing that much in these classes he more lectured.
Spoke about writing and then sort of it would go for about six hours each session and then at the and he asked people to read from whatever they were working on and it was a very nerve. Racking experiences go, live yeah and and- and he would listen to what you are writing but really point out of me italy where you were going wrong and ice harsh. and he didn't he were military garb two or something I wouldn't go. It was Farrakhan, maybe it was using character need character? Was that written a lot of books while he wrote he wrote a lot of books, he edited almost all the writers I cared about at some point or another, and and he He was an editor at esquire and cut off published most of the writers. I care about So he was someone that I look to, as this is a guy who has who had already helped shape what what what I thought was some of the most exciting
a writing and in the last fifteen, have whatever forty years of of american fiction. So he and he was an incredible and write. These still teaches a little, but I think, but maybe hasn't in a while, but he wasn't, it credible teacher. He he really gave of himself. He gave everything he had. He lists had the most best ear I've ever encountered. He could hear everything we're doing, and he he taught you how to really I we say he taught us a to listen to ourselves, which was the most important thing, because I think that then one is writing in one sort of doesn't even one rights and rights, but isn't even paying attention to you're doing right and staying in the moment.
sort of elaborating two degree where your entertaining yourself, but not necessarily honouring yet what you want and what you ve put an emotion at the heirs of the ideas. You begin with these elements and you have to follow them and you can, if you can, veer away from them. You have to account for that right and the thing the thing that I have found, which is what I like about what I do is I get to when I begin write a first draft. That's an improvisation right and that's like that's. That's a performance you're talking about one hundred three hundred page performance yeah, but then you get to fix it. You get to keep working on and keep fixing it and revising it yeah, and so you get the best of both so with something like with hark. Where did that start? What was the the driving idea? I think I began with this idea kind of. idea of mental archery is just this image of people doing these so. This is your sort of satirical riff on on yoga
or out of you I mean my my wife is really into yoga. We talk about this kind of stuff all the time, and you know I've tried to do it. Nice. Maybe I was thinking of a yoga I could do which large. Why do you say what they think that so funny about it? Is that you you you sort of flesh out enough to hear, historically with with with bullshit and in actual fact that you created a history, for this idea yet that becomes a spiritual right. Now is a lot of fun, not yet let that part of it serve name, The poses and historical background on all of that, also, if it's vague enough to be, you know open to almost any interpretation right, which is you know how which is the secret to a lot of these things and how this guy becomes put in the position right of being a spirit
all girls will the idea of hark himself as he someone everyone can project upon and so different characters who have a different idea of what mental archery is and what it means and what it can mean for them and for society so that people see it as a more private practice, more spiritual, I have made other people see it as an agent for political change. Yeah other people see it as a as a way bring community, together and everyone. You know everyone's projecting onto hark. Some people see him, as you know, heart this kind. Old style sherman. Some people e m is this. You know leader, but everyone knows it forces of capitalism in technology that one or two trillion end commodified, so he's, but he's one of those guys who can beat everything to everybody right except like who is who is in an he's just think I don't know there was a just reminded me. He says I just want to help people focus what he keeps saying in the book, your everyone
keeping all of everything. it's a little like yeah being there so he's a little bit of a chance. Yeah yeah. I just thought that we were talking, but so is it started out with mental archery. That was the idea that came to you in of some kind, the mental audrey than somebody kind of teaching at going somewhere upstate to do a seminar in that was the the the basis. Well, that's how that's what triggered it all and then I was writing that that's There is a whole scene that didn't make it into the book. There was maybe the first thing I wrote, but then I realized that this guy hark needed some kind of sidekick and then that's where the France character came in and then I am I have this other story, like the initial hang around yeah yeah yeah, the guy, who saw something for himself right, but spiritually and and like defined his life.
