WBEZ | writing http://www.wbez.org/tags/writing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Year 25: Ernest Hemingway http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-ernest-hemingway-108094 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/hemingway25no2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s almost hard to believe that at just 25 years old, Ernest Hemingway was already writing one of the novels he&rsquo;s best known for: <em>The Sun Also Rises</em>.</p><p>Some have even called it his &ldquo;breakthrough&rdquo; work, while others say there&rsquo;s no amount of <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/07/04/specials/hemingway-rises.html">analysis</a> that could convey its quality.</p><p>But then you crack the spine yourself, and you find a book full of complex characters trying to find meaning in their lives; a story of friends wading through drama and heartbreak, all the while drinking a leather bag of wine or two (or four) while they take in bullfights and fishing trips.</p><p>And then it all makes sense: These tales scream of life as a twenty-something.</p><p>Well, maybe not the bullfights.</p><p>We&rsquo;ve learned through the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/year25">Year25</a> series that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-105315">25</a> can be a pinnacle year, one that marks a period of great influence (positive or negative) by different places or people; one of big <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-rick-bayless-25-106967">decisions</a>, some angst, maybe even serious <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25-0/year-25-dan-savage-105358">romance</a> or adventures that can put a person on a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-alpana-singh-25-105949">path</a> that shapes the rest of his or her life.</p><p>As it turns out, Hemingway&rsquo;s 25th year was full of all those things - and he put them right into his writing.</p><p>Of course, we can&rsquo;t ask the famed author what was going through his head at 25, or if he had any eureka moments or transitional conversations during that year.</p><p>But he did leave us with many works that give a sense of his life at that time. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/068482499X">A Moveable Feast</a>, for example, is almost a memoir of his life in Paris in the 1920s. Not to mention there are scholars all over the world that have devoted their lives to discovering his.</p><p>By 25, Hemingway had already been through a lot. He worked as a news reporter for the <a href="http://www.kansascity.com/hemingway/">Kansas City Star</a> for under a year. By 18, he was driving ambulances through Italy during World War I where he was seriously <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ernest-hemingway-wounded-on-the-italian-front">wounded</a> by a mortar shell.</p><p>He even experienced an earth-shattering <a href="http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/hemingway/agnes-von-kurowsky.html">heartbreak</a> - served up by a <a href="http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/u26j-RrGEEiEGDwx9R2Zgw.aspx">nurse</a> that he met while recovering from his injury.</p><p>Hemingway eventually married another woman, <a href="http://www.pbs.org/hemingwayadventure/paris.html">Hadley Richardson</a>, his first wife, and together they had a young son Jack.</p><p>By July 21, 1924, also known as Hemingway&rsquo;s 25th birthday, Jack was just over a year old. At the time, the family lived in Paris, France, and visited Spain in the summer to watch the bullfights. It was during this time when Hemingway mixed in with other famous Modernist writers and authors like <a href="http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/gertrude-stein">Gertrude Stein</a> -- people who would become a huge influence on his writing style.</p><p>&ldquo;[Stein] is the one who told him he should really spend time looking at Cézanne especially,&rdquo; said John W. Berry, Chairman of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park.</p><p>&ldquo;He talked all of his life about the impact that Cézanne&rsquo;s paintings had on his early writing -- where you kind of put the background in very low focus and then you focus on just a few things in the foreground and really treat them with great detail.&rdquo;</p><p>Stein became sort of an editor figure for Hemingway. As he wrote away the days and drank away the nights, Stein was there to tell him which pages to cut out and where to look for inspiration. Hemingway also published a collection of short stories just after his 25th year, called <em><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/07/04/specials/hemingway-time.html">In Our Time</a></em>, which experts say was polished by Stein&rsquo;s editorial advice.</p><p>But it was <em>The Sun Also Rises</em> that really launched his career, according to <a href="http://lieslolson.com/">Liesl Olson</a>, director of the Scholl Center for American History and Culture at the Newberry Library in Chicago. The stories of carousing with friends, the incredibly detailed scenes of bullfighting -- those were all inspired by experiences of his 25th year.</p><p>Not every review was full of high praise when <em>The Sun Also Rises</em> was first published in 1926. He was panned by literary editor Fanny Butcher of the Chicago Tribune, a paper he read faithfully no matter where he lived.</p><p>&ldquo;What she wrote really mattered in Chicago,&rdquo; Olson said. &ldquo;She basically thought the novel was full of too much drinking, too much sex. It was sensational. It was about a group of twenty-somethings who didn&rsquo;t know what they were doing with their lives.&rdquo;</p><p>He also received a bad review from a critic close to his heart: His mother, Grace Hall Hemingway. She wouldn&rsquo;t even attend her book club meeting when the group was discussing <em>The Sun Also Rises</em>. According to Olson, Hemingway&rsquo;s mother sent a letter to him in Paris, saying, among other harsh things, &ldquo;you&rsquo;re prostituting a really great ability to the lowest ends.&rdquo;</p><p>Ouch.</p><p>Yet despite all that, the work he wrote at 25 became major bestseller, and it&rsquo;s never been out of print.</p><p>&ldquo;For all the twenty-somethings out there right now trying to do something big,&rdquo; Olson says. &ldquo;This is a really instructive moment.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Producer and Reporter. Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 17 Jul 2013 18:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-ernest-hemingway-108094 Year 25: Chicago seniors reflect on an 'eventful' year http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-chicago-seniors-reflect-eventful-year-106288 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F85190477" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><br /><div class="image-insert-image ">As we&#39;ve learned thus far through the Year 25 series, a single year can really influence how the rest of your life shakes out. And that is really evident within the walls of a large room in the Chicago Cultural Center, where every week, a group of ladies gather for a senior citizens memoir writing class.