What books are sitting on your night stand?
An Anthology Of Odes by Pablo Neruda, Eldridge Cleaver and The Virgin And The Gypsy
Favorite novelist ?
Hard to pick one but John Steinbeck is one of them. Great stories, the sentiment is there and he certainly has the chops. His attention to detail when he describes a mountain, for example, is really quite amazing.
Writers of today? Journalists of today? Poets, novelists, journalists, non fiction?
Matt Taibi. He’s smart, to the point and funny, clever. Poetry, a word I can’t stand, isn’t my favorite category but Neruda I do love. His ability to make an onion sound like the most beautiful thing ever created is something I relate to- it’s a wonder of life like the lizard or the Bobcat. I don’t read any current writers, I’m still catching up with the past plus I usually don’t care for any art/music/writing/film that comes out today. Since the early nineties I think the soul has disappeared in all of these things. I’m generalizing yes but that’s the way that I feel. Occasionally I’m proved wrong. I watch documentaries, it’s kind of replaced reading for me. There are so many fantastic documentaries and I didn’t know that until I started watching public television. I’m not really a ‘ reader’. Authors that are considered to be classic- a lot them I can’t stand . I tried reading Crime And Punishment and found it unbearable. Yeah I get it that the guy was very talented, maybe a mad genius but I can’t hang. Same with the Sound And The Fury by Faulkner, I tried reading it and thought it was the worst thing I’d ever seen, complete torture. Now Catcher In The Rye, I can read that over and over again and still be moved.
The most meaningful book you’ve written?
‘The Strange Case Of The Flying Meatballs’. It’s a comedy/tragedy that I wrote after my father died- he had Alzheimer’s and eventually dementia. I wanted to write a book that made you laugh and cry on the same page. It would be a great movie and of course a young Marlon Brando in his ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ days would play me.
Who would you like to write your biography?
It would have to be a celluloid hero- Ralph Kramden, with Norton writing the forward.
What books did you read when you were young?
I read ‘Old Yeller’ and the Scottish cartoon ‘Oor Wullie’, which I still read and love.
Name some books you were supposed to like but didn't.
Well I mentioned Crime And Punishment and the Faulkner book…recently I gave ‘Lolita’ a shot and felt like throwing it through a window. Nabokov has great chops, is extremely verbose etc but for me it was completely annoying. Kubricks movie is genius though, and very risqué for the time.
Books by musicians that you like?
There is this guy Jeff Muendel that write a couple of books that I dig-‘Dead, Jail Or Rock And Roll’ the other is ‘The Road Turns Sideways’. ‘The Man In The Little Glass Bottle’- what’s the attraction to the novella form? Purely accidental, that’s just how long it ended up being. I like though that it’s in between a full length and a short story. Plus you can read it in one sitting- in the back of your mind you know you’re gonna get to the end of it so you’re kind of excited.
Literary dinner party- which three writers would you invite?
Carlos Castaneda , Alan Watts and Charles Bukowski.
What book do you read over and over again?
The Catcher In The Rye. In a lot of ways I am Holden. I’ve read the book quite a few times but just noticed the last time I read it, on a plane, that it begins with him in a mental institution and ends with him in the same place. He just tells the story of how he got there. Did the shittiness of society make him nuts along with his awareness , was it his family or was it just being born? The story of a gifted madman.
Alex’s books can be ordered on line. Read ‘em both and I love ‘em.