In this feeling this lack of lack and he needs he needs to plug into something in the air. It is the lack and and then I also there's another subplot about someone who transport Oregon's are all yeah yeah yeah and I met this guy. Who is a german actor? Who does this? You know he he does acting jobs all around the world, but then he's also transporting organs all over the place and it's kind of his side side. Gig yeah and I became interested in sort of that they will support their and others, a woman whose one of the main characters is also transporting organs at different points. It so far. If that had out of the entire book, I would have thought that would have been the one contrivance, but that it rooted in a guy like the more the fact that this come from? a german guy yeah, and then you just you you just
sort of move through the rest of it. I mean like as a member talking you once before, about where you start, and you can start in the middle with build out Well, there was a little because of that scene. You know, wasn't necessarily the beginning of a story. It was showing them already established in their routines right and I'm like. Who are these people? What is it who are they? What are their lives like? Where did they come from? That's the building out you sneer figure out, though, and when what's going to happen, right and so that- and that takes a long time- and so I always say I kind of I'm- writing sideways cause, I'm moving forward, but I'm always going back and playing with what I've done and then moving forward again and going back moving forces. This sideways crab like Yeah movement. It's not a straight short course right, but what's also interesting, is because of the time that this evolved over whatever. What? If I yr six years. I guess six is that you are able to integrate a lot of the cultural dialogue.
we are on around your gender in round. You know feminism and around the you know the the paradigm shifting yeah yeah active. You know patriotic kick takedown that there there it it's not like, have a full subtext, but you you address it like, because I think there's a lot in this book that is, is very immediate and relevant. Real commentary in a very nice cutting but funny way, yeah yeah, I think it's stuff that was bubbling for awhile and yeah in the air, and it's not you know you didn't wedge it in. I didn't wedge it in there, because these characters were kind of naturally talking about this but your arm, but then I started to see. Oh this thing's heating up in aspects heating up here yeah. There were very few things that you didn't really At Japon, I think I think he got it all in. I think he did it. Sam Dunn, yeah yeah know. Now you go back to much simpler things. Now you just sort of now it just becomes about you.
want a beach for awhile the and now you gotta like cause. I think I dunno what you have to do. This book is just coming out. What do we gotta talk about the next one? Four o others? No next one, let's just say no, I mean, I hope, there's an excellent but yeah. I feel right now right but spend a little time filling the filling back up. I was just so you're proud of you and excited you know cause like. I always love reading your books and I always get a big kick out of him, but when he as I know you as a person and also as an artist that you know, when you see somebody just sort of go through, do this. It's all. This was the next one. This was it is the one that you know. It's all fully realized yeah, I'm not saying you're done but I'm saying that no, I want to feel like the worst feeling
is oh, the the third book was the best and I've been on a downward. I mean and you're always going to meet people who, like different books, that you've written right, but you want to feel like you, don't trust those people know you want to feel like this. Is you know I'm as good as I can be now right and I'm exactly I'm as I'm. The best I've been now and this is as good as I have done. That's what you want to write it, but you know that's weird from people I mean you, and maybe I don't know really for you, but, like I know, you're, even if I did my best effort in the past year at the time that it wasn't there yet
right. You do. I know that I don't tell people that necessarily, but when I look back on, like you know, like my choice, to do thinky pain as a loose sort of hour and a half exploration of things that you have, some of which were not fully realized and in it. But I wanted that's what I wanted it to be. I don't think it was a a cop out or uber rationalization. That was just how I was working at that time and now, like you, know the app did that I might want to tighten it up might like it ought to be like that. That was a good experiment to eat. I'm glad people like it had it's own quality to it, but I gotta tighten it up yeah and there's also the sense I mean and when you look back at the end of everything, people are trying to make a story out of your career everything you did went this way and built this way
pinnacle, but that's not how you're feeling you're just feeling like now. I want to try this and now I want to do this and now right. I want to go out in this direction. Yeah I want to go out in a different one and so you're, not thinking of the the arc of your biography when you're making all these choices about what your work, not insane insecure, creative people, ambitious people that are able to projected that what they want their life to be in their career to be. They seem to do that, but that yet I don't have that luxury saying you know what would mark maharan do now. Sometimes I wish I had more that that would help some people they walk in there like this is what I do good and I'm going to keep doing this because give me money or whatever- and this is what people want the benefit for us- is that, like you, you know we we haven't locked into something that makes a lot of other people, money you don't write you not feeling that pressure, the idea from us or other road, the outline supporting a lot of families with that.