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Each week, they&#39;re given a new assignment by their editor and teacher Beth Finke, a local writer you may have heard on WBEZ before. She&#39;s been teaching the class for almost 10 years now, so she&#39;s always on the lookout for new assignment ideas. When she heard about our Year 25 series, she thought it might be fun to ask her students where they were at 25.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Well, of course, I had to be there.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">The class of about dozen older ladies meets in a wing of the Cultural Center named, pretty aptly, I think, Renaissance Court. The writers are in their mid-60s to early 90s: You can imagine the stories they have to tell.</p><p>They all sit around a long table littered with lipstick-stained coffee cups, a few<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wanda.JPG" style="width: 442px; height: 300px; float: right;" title="Wanda Bridgeforth, pictured at left, celebrates her birthday (Courtesy of Darlene Schweitzer) " />&nbsp;pairs of reading glasses and small stacks of paper.&nbsp;</p><p>Wanda Bridgeworth always sits in the same seat - at the head of the table, on the left side. You&#39;d think at 91 years old,&nbsp;it might be difficult to match memories with specific years of a long, full life. But as she begins to read her essay, it&#39;s clear that 25 really sticks out.</p><p>&quot;The VMAIL letter read VJ Day! Our unit alerted to head for home,&quot; she read. &quot;I could hardly contain myself. I hugged my daughter and shouted, &#39;Daddy is coming home.&#39;&quot;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">It was October 1946. Wanda&#39;s husband was coming home from war, just in time for her 25th birthday. She says she remembers a big party at the house, with family and friends, celebrating both his arrival and her birthday. This would also be the first time Wanda&#39;s husband would meet their daughter, who was born after he left.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">All went well, Wanda writes, until bedtime.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;When he started to get into bed, she jumped over the side of her crib and grabbed his pajama shirt screaming, &#39;You get out of this bed! This is my mama&#39;s bed! And you don&#39;t belong here!&quot; Wanda read, while all her classmates burst out laughing.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Wanda writes how that year brought lots of changes: she was diagnosed with hearing loss, lost her new home to the railroad and on and on.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Another reminder of how unpredictable 25 can be, no matter what generation you&#39;re born into.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">For some of these writers, the adventures were of their own making. For Nancy Walker, all it took was one decision to kickstart a year of self-discovery. The year was 1963 -- she had been teaching in Mount Prospect for three years.&nbsp;</p><br /><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;I loved teaching,&quot; Nancy read, &quot;But I wasn&#39;t meeting any new people in my 2nd grade classroom. So I decided to resign from my job and look for a glamorous job downtown.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/nancy.JPG" style="float: left; width: 257px; height: 300px;" title="Nancy Walker, one of the students in the class (Courtesy of Darlene Schweitzer) " /></p><p>So off she went, submitting applications for the few female-wanted ads in the newspaper. Turns out, her search ended up bringing her right back where she started -- she was hired later that year to teach at a school in Skokie. And she stayed there for the next 31 years.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;The decision to resign from a good job when I was 25, could have been disastrous,&quot; she went on. &quot;But now, I view it as one of the best decisions of my life.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">And that&rsquo;s the thing about this class: 25 was so long ago, that the lens these ladies are looking through often lets them see quite clearly how that one year fits in the span of their whole lives. That&#39;s something I learned from Hanna Bratman, who was 25 almost seven decades ago. It was that year that she gained her U.S. citizenship.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;It meant that I now could say I&#39;m an American. I no longer had to identify myself as a German Jew,&quot; Hanna told me after class.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Hanna says that new identity was very important to her. She calls herself a &quot;Holocaust person&quot; and told me some of the stories from her young life in Germany. She was thrown out of school when Hitler came to power, she recalls. And then there was the time she broke her leg and had to drive for hours in the middle of the night to find a doctor who would treat her.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hanna.JPG" style="float: right; width: 350px; height: 300px;" title="Hanna Bratman, celebrating Wanda's birthday (Courtesy of Darlene Schweitzer) " /></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;I think you grow up pretty fast when you&#39;re really on your own,&quot; she says.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">But yet, she says, she&#39;s always been a positive person. And today, at 93 years old, she&#39;s still keeping busy. She leads a support group for people with vision loss, she leads a midlife group, and as she puts it, &quot;I help all the way around.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">And she also shows up for this class, every week, to listen to her peers tell their own stories.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">But there&#39;s another story here that was not shared in the class. A 25th year that has rippled out from one person to all of these students. For Beth Finke, the woman who is teaching them, 25 started out with a lot of excitement. Her now-husband, Mike, proposed to her on her birthday.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;We looked forward to having all our friends come in town...we got married in my sister&rsquo;s back yard. [We] all went to a White Sox game the day after, just, fun, fun, fun,&quot; Beth recounted.</p><p dir="ltr">But things took a sudden turn on her honeymoon in Scotland. She recalls that she started seeing strange spots.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I took my contacts out and cleaned them and put them back in,&quot; Finke said. &quot;And I knew right away.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BigCrop%20from%20scan.jpg" style="width: 441px; height: 300px; float: left;" title="25 year old Beth Finke at her wedding (Courtesy of Beth Finke)" />Beth had been diagnosed with diabetes when she was seven, so she knew issues with her eyes were a possibility, but she didn&rsquo;t think she&rsquo;d lose her sight altogether.</p><p dir="ltr">For the next few months, her 25th year would be spent going back and forth between downstate Champaign and Chicago for surgeries and doctors&rsquo; visits.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;We tried really hard to save my eyesight,&quot; she said. &quot;But by July of my 26th year I was totally blind.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">So the things Beth saw during her 25th year - her wedding, her family members&rsquo; faces, the White Sox stadium - those are the images she still has in her head today.