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Tag: Interview (41-50 of 138)

Gary Shteyngart discusses his upcoming roast, Nabokov, and his sex life

It’s been a decade since the Soviet-born author Gary Shteyngart published his debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. (Or, as he likes to call it, The Russian Debutante’s Handjob.) Since then, he’s developed a top-shelf reputation in the publishing world thanks to celebrated novels like 2006′s Absurdistan and 2010′s Super Sad True Love Story, not to mention popular essaysubiquitous book blurbs, and a highly active Twitter account.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of his debut, the Brooklyn Academy of Music will be hosting a roast of Shteyngart tonight, with high-profile guests like Kurt Andersen, Jay McInerney, and Sloane Crosley getting in on the action. In honor of the writer’s imminent shaming, we got the man on the phone and discussed his career, his fears, and the fate of publishing. He even offered to blurb the interview for us: “Not since Gay Talese failed to interview Frank Sinatra has there been an interview of such importance and scope. The best interview I’ve had since my co-op board.”

Read on to find out more about Shteyngart’s thoughts on sheep, American Airlines, and the person whom he’d most like to roast.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, where are you?
GARY SHTEYNGART:
I’m in the countryside above New York. Upstate, as some might say. It’s really nice here. There are trees, and sheep. A lot of sheep.

Are they your sheep?
Nah, they belong to a sheep farm. But I’d love to rent a few just to mow the lawn, because they eat a lot of grass.

But then you’d have to store them somewhere.
That’s the big problem. Where do you put them? And then how do you not eat them? They’re so tasty.

You just have to resist these urges, Gary. Moving on — your roast is coming up. Are you excited about that?
I am excited! I mean, it’s time to get roasted, I think. It’s been ten years of being a whatever, and it’ll be nice to… well, maybe not celebrate [my work], but they’ll at least allude to it.

Your dog Felix seems to be a little more nervous than you are. Are there any secrets that you or Felix fear will come out during the roast?
Oh, I think they’ll all come out. I mean, people know that I’m illiterate – that’s not a big secret. But there’s so many other dark things. The sheep, for example. My links to Petraeus. I mean, it’s all very dark.

What’s your darkest secret?
That I sometimes dance. There are pictures. Apparently my upper body doesn’t move, it’s just — I’m all legs.

So, Felix — how often does he write, and what kind of stuff usually?
You know, Felix is a very experimental writer. So he’s not exactly the kind of writer I thought he could be. But it’s all this kind of meta-universe where, you know, he can talk. It’s complicated. He went to Iowa. Which is funny, because I didn’t get into Iowa, but my dachshund did. So he’s a proud graduate. And he’s doing a Ph. D in Comp Lit at Yale now, which is annoying, because he’s always gone. He’s always traveling to New Haven. And he’s editing the canine edition of Granta.

If you could roast any writer living or dead, who would it be?
I’d like to roast Nabokov. Wouldn’t that be great? Because you know, he’d blast us, and you wouldn’t imagine he’d permit himself to be roasted. And then I would just invite the things that he feared the most in his life — like the Red Army Choir, maybe. And then I would have all the members of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute show up and serenade him. That could be great.

Did you get to pick who would be roasting you, or was it beyond your control?
Everything’s beyond my control. You think I just woke up one day and said, hey, roast me? They said, look, you have to do this, because that’s how publicity works these days. Anything that’s happening, you have to do it. I’m on Twitter, I’m on Facebook, I’m on — just, help. Help!

When you Google “gary shteyngart,” some of the first autofill results are “gary shteyngart married” and “gary shteyngart girlfriend.” Any thoughts?
Wow! That’s really shocking. I mean, have you seen me lately? Well, I guess shaving part of my beard worked? I didn’t realize I was going to get this kind of adulation. The first book that I wrote, The Russian Debutante’s Handjob, was written just because I wanted someone to share a bed with me. And I guess with these Google results, it’s worked out. But that’s my life. That’s life as a successful contemporary author: they don’t even mention your novels. It’s all about your sex life. And your tweeting. READ FULL STORY

Joseph Gordon-Levitt on 'The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 2' and running around in a cape

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has appeared in four films this past year alone — The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, Looper, and Lincoln — but the actor’s real passion lies with hitRECord, his online collaborative production company that inspires users across the world to come together and create singular works of art. Last year, he released a compilation of those online collaborations in the form of The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1. The first volume was so popular that Gordon-Levitt reunited with collaborator wirrow to produce The Tiny Book of Stories: Volume 2, a brand new collection of moving (and funny!) stories from the hitRECord family and It Books. Gordon-Levitt took the time to talk to EW about this new volume, building a happy online community, and running around in a cape in the privacy of his home. READ FULL STORY