I have always was, and I hate when I say I've always said that you know you don't make money until you make other people money. That's that's the sign that you're making money via yeah. Well, I mean I've sort of gone around that so that that worked out. You know like a like. I he I I don't have to answer to anybody, but that we're not talking about me. We can, though, not tired of it Well, let me ask you this because, like you know, you teach like the yeah the one route that that people take. You know in in your racket is that you know. You haven't act like again. This speaks to you know that planning or you know what what are you going to do with your talent that you know that you have and you haven't really to succumb to this sort of fault marian journey to to two. how he I mean what people like me, you can write for tv, can. Do you can teach yep
to be able to get by on journalism, doing magazine stuff, but that's kind of contracting the really viable anymore. So people are really it's now: it's television or teaching, and I mean it I have done a little bit of the tv stuff, but mostly it's been most of my career has been teaching or what What is your experience with it? Because I know some of your store? Your books have been optioned and eight, you know in and you may be going to be made into a movie which is fine. They give you some that happens all the time they get a tiny bit of money in some somebody's. idea for a differ. Movement was their point where you your kind of part of the process of making which one well there's It's been talk about the ask becoming a movie I did Several years ago I wrote a half hour script. They ever remember yet the h b o bought, but nothing ever happened to it. But there was, had this two week period when I thought I was about to become this really successful. Show around here
what have you can. Imagine me. I remember as a shared it like we're. What do I do? It was this. It was almost like fantasy camp where, like they make you, you, can pay two thousand dollars and pretend you're a showrunner for a week. That's what it felt like what happened with that and they just you know they. What was it called it was called people. City is just a. It was a. I wrote it a couple of weeks. Just my agent said: why don't you try writing something and I did and they bought it right away. But then I was you know Now to tea with movie stars deceive I, like them May I have a man and then dug out who'd you go out. I had a nice a nice time drinking tea with Michael Keaton well always oh he's great, but it was just as mumble or like who do you know? How do you see
sam? What you know? How are you going to realize your your vision and and and then it was done, but for it was fine, it was, it was a it was it. Exactly the way it's supposed to go is like every story. You ever hear about how how didn't work out right. So but did you leave doubting your vision, No, I mean I had written a funny script, but I had no idea what I was doing and had no place at that point. Doing it, happened, because I'd even didn't really and to have a vision for a whole show. You know. Well, that's where you call your friend mark and you go. I will do you think we should do it. I think I did call his meda with ready I think you did call I'm like I dunno you want me introduce very well, I think it was just one of those things where they were deciding between a couple shows and they went
Why think also what's happening now? Is that, like you eat your oddly, when I get opportunities to do that kind of stuff because of the podcast or because I can hear your teaching and you're still writing your books? It's like you really have to ask yourselves like do I want to throw fucking a year or two of my life and time down that fucking young pole, because I'm your can be locked into that shit for years, and it doesn't go anywhere right. You have to want to be doing. After that's what you needed to be chasing the whole time and I kind of stumbled into it, and I wanted it to be like the old, my old idea of hollywood with writers, where they just paid you some money for something and then told you to go away, but they were like no. We want you to be great part of this and now but there, but I think the the the point that the
I'm trying to get to in my mind is that you can do something on television and movies that is now because of the media landscape. They can immediately become equally as irrelevant as books, right yeah, you know how so much of it like you can do this amazing thing and nobody will see it. well yeah, because it is like now it's the same thing cause. I hear people everyone's talking about a different show and there's and they're saying I I haven't seen that I haven't heard that right, that's right! What are you talking about? It's the best thing on tv. It changed my life and that's the point I made earlier. Do you remember I'm just talking to it? I am a little slow today okay! Well, that's a good point sam I don't what you would do without my blazing inside about this.