</p><p dir="ltr">Of course, the following years were transitional ones; she had to learn how to read Braille, how to use a cane, but with all of these changes came a gift: writing. She says there was something therapeutic about putting all her feelings and life changes on paper.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s a gift she&rsquo;s now able to pass on to her students.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I give them 500 words. That&rsquo;s all they have to write these essays, so if you only have 500 words to work with you have to use really strong words. You have to really think about what you&rsquo;re writing,&quot; Finke said.</p><p dir="ltr">And as many of her students near the end of their years, it&rsquo;s these strong words that give them a chance to honor the lives that they&rsquo;ve lived.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-chicago-seniors-reflect-eventful-year-106288 The Hal Higdon interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/hal-higton-interview-105258 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Hal-Portrait.jpg" style="float: right; height: 386px; width: 300px;" title="Hal Higdon" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.6083719501964003">I began running a few years ago and was quickly turned on to the training regimens of today&rsquo;s interviewee, who has maintained careers in both running and writing that are impressive for their quality, output and longevity. &nbsp;He has contributed to </span><em>Runner&#39;s World </em>for longer than any other writer, an article by him having appeared in that publication&#39;s second issue in 1966.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Author of 36 books, including the best-selling <em>Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide</em>, now in its 4th edition, Higdon also has written books on many subjects and for different age groups. His children&#39;s book, <em>The Horse That Played Center Field,</em> was made into an animated feature by ABC-TV. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. At the American Society of Journalist and Author&#39;s annual meeting in 2003, the Society gave Higdon its Career Achievement Award, the highest honor given to writer members. You can learn much more about him and his programs <a href="http://www.halhigdon.com/">here</a>.<br />&nbsp;</div><p><strong>What have been some of the most beautiful runs you&rsquo;ve ever been on?</strong><br /><a href="http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2980.htm">Indiana Dunes State Park</a> remains at the top of my list. There&#39;s a bit of everything: flat and fast to steep with scenery, on clear days the Chicago skyline. In second place, maybe the <a href="http://www.redwoods.co.nz/">Redwood Forest in Rotarua, New Zealand</a>. Bermuda has probably the most scenic marathon among the 111 I have run.<br /><br /><strong>What do you find are some of the silliest trends in running, either in terms of training or gear?</strong><br />I&#39;m not sure silly trends exist in running. At least I&#39;m not arrogant enough to brand so-called trends as &quot;silly.&quot; As long as you are a runner, and love the sport as much as I do, I&#39;m comfortable with whatever silliness you carry in your running baggage.<br /><br /><strong>What do you do (or did you do, knowing you don&rsquo;t run quite as much as you used to) when a run is just a slog? Was there a physical or mental way that typically made the run go by faster, or do you just suck it up (or just abort?)</strong><br />Run being a slog? Does that ever happen? Maybe to mere mortals. If there is a physical reason why any run is a slog, then you need to bail out and hope you are not more than 10 miles from your parked car.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;ve published so many different kinds of writing; what&rsquo;s one style &nbsp;that you never tried that you&rsquo;d like to (or that you wished you were more proficient at)?</strong><br />If you had asked me that question 3 or 4 years ago, I would have answered that I would like to write a novel. But since that time, I fulfilled that desire to write a work of fiction. Titled simply <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Marathon-A-Novel-Hal-Higdon/dp/0963634607/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3">Marathon</a></em>, it describes the 72 hours leading up to a major marathon that strongly resembles Chicago.<br /><br /><strong>What was your reaction to the New York marathon being canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy?</strong><br />I don&#39;t want to second-guess <a href="https://twitter.com/nyrrmaryruns">Mary Wittenberg</a>, director of the New York City Marathon, or the Mayor who in their earliest pronouncements in the middle of the week immediately after the hurricane wanted the marathon to proceed as planned. I thought then it was a bad decision, but they corrected themselves and cancelled the race. That was the right decision, even if it came at a late hour. It did not make sense to me to have runners frolicking through the streets of New York while people were suffering, their homes destroyed, without power. Many runners decided to run anyway in Central Park without worry about time and distance. Others went to near the starting line in Staten Island to help in the cleanup. I applaud them all. I also applaud all those who told the marathon organizers, no, this is not something we want happening in our back yards during this critical time for New York City.<br /><br /><strong>Running seems so incredibly basic yet it continues to be a topic of much conversation and publication. Why does such a simple activity generate so much discussion, reflection and advice?</strong><br />It&#39;s a self-help topic, certainly. Back when I first got into running, nobody cared much about the sport, except at the Olympic level and, in the case of the marathon, once a year at Boston. But now we have marathons that attract tens of thousands of runners. We are an attractive demographic, so our foibles attract a certain amount of interest.<br /><br /><strong>Related, running is an incredibly intimidating activity for many people. Why do you think it&rsquo;s so much more daunting to many people than, say, bike riding?</strong><br />Daunting? I probably put more miles in biking these days than I do running, and whether the word &quot;daunting&quot; should be attached to running, I don&#39;t know. I also hate the word &quot;grueling&quot; being attached to our endurance events. I&#39;m going to suggest that biking is a lot more dangerous an activity than running, particularly in areas where we share the roads with four-wheeled or four-legged creatures. Cars can&#39;t hit you and dogs can&#39;t chase you when you&#39;re running cross-country.<br /><br /><strong>What do you typically think about when you run?</strong><br />Anything and everything. One of the great pleasures of running is to allow your mind to freewheel while you run. Anything can attract my attention from a seagull pitter-pattering on the beach to a sunset to an attractive female runner who says, &quot;Hi&quot; as we pass, even though we may never see each other again.<br /><br /><strong>I had lunch with some friends last year who were in town to run the Chicago Marathon and I said that marathon running/training didn&rsquo;t seem very fun to me. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not,&rdquo; they confirmed. Do you agree?</strong><br />No, but I don&#39;t really care whether anyone--particularly non-runners--considers what we do as being &quot;fun.&quot; Just please get out of our way, but it would be nice if you kept your dog on the leash and didn&#39;t text while driving past us in your overpriced cars. But, hey, hasn&#39;t the focus of this interview been rather negative so far. I would rather focus on running as a positive, rather than a negative. If running were that difficult, you wouldn&#39;t find so many people doing it these days.<br /><br /><strong>Throughout your life you&rsquo;ve accomplished so much as both a writer and a runner. In the last couple of decades, which was more difficult to generate, running goals or writing goals?</strong><br />Running goals were easy. At the start of the year, you simply asked yourself, what do I want to accomplish in the next 12 months? For me, it might have been successful participation in an Olympic Trial. It might have been trying to win a world masters championship. Or it might be simply getting through the year healthy and uninjured. Writing goals? I&#39;m not sure I had any writing goals. Each article assignment, each book contract, provided a goal of some sort. The goal was to finish the assignment, to get paid, then to move onto the next assignment.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;ve mentioned in <a href="http://www.ujenafitclub.com/ninter.php/14">other interviews that you&rsquo;re an incredibly organized writer</a>. What are some of your methods for staying so organized?</strong><br />Did I use the word &quot;incredibly?&quot; That seems to be a bit of an overreach. If Hemingway had ever used &quot;incredibly&quot; in a first draft, that would have been the first word scratched out in draft two. Organization? It&#39;s part of a person&#39;s mindset. It&#39;s not being afraid of doing what you&#39;re good at doing. I&#39;ve always been able to get up in the morning, go for a run (or more often now a bike ride), have breakfast, then sit down at the typewriter (or more often now a computer) and begin the job of the day. I&#39;ve never suffered writer&#39;s block. I don&#39;t know what it is. Starting each assignment, I usually had a clear path down the road to finishing the job. Because I was a good researcher and interviewer, I usually knew the ending before I knew the beginning. One editor once told me that she loved my articles, because they had a beginning, a middle and an end. Made her job much easier. She could concentrate on commas rather than paragraphs. I took whatever time it took to do produce as perfect a product as possible. It might be an hour&#39;s worth of work for a 600-word column. It might be a year or more for a 100,000-word book. I&#39;ve never felt I had a &quot;method&quot; for writing. Nothing that would make the cover of a magazine aimed at embryo writers. I just wrote. Organization enabled me to write swiftly, because I never had to pause to think of what to say next.<br /><br /><strong>You originally got your start as an aspiring comics writer. Do you still enjoy comics? Which do you read?</strong><br />Actually my aspiration was not to be a comics writer; it was more to be a comics artist. But in creating the art, I also created the words that accompanied the art. My goal in high school was to someday create a comic strip the near equal of <em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_and_the_Pirates_%28comic_strip%29">Terry and the Pirates</a> </em>by the most accomplished writer/artist of the era when I was in high school, maybe of any era. Milton Caniff, and he was considered the Rembrandt of the Comic Strips. I drew comic strips in high school, but also wrote them. Eventually, I realized I was a much better writer than runner and shifted careers. I rarely read comic books any more. They cost too much vs. the 10 cents I paid when I was a kid. They also drag the stories out too long. Too much fighting and not enough thought. My son has a subscription to <em>The Amazing Spider-Man</em>, so I borrow his copies now and then and read them eight at a time. I more often read the comic strips that come with the papers. Sadly, they are shrunk to such tiny boxes that sometimes it&#39;s hard to read the word balloons. You almost need a magnifying glass for Doonesbury. With the shrunken sizes, all the well drawn adventure strips have disappeared. You don&#39;t see anything as well drawn or well written as <em>Prince Valiant</em>, <em>Tarzan</em> or <em>Flash Gordon</em> any more. Instead, we&#39;re stuck with gag-a-day. Among that genre, I like <a href="http://www.gocomics.com/frazz">Frazz</a>, because he&#39;s a runner and triathlete and <em>For Better or For Worse</em>, because there&#39;s some continuity to the story line. I might add that I collect original comic art and have a lot of it hanging on my office walls. I&#39;m staring at a <em>Daredevil</em> page by John Romita, Jr. right now.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;ve said that when you were younger, running wasn&rsquo;t an acceptable activity for anyone over 17. Why do you think that was so, and what, broadly, do you think was the turning point for running becoming a more widespread hobby?</strong><br />There was no competitive opportunities: no track meets or road races, or at least very few opportunities for out-of-school athletes. When I first ran Boston in 1959, only about 100 others participated. Very few track or cross-country runners continued beyond high school and college, and most of them were fairly accomplished, capable of sub-3 marathon times. But the focus had begun to shift toward a fitness-based sport, prompted by best-selling books by Bill Bowerman (<em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Jogging-William-J-Bowerman/dp/0448144433/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_3">Jogging</a></em>) and Dr. Ken Cooper (<em><a href="http://www.cooperaerobics.com/About/Our-Leaders/Kenneth-H-Cooper,-MD,-MPH.aspx">Aerobics</a></em>), but also an article about the Boston Marathon titled &quot;<a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1135211/index.htm">On the Run from Dogs and People</a>&quot; that I wrote for<em> Sports Illustrated</em> in 1963. By the end of the 1960s, a thousand runners entered Boston, and running was en route to becoming a mainstream sport, helped by Frank Shorter&#39;s gold medal in the Olympic Marathon in 1972.<br /><br /><strong>What do you like most about using social media as a tool for coaching?</strong><br />I can do it at home.<br /><br /><strong>How does it feel to be the 339th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />It depends on who you pick for # 340.</p></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 08:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/hal-higton-interview-105258 The Alex Witchel Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/alex-witchel-interview-105125 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Alex%20Witchel%20%28c%29Fred%20R.