lands the cultural landscape. I just like birds in its mother, comrades aging, then that when I brought it up, it apparently like the right it in register at all. Until you made it your own thought a half hour later without it. When you first said it, I just said, filed away and bring it back as your phone idea. Donut knowledge that he's having a good idea or that you understand always malo, buy it now is urgent, very often yearning and drop it and we're you feel like it relevant, but but I am, I am doing some more stuff like that. I think I might play around with that kind of writing. Why we're good, but I you know I I got an email from somebody and I can't remember you know what, whether it was him or his daughter or something. But
but somebody written to me because I've mentioned your name and said that you know that either they were in your class or or a they said, you're a great educator. Well, that's nice! To hear yeah I mean I, this is a big. It's the main part of my life. I've been teaching for fifteen six. I remember when you started, though, and it was sort of like I don't want to get sucked in. I don't want to. Oh I'm completely, I'm chair of the department sucked in but when you, but struggling with the bureaucracy with like I you're. If I can take now, I want the bureaucrats, but what at time: the guy at the desk, making making things difficult for, but but but like you didn't jockey. For that the process of wrote, it's a rotation and everyone in the program. All the teachers have to take their turn doing this kind of administration going to be like tenured or I'm. Well, it's funny. You should ask, after being there about thirteen years, I'm going up for tenure.
and do they put you up or you ask to be put up for it. Have the I didn't ask, but they said you know, we think you should go for tenure, And- and so I am but it's it's scary- because of something wrong with it. If you don't get tenure you're out of a job we mean like either you get it yo keep worry, call it. You know upper out really yeah, but why would you be out because of the it once you go to that process? If you dont pass tenure via, then you have to leave really yeah. What kind of fucked up this advice ass, the academic system, even if your great teacher? Well I mean I guess there deciding that, but I am sure will see I you know it. Everyone who is in that world, not everyone but of a lot of people in the world, have to go through this process, and it can be very scary for people, because you
they do it after seven years like that, and then you know if they don't get tenure than they have to leave and find it find another job. You gotta go to a smaller of worlds college somewhere in the right here. Lucky I mean I don't know I mean the thing is. my family. We live in columbia, the housing we teach. So it's it's kind of yeah. It's all company, sure, town, sort of stuff, yeah yeah, there's a little bit of that in the book too yeah. But it's a it's a. What was it? What was the what they make it their voice. Was it waffles or waffle, town frozen, waffle factor the company town man, it's like stuyvesant town was was that met lifer? What what will appoint- or I don't know what it was, but it was the insurance
I think yes, but I've always I mean a lot of my books always interested in that individual's relationship to institutions and to yeah away you're kind of sucked where you are sucked in what, but I think that it's it's it's sort of a beautiful thing that that you did. You know after a certain point in time. Take to you know what the portance of of what teachers are well. I, like my means. Absolutely I'm in the thing is that I never imagined myself as a teacher when I was younger right and I love, I love teach, you do yeah yeah, I mean I'm really that's one of my happiest times as in the classroom yeah. You know that me as a refuge from everything. Now we're here and we're talking about stuff, I care about you care about and we're all here trying to get or has writers that to me is really exciting, so that, It's always a thing of oh some people to write it. I mean some people.
each so they can write in it. What a drag but know that it's been that's been really thrilling, but that was but that was in evolution for you. While I had to find out that I was a teacher right, but also you had to ask, because I think that at the beginning, yo that was the thought that it was something if the concession yes exactly there was a necessity. If I wasn't going to sell out or tried to do that or or or dilute myself or or become desperate, you know and have to pimp out or whore out my skills. You know you teach you know like there, there's that that that model you know as somebody with a fiction writer, you know, always existed, but it also implied that on some level, I don't if it's true or not, but that you weren't a success yeah well, that was the idea that they always said. Those who can't do teach in my world, like everybody teaches riot, but but there's that hovering hovering over then you find out that you really love teach you want. I did anyone both great and in what do you try to input
in the kids in a general way. If you could go in terms of approaching writing that nobody cares. If that the name of the first class That's the first class: let's get. If I have a right, I'm a book about writing. Writing it'll, be just called. Nobody cares exerting. You got to say where the you do. Do you chapter one. Do you care care, and do you see that the contraction academically in you writing programs in the liberal general will. I know I mean I always has been growing. I think a lot of people. A lot of people want to study this in a lot of people that normally because of various socio economic factors are others felt shut out of programs are