%20Conrad.jpg" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Photo: Fred R. Conrad" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.14308323548754143">Today&rsquo;s interviewee is the author of the sad, delicious and fascinating memoir </span><a href="http://www.amazon.com/All-Gone-Dementia-Refreshments-ebook/dp/B0085DO9MO">All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother&#39;s Dementia. With Refreshments</a>, which is a heartbreaking account of the author&rsquo;s smart and strong mother &ldquo;disappearing from sight&rdquo; while honoring her traditions by sharing her comforting recipes. She is also a staff writer for T<a href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/alex_witchel/index.html?inline=nyt-per">he New York Times Magazine</a> and originated the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/27/dining/anne-saxelby-making-new-yorkers-say-cheese-feed-me.html?_r=0">Feed Me</a>&rdquo; column for the Times Dining section. She has contributed to New York, Vogue, Elle, and Ladies&rsquo; Home Journal, among other publications. The author of three previous books, she lives in New York.</div><p><br /><strong>After taking care of your mother and examining what happened to her and your own relationship, what steps (if any) have you taken to leave your family directions for your own old age, in case your own mind does start to fade? (picture me spitting on the ground three times right now).</strong><br />Picture me spitting right next to you!<br /><br />Here&rsquo;s the thing about human beings: none of us really thinks we&rsquo;re going to lose our minds, we believe that only happens to other people. All those people standing out on the street smoking? Not one of them thinks he or she is going to get cancer. Someone else will.<br /><br />There&rsquo;s actually something to be said for this membrane of denial because it allows us to both get to sleep and get out of bed in the morning.<br /><br />All of which I suppose is a long way of saying no, I have given no one any directions of any sort. If my own mind does fade, I can only hope my family treats me kindly, and when they&rsquo;re too busy, that they pay someone else to treat me kindly on their behalf.<br /><br /><strong>If a friend of yours realized his or her own parent began to suffer from dementia, is there anything practical or otherwise, you would tell him or her to prepare themselves?</strong><br />The most important thing I would tell them is that you can&rsquo;t fix it. That was my biggest mistake, thinking that if I found the best doctor, the best medication, my mother would be cured. Unfortunately, dementia doesn&rsquo;t care if your doctor went to Harvard. Harvard makes it laugh.<br /><br />I would also say, you can&rsquo;t prevent dementia. I know of people, perfect specimens, who exercised daily, ate kale -- and still got thrown under the bus. I&rsquo;m not talking here about forgetting people&rsquo;s names or where you put your car keys. I&rsquo;m talking about getting into your car to drive home and you have no idea where home is or how to get there. I&rsquo;m talking about opening a book and reading a paragraph and by the time you get to the end of it, you can&rsquo;t remember how it began.<br /><br />I would also tell a friend that the only thing you can do is try to surround your parent with people who love him or her and treat them with dignity and respect. Never to speak down to them or over them or assume they are idiots who cannot understand you. The thing about the stroke-related dementia my mom has is that for a very long time, she could just appear as herself for a minute or two, and if someone was disrespecting her, she was either furious or deeply upset. When she was enjoying herself, though, it was a gift.<br /><br />And try to keep your parent involved in outside activities as much as possible, whether classes of a sort or family gatherings, so he or she can see other people and have things to look forward to.<br /><br /><strong>Why did you choose not to include your sister Phoebe&rsquo;s death in the book?</strong><br />My sister Phoebe died of metastatic breast cancer on Feb. 17, 2012, after being diagnosed and living at Stage 4 for four years. She was 44 and left a husband and two sons, 8 and 4. I finished writing &ldquo;All Gone&rdquo; a month or so before her death. I was so devastated, I wasn&rsquo;t sure what to do about it, but my editor convinced me to leave the book as it was. I had meant it to be about my mother&rsquo;s dementia, the two of us coming to terms with it and so it remained. I also like the idea that in the book, Phoebe is always alive. That makes me happy.<br /><br /><strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Girls-Only-ebook/dp/B0012D1CVK/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1359050450&amp;sr=1-3">This isn&#39;t the first time</a> you&#39;ve written about your mother; how did she react when you&#39;ve written about her before, and how much advance notice did you give her on what you&#39;d publish?</strong><br />She loved it, actually. I think many people wish to be seen or acknowledged in some way, and in our world today, everyone can do that on Facebook or Twitter, wherever they want. She was of a generation that did not have that option and she trusted that I would treat her fairly. When I published &ldquo;Girls Only&rdquo; in 1997, a book based on columns I had written for the Times about Mom, Phoebe and me taking field trips around the city she was beside herself. Proud of me, certainly, but more than a little tickled to be the subject of a book. I read each chapter to her and to Phoebe well in advance of its publication and they were both fine about it.<br /><br /><strong>Who are some of your favorite fictional mother/daughter duos?</strong><br />I&rsquo;m embarrassed to say that none come to mind except &ldquo;Anywhere But Here&rdquo; by Mona Simpson which I thought was terrific. I&rsquo;ve actually been fixated recently on &ldquo;Little Women,&rdquo; which I haven&rsquo;t read in at least 30 years. I never did understand why Beth died. What was wrong with her, exactly? And why couldn&rsquo;t Marmee, the best mother in the world, figure it out? And was Meg really a sellout to get married while Jo forged her &ldquo;scribbling&rdquo; career or was she actually happier than Jo who worked like a dog and ended up with an old German? And even though Amy was spoiled and silly, isn&rsquo;t that better than being dead? And who wants to eat blancmange, anyway? If you weren&rsquo;t sick already, wouldn&rsquo;t it make you sick?<br /><br /><strong>How frequently do you read your reviews? Does criticism hurt more or less when it&rsquo;s about fiction versus nonfiction?</strong><br />I tend to read the ones I know about. And it all hurts equally.<br /><br /><strong>Which tends to be more difficult for you to write, fiction or nonfiction? Which is more pleasurable?</strong><br />I would have to say that non-fiction is more satisfying. I guess it comes from 22 years as a newspaper reporter, but I&rsquo;m a sucker for real life. Fiction is definitely more difficult for me. Having written two novels, I found it to be something like baking: deliberate and measured and calculated to come out just so, or maybe that&rsquo;s how I understood the job, or misunderstood it. Non-fiction is much more messy and nuanced; trying to figure out human behavior is like reading a great book that never ends. There&rsquo;s always something you didn&rsquo;t count on. I think it&rsquo;s why people will always read newspapers, even on a machine.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;ve discussed important meals in your book and other writing, but what about &lsquo;unimportant&rsquo; meals? What do you tend to make when you don&rsquo;t have time, don&rsquo;t want to leave the house to get groceries, don&rsquo;t want to think?</strong><br />I love pizza more than almost anything. The key to frozen pizza leftovers is to defrost them in the microwave, then put them in the toaster oven at a high temperature to crisp and brown it. Yum!<br /><br />I eat scrambled eggs probably three times a week, which is too much, but I love them and<br />that&rsquo;s what Crestor&rsquo;s for. Phoebe loved them with ketchup, so I&rsquo;ve found myself doing that a lot more than I used to. I like it, too.<br /><br />And let&rsquo;s never forget tunafish. Solid white packed in water, drained, mixed with dried dill, celery salt, ReaLemon juice and Hellman&rsquo;s Mayonnaise. That on Saltines is just about a perfect dining experience.<br /><br /><strong>The &nbsp;recipes in your book are old-timey and old-world, which makes me think of when I made my mom&rsquo;s meatloaf recently and had to go out and buy MSG for the recipe, which, of course, made it taste great. Are there any other ingredients of yore that have fallen out of favor that you think should be resurrected?</strong><br />The one recipe that my editor would not let me include in the book was for spinach kugel, which is a noodle pudding threaded with frozen spinach. This was a favorite in my family during the 1970&rsquo;s and it has three ingredients that I suppose I can&rsquo;t defend: stick margarine, Lipton onion soup mix and non-dairy creamer (it was meant to be served in kosher homes as a side dish to roast chicken). Each one of those things qualifies as a chemical nightmare and I can&rsquo;t make a case for any of them. But I promise that if you ate this kugel, you would fall in love.<br /><br /><strong>In your meals with celebrities for the Times, with which interviewees would you most like to have a follow-up coffee?</strong><br />There have been many, but I guess my favorite was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/10/theater/theater-the-real-june-is-still-singing-out.html?pagewanted=all&amp;src=pm">June Havoc,</a> the sister of Gypsy Rose Lee, who was known from the musical and movie version &ldquo;Gypsy&rdquo; as Baby June. She was a terrific actress, director and writer (her memoir &ldquo;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Early-Havoc-June/dp/1258187493">Early Havoc</a>&rdquo; is a show business classic) and she lived on a farm in Stamford, Ct. We were friends for 18 years before she died. She was in her 90&rsquo;s then, though no one really knew how old she was because when she was in vaudeville &ndash; she started at 3 -- her mother lied about her age since she was too young to work the grueling hours she did. (Ten year-olds would claim to be teenagers in order to work five shows a day. But the managers would often make the kids open their mouths and if they didn&rsquo;t see their 12-year molars, they&rsquo;d throw them out!) Havoc was a wonderful character and it was a privilege to know her.<br /><br /><strong>You&rsquo;re in <a href="http://forward.com/articles/161935/simon-rich-is-charming-as-his-life/?p=all">a family of writers</a>: how often is the family trade discussed at group get-togethers, and in what form does it frequently take (IE complaining about writer&rsquo;s block or negative feedback, workshopping ideas, praising SNL sketches, et?)</strong><br />It is almost never discussed at group get-togethers because those are for fun, not work. Work conversations usually happen one-on-one by phone, when necessary. Praise, on the other hand, is free-flowing. We all read each other, when the person wants to be read. It&rsquo;s a great support system, though sometimes the one thing you want is privacy, and we all respect that, too.<br /><br /><strong>How does it feel to be the 338th person interviewed for Zulkey.com?</strong><br />It feels terrific! Thank you for having me.</p></p> Fri, 25 Jan 2013 08:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/alex-witchel-interview-105125 The Jenny Lawson Interview http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/jenny-lawson-interview-104250 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cheesecake_1.jpg" style="height: 424px; width: 620px;" title="Jenny Lawson (Photo by the artist)" /></div><p>Today I talk with Jenny Lawson, the proprietress of the beloved and award-winning humor/parenting site <a href="http://thebloggess.com/">The Bloggess</a>, on which she based her bestselling debut book, the darkly funny memoir <a href="http://thebloggess.com/lets-pretend-this-never-happened-a-mostly-true-memoir/"><em>Let&rsquo;s Pretend This Never Happened</em></a><em>.</em></p><p><strong>Tell me about how </strong><a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hamlet-von-Schnitzel/260380777366651"><strong>Hamlet Von Schnitzel</strong></a><strong> the mouse became the cover of your book.</strong><br />I just wanted to see if I could publish a book with a dead rodent on the cover. Turns out, you can.</p><p><strong>I&rsquo;ve read that one of the reasons you started your blog was so that you</strong><strong> could write a book. Did your journey from blogging to</strong><strong> book-publishing go the way you envisioned? What was harder about</strong><strong> book-writing than you anticipated?</strong><br />It was harder to write the book because it was longer than a blog post.</p><p>This is when you start to question why you asked me for an interview.</p><p><strong>How is your novel coming along? Is fiction more of a challenge or a</strong><strong> release when you write so much nonfiction?</strong><br />Actually it&#39;s another memoir, and right now I&#39;m having such writer&#39;s block that it&#39;s more of a small pamphlet.</p><p><strong>I&rsquo;m </strong><a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/Claire-Zulkey-instr334.html"><strong>teaching a course on blogging</strong></a><strong> this winter and was concerned when I learned I&#39;d have to talk about setting revenue goals when starting a blog. Do you think it&rsquo;s possible for a lone person to create a &ldquo;successful&rdquo; blog (either in terms of traffic or revenue) from the get-go, or is it something that has to be discovered and proven over time?</strong><br />I think it&#39;s possible to make money immediately. Like, if you posted a lot of porn maybe.</p><p><strong>What is your process or policy reading </strong><strong>comments and interacting with your readers?</strong><br />I read all the comments but I hardly ever respond to them because I feel a lot of pressure to be clever and I can&#39;t handle it.</p><p><strong>How much do you keep your daughter in mind when you post online? What if anything have you held back in order to ease her future Googling?</strong><br />I never write anything I think could be used against her by bullies as she gets older. It limits me A TON. But she&#39;s worth it.</p><p><strong>Have you ever published anything online that in hindsight you wished you hadn&rsquo;t?&nbsp;</strong><br />I think you always see the flaws in your own writing and at some point you have to just let go and publish. I try to never write anything hurtful so that I won&#39;t ever feel regret. People can say I&#39;m not funny, and that&#39;s fine. But it would bother me if people said I actually hurt their feelings.