if coming in and bringing new perspectives, and so you know, there's more diversity and in all ways, and so that's I mean that's something. That's I think grape and you find that most of the students are are are looking to. You know, build a life in in writing. Fiction, or do you think that you know that the the I think they're are real lot of them? Are realists and see the the it's not like nineteen. Seventy, two rough rind and it's a different world out there for a literary novelist or short story. Writer, and there are, you know, so I think some of them wise want to write want to write books, but they thinking well, maybe I'll teach her baby I'll find some other thing to do as well. Right arm and I think a lot of them are. I mean I remember member- is a couple years ago. I walked in on my class and they were already talking about stuff and they were
talking about all these writers and they were dropping all these writers' names and I I didn't recognize any of them, and I thought, oh, my god, I'm really out of it. I'm not paying attention to what's happening in in literature right now, yeah really gotta catch up, I'm really fallen behind and I kept listening and then I finally said who, who are these people and they were all tv writers that they were talking about? so yeah, so I think they savvy, and they understand that. That's you know with a birthplace that they need to look into as well, and also because, yes, there there's been a lot more space afforded that medium to to explore your more
literary things and yeah I mean it there. You can do a lot of stuff there. It's not like we used to him, but you know back in the day. You could only do things you could do things in books that you couldn't do on tv now. So there's no content, you can't do on tv and what he lacks so ryan. The question is: why like why? If that's the case, then why write a book and it has to be because you care about language. It has to be because you care about that medium right, and do you think that died that it has? There's no story? You can't tell on television
Well, you can do on what you can do in a book is capture the speed of thought and association, and and and funnel it through poetic language right and that's. So if you want to do that and that excites you and that has to be what gives you a charge year, then then you're in the right place to be writing, but I think that for all sorts of people fiction is, is a really still an exciting year and and liberating place to to operate both as writers and readers, and there is something that that prose fiction can do. That movies can't do- and I say this to my students when I'm teaching us when we're talking about
What's what they're doing specific scene are saying you know, would a movie do that better because of a movie did a better do something else right now, if you're just describing know the battle I'm just like, is that just a reaction shot yeah you're giving us like do something else, because we we have a medium for that yeah. You do you tell cause that's the way. They think I imagine some of them yeah, that's great! So there's that so just just to say. I think that you know it. It will always find new relevance and raining for new generations, and people are still you know, and maybe it's going away, but people talking about the internet, bad, the bad internet stuff. But the fact is that people through email and texting or use our writing all the time. So in a way, the the even the idea of exp of expressing your way yourself, through language. The written text is something that still happens happening. It happens more now in a way yeah, because west people want to talk right cause. He used to be just the telephone routes every writing a treatise
reading the tone of text I have to learn how to be a better writer to be a good test to be able to like meet your friend for coffee, okay, I'll I'll. I have that that seems like a good. You know. Rational. I mean it's: it's gonna borderline, but, yes, salad! So do I have decided on sections of the book that you're going to read when you go out and read your book. Hark I've been playing around with a few different but if you want to read one normally read something he had read something and I want you to tell me on the mics that the jewish joke. He told me the other day I'll, just read the very beginning and then I'll read another little bit: okay, listen before Hark. Was it ever harder to be human? Was it ever harder to believe in our world the weather made us wonder the markets had the wars, the richard stopped pretending they were just the best of us and not some utterly different form of life.
the rest. The most could glimpse their end on earth in the parched basins and roiling seas, but could not march against their masters. Slaughtered each other instead retracted into glowing holes hark glowed too, he came to us and was goldenly it wasn't. That hark had the answer it was more than he didn't all he possessed. He claimed were a few tricks or tips to help. People focus at work at home out for coffee with a client or a friend. Listen before hark was it ever harder to find focus. Hark gathered his tips together, called it mental archery, pretty silly. He liked to say, but some new better, some were certain. He had a secret, a mystery a mirror.