</p><p><strong>Is &ldquo;mom blog&rdquo; a pejorative term or just a descriptive one to you?</strong><br />Descriptive, although I prefer &quot;parenting blog.&quot; I&#39;m not a fan of the<strong> </strong>term &quot;mommy blog,&quot; though.&nbsp; It seems a bit condescending.</p><p><strong>If you were to change</strong><strong> tack and blog about a completely different topic, what would you make your beat?</strong><br />I&#39;ve written a <a href="http://www.edenfantasys.com/sexis/adult-humor/clown-porn-50791/">sex column</a> and two <a href="http://thestir.cafemom.com/column/ill_advised">advice columns</a> and I enjoyed them, but I think it might be nice to do something more graphic. (Meaning illustrations &mdash; not that other kind of graphic.)</p><p><strong>How often do you experience professional envy? And if you&rsquo;re up for it,</strong><strong> who is someone you experienced it towards lately?</strong><br />As often as the next person, I suppose. It&#39;s hard to see people who writing comes to so easily. It takes me so long and I labor over every sentence. People like Stephen King &mdash; who are so prolific and talented &mdash; can make me a little frustrated as a writer.</p><p><strong>How does it feel to be the 334<sup>th</sup> person interviewed for Zulkey.com/WBEZ?</strong><br />Blessed, happy and little bit gassy.</p></p> Fri, 07 Dec 2012 10:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/jenny-lawson-interview-104250 Author Patricia McNair mines Midwestern roots for inspiration http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-06/author-patricia-mcnair-mines-midwestern-roots-inspiration-94638 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-06/book-launch-photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>New Hope is a fictional place but thanks to <a href="http://patriciaannmcnair.com/" target="_blank">Patricia Ann McNair</a>, it’s a place full of pain, heartbreak, faith and friendship. New Hope is the setting of <em>The Temple of Air</em> – the latest collection of stories from McNair. It’s no accident that McNair mines a Midwestern setting – the Columbia College professor has spent almost her entire life in the region. And while her experiences shape her stories, they aren’t entirely autobiographical. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> recently spoke with McNair about her stories and characters—and to learn more about how she approaches writing.&nbsp;</p><p>Patricia Ann McNair reads Tuesday evening at the <a href="http://hopleaf.com/" target="_blank">Hop Leaf</a> in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. That’s part of the reading series <a href="http://tuesdayfunk.org/" target="_blank">Tuesday Funk</a>.</p><p><em>Music Button: Boards of Canada, "Hey Saturday Sun", from the album The Campfire Headphase, (Warp)</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Dec 2011 14:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-06/author-patricia-mcnair-mines-midwestern-roots-inspiration-94638 The Patricia Marx interview http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-09-02/patricia-marx-interview-91438 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-02/patricia marx.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Hey! If you want to see someone ask me questions, they selected me as the <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/ourtown/2011/09/crush_of_the_month_claire_zulk.html">Crush of the Month</a> over at the </em>Sun-Times<em>. Of course I got a short month. </em></p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.4442339184959945" style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Today&rsquo;s interviewee has been contributing to </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">The New Yorker</span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;"> since 1989, writing the very funny shopping pieces. The first woman elected to </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">The Harvard Lampoon, </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">she has written for film and TV (including </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Saturday Night Live </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">and <em>Rugrats</em></span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">) </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">and is the author of </span><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Marx/e/B001IODPSQ"><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000099;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:underline;vertical-align:baseline;">several humor and children&rsquo;s books</span></a><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">. Most recently she&rsquo;s the author of the novel </span><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Starting-Happy-Novel-Patricia-Marx/dp/1439101280/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1/180-1576549-5698412"><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Starting From Happy, </span></a><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">which is &ldquo;made up of hundreds of chaplettes, clever illustrations, and darkly funny commentary on getting together and staying the course.&rdquo; (None other than Woody Allen blurbed it.)&nbsp; </span></p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-02/patricia marx.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 181px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="" /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Tell me about the</span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;"> Starting From Happy</span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;"> book cover. Was it your concept? </span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I like to think I invented the color blue, but other than that, the terrific designers at Scribner did it all by themselves.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Do you know what your next big project will be? Or is the current project promoting the new book? </span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Everything&rsquo;s a big project for me, even getting up in the morning.&nbsp; As for work, I have lots of next big projects. That&rsquo;s why I&rsquo;m a nervous wreck. For instance, I&rsquo;m finishing up a one-act musical and I have plans to write another novel and also a humor book.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Do you think you&rsquo;ll return to humor or children&rsquo;s book writing in the future?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">For sure, especially if my answer above can be trusted. I love writing children&rsquo;s books, so I hope I haven&rsquo;t written my last. Depends on when I die, I guess.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Which of the books that you&rsquo;ve published took (or felt like it took) the most work?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">They get progressively harder because my skills for self-criticism are ever-improving.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I read in another interview that you love coming up with fictional names. What are some of your favorite names you&rsquo;ve invented that you&rsquo;ve either used in writing or have yet to see the light of day?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I know I have some great ones, but I forget what they are.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">What&rsquo;s your favorite thing you&rsquo;ve read lately, long or short?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I&rsquo;m liking Gary Shteyngart&rsquo;s </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Super Sad True Love Story</span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean I know how to spell his last name.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I&rsquo;ve come to think of you as the shopping writer for the magazine. How did you come to secure that position? How did it begin?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">The shopping column, On and Off the Avenue, has been in the magazine since its first issue. In the ten or so years previous to my writing it, it had been discontinued, I guess because they couldn&rsquo;t find writers shallow enough. Then, I came along. I don&rsquo;t really know so much about shopping, but I like stuff and I&rsquo;m not too bad at walking around.</span><br class="kix-line-break" /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">The shopping pieces you write for the </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">New Yorker </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">are incredibly fun to read but seem like they&rsquo;re secretly a lot of work, especially in terms of fact-checking. On your end, what&rsquo;s the most onerous part of working on those pieces?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Walking around in cold weather is painfully awful. The hardest piece to fact-check was the one I wrote about </span><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/21/080721fa_fact_marx"><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000099;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:underline;vertical-align:baseline;">Shanghai</span></a><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;"> because so much commerce there is illicit. When the factchecker called many of the stores I covered, she was told that there was no store on the premises.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">What are some of your favorite souvenirs from these excursions?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I have some great dresses and eyeglasses from Shanghai, a hat from Texas, and really great pin-striped jeans from my </span><a href="http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/09/25/060925fa_fact_marx"><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000099;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:underline;vertical-align:baseline;">back to school shopping</span></a><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;"> piece.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Would you say you&rsquo;re fun to shop with? Who are your favorite shopping companions?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Fun to shop with? I&rsquo;m not fun period. My favorite person to shop with is Phoebe Cates, who, by the way, owns a fantastic store, </span><a href="http://nymag.com/listings/stores/blue-tree/"><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000099;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:underline;vertical-align:baseline;">Blue Tree</span></a><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;"> (on 92nd and Madison Avenue). She has the best, best, best eye&mdash;and she&rsquo;s a blast.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">What are some of your least-favorite fashion trends right now?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Next question.</span><br class="kix-line-break" /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">You&rsquo;ll be teaching screenwriting at Princeton this fall. What do you think will be the easiest lessons to impart, and which will be the bigger challenges?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Ask me in December.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">How do you plan on refraining from making the Princeton students feel bad for not attending Harvard?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I plan to grade them according to how much they like me. That is not an answer to your question, but I felt like telling you that.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">How much does your mother read what you write? Does she give you a lot of input? Has she influenced your writing at all?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">My mother reads everything I write, and after it&rsquo;s published, she often points out grammar mistakes I have made. She is a very honest critic, for better or worse, but mostly better. </span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Which SNL sketches did you write that were your personal favorites?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">The only one I can remember is a parody of a breast self-exam. I wrote it with </span><a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0569790/"><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000099;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:underline;vertical-align:baseline;">Doug McGrath</span></a><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">, now a wonderful film director.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">It doesn&rsquo;t seem like you&rsquo;re on Facebook or Twitter. If that&rsquo;s correct, what&rsquo;s kept you away from social networking?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I just joined </span><a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/marxpatty"><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000099;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:underline;vertical-align:baseline;">Twitter</span></a><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">! What&rsquo;s kept me away from social networking is that I&rsquo;m very good at coming up with ways to waste time and am reluctant to sign up for more ways.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I know you&rsquo;re friends with your colleagues Susan Orlean, Nancy Franklin and Roz Chast. Do the gals at the </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:italic;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">New Yorker </span><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">tend to stick together on principle or it&rsquo;s just lucky that you like your colleagues?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I think I might have been friends with those three before I wrote for the <em>New Yorker</em>. Besides, who wouldn&rsquo;t love Susan, Nancy, and Roz? </span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Who (or whose writing) makes you laugh most consistently?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">Steve Martin, Dmitri Martin, but not Dean Martin.</span><br /><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:bold;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">How does it feel to be the 292nd person interviewed for Zulkey.com (and now WBEZ)?</span><br /><span style="font-size:11pt;font-family:Arial;color:#000000;background-color:transparent;font-weight:normal;font-style:normal;font-variant:normal;text-decoration:none;vertical-align:baseline;">I feel like the first. </span></p></p> Fri, 02 Sep 2011 14:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2011-09-02/patricia-marx-interview-91438