For what was mental archery, but the essence of hark and what was the essence of heart, but love in this hurt world. How could that hurt the hunters of meaning had found? No meaning the wonders of dreams were dreamless. Many now drifted toward Hark mourner. This is like the back story, the front stories about a bunch of people and a movement they launched under the banner of hark movement. That may be meant nothing at all, or maybe it did it's tough to tell the past is tricky, often half hidden,
like a pale flabby young man flung naked into a crowded square. The past doesn't stand there, grant ganders the past clasps his crotch scurries for the cover of stanchions benches history hides that's it's job. It hides behind other history, great that the opening of the book I'm in and then here's a little bit of outta, one of the characters toga and her kids, yeah tov, is on the train with the
since she sits between them, keeps them yoked and relatively loose pro wrestler choke holds they are temporarily immobilized and thus unable to assault each other or fellow riders, both of which, with these maniacs are possibilities, especially this morning. Meanwhile, she text emendation to her supervisors proposal to the provisional head of development at the blended learning enhancement project. Her supervisor cow possesses. What Tobin knows: the business community deems leadership, qualities, meaning he's equal parts, fool and loud, a human fact similar. on a ceaseless quest to collect his salary and cover is but apropos of which the reason she's here on the subway restraining, her kids in semi legal grapple or grips instead of already at her desk, is because one or both of her children have ass. She put it as concisely. She could on the phone to the doktor concerns of the ass. More
The civic duty, ass worms. Toga may have ass worms to what happened was that all of their assholes started to each and toga? Looked the symptom up discovered a detailed photograph of a hairy, nearly michael
topic worm. Somebody had earned enough trust from this creature to achieve a lively candid shot as the critter regarded the camera, with unamused scorn, mostly expressed through a toga supposed were eyes, but on further inspection might have been anal orifices themselves. Toga tried to call frass but hasn't been able to reach him. He could be tutoring or doing a favor for mister Durch or more likely, cleaning and jerking, perhaps at the gym more likely at home. He excellent so for anybody that, given and now to close hawaii, he told me that joke again cause like a there there's few jokes of like whatever my decision is whatever the history of jewish comedy is but there's the joke. I told John Cleese, you know, which is you know when he went anyhow
at. You know that bit right, yeah yeah did you to. I don't think you told me that no no, but I've heard that joke I'd probably talk to. I would hope I think you did to yeah, that's where I did hear it yeah, so what the grandfather sun on the beach right yeah. So what's it tell me the one? Tell me again cause I want to make sure might have heard this first from gordon lish oh really many years ago. But well, I'm not. joke. Teller is great, but there is the old man, man's dying, YAP unease at home and he's in his on his bed on his death bed. In these he's dying in his his son, grown sancho, Yadda salmon sits by his bedside and says dad dad, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, sorry, you ve been such a good father. You ve been such a wonderful dad is turning the egg. I can do for you now. If you need anything, is there anything? I can help you with that. It is or anything I can do and that's his house on us
so good to see you are such a good boy, such a lovely boy, I'm just so glad you're. Here, I guess. There's now, there's really nothing! Well, maybe there's there's one thing you could do for me boy, anything dad any dad. Just tell me anything I'll do anything while son, I smell your mother's chop, liver coming in from the the kitchen, and it smells so good she makes the best chopped, liver and son. I mean I'm a mamma death bed, I don't know how long of god, but you you think you could just go into the kitchen and get a little that chopped liver and put it on a crack and bring it back to your old man. You think you could do that son and, of course, of course anything I'll be right back of course, and son leaves a little while later the sun comes back and he's empty handed in that head, says son son? What happened why? Why don't you have the chopped liver? What why don't you we back the chopped, liver and the sun says
I'm sorry dad, but mom says it's for after yes and that's it, that's the entire history of the Jews, somehow the american Jews, it's pretty good yeah, alright, but he was good talking to do you want to eat yeah, we should eat or do you feel like eating? You want to know when a while greek do you want to go over see if we can get a good sit down, yeah that russ and daughters cafe yeah look pretty crowded, but I think we could what you walking by the one the house to know they got a cafe down an orchard where you can sit at a table like a person and eat your food. Okay, let's go eat some juices, okay, damn website and me talking into mike's hotel room in new york. City love. It love him The new novel is hark the herald
for pre order now comes out next tuesday january fifteen aids. I will play guitar. Oh man not original the boomer lives.
Transcript generated on 2022-07-17.