National Book Award winner Katherine Boo on 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers', 'unsexy' topics, and 'American Idol' recaps

Last night, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo won the National Book Award in the nonfiction category for her first book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. We weren’t surprised at all by the win — Forevers is a stunning, must-read account of life in Annawadi, a Mumbai slum where unbelievable atrocities are an everyday occurence. Upon the book’s publication in February of this year, EW’s Jeff Giles predicted Boo’s book would be “a conversation starter, an award winner.” After a night of celebrating, Boo took the time to talk to EW about what it means for a difficult book like hers to win a major award — but before we could get into any of that, she had to get this out of the way: “I really like Annie Barrett’s American Idol recaps. They were like my therapy. I’d be tense over writing my book, and I was like, ‘I need to read Annie Barrett.’”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You were up against some legendary authors in your category. Were you shocked to win?
KATHERINE BOO: I was surprised. I thought it would be Robert Caro [for Passage of Power]. And I think that Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain is a great book and Anthony Shadid, for anybody who is writing overseas, is a legend. So I was quite surprised. It’s a whole thing where you’re supposed to write a speech in case you win, and I thought that was kind of lame. [Laughs] I couldn’t do that. I was sitting there realizing, “Oh gosh, I should have written a speech.” READ FULL STORY

Author Jami Attenberg on 'The Middlesteins'

Jami Attenberg, author of The Kept Man and The Melting Season, has experienced a breakthrough of sorts with her latest novel The Middlesteins, which has reached No. 25 on the hardcover fiction best-seller list and is one of Amazon’s picks for best books of the year. Set in a Chicago suburb, the novel tracks the effect Edie Middlestein’s food obsession has on the rest of her family. As Edie’s health deteriorates, her husband of almost 40 years leaves her, placing the burden on their seething daughter Robin, their good-natured son Benny, and his tightly wound wife Rachelle. Attenberg took the time to talk to EW about food addiction and family in The Middlesteins, as well as her career reinvention. READ FULL STORY

License to kill (at telling anecdotes): Sir Roger Moore remembers his time playing 007

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Thanks to Skyfall, the world has contracted James Bond fever again — and even former 007-er Sir Roger Moore isn’t immune. “It’s absolutely marvelous,” says the British actor of the latest Bond adventure, which opens in the U.S. today. “It’s the best Bond film without a doubt.”

READ FULL STORY

National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick on her heartbreaking novel 'Never Fall Down'

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Patricia McCormick’s Never Fall Down is the haunting story of the Cambodian Genocide as told from the perspective of Arn, an 11-year-old boy who’s taken from his home and forced to work in the rice fields for the Khmer Rouge. There, Arn volunteers for a band and discovers his affinity for music. The decision saves his life, but it also thrusts him into the middle of Killing Fields, where he’s forced to commit atrocities.

Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, Never Fall Down was recently named a National Book Award finalist. The winners won’t be announced until November, but McCormick took the time to talk to EW about the nomination, her interviews with the real Arn, and the power of a simple song.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congrats! You’re a National Book Award finalist. You’ve been one before for Sold, but how does it feel this time around?
PATRICIA McCORMICK: It’s meaningful for this book because it needs that seal of approval for some more cautious readers, people who wouldn’t necessarily be interested in reading a book like this. It validates storytelling as a way of healing. This is all about how Arn healed by revealing the worst things about his past. We all have these stories to tell and by telling them we will free ourselves.

Was it difficult to get Arn to share his story?
Yes and no. He would become that 11-year-old all over again. He would jump away sometimes from the more difficult aspects of it. My job was to lead him back without re-traumatizing him. There were days when the two of us would cry and have to call it quits. There were other times where I would have to stand firm as the witness and show that I could listen to what he was telling me.

READ FULL STORY

Drop your forks, ladies -- 'Sad Desk Salad' author Jessica Grose has something new to chew on

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Getting paid to sit around in your pajamas and write mean things about strangers on the Internet — sounds easy, right? But as Jessica Grose proves in her new novel, professional blogging is much more grueling (and even less glamorous) than it seems.

For Sad Desk Salad protagonist Alex Lyons, working for a popular women’s website is one third dream job, two thirds nightmare. She spends 12 hours a day writing posts that hit a nerve — at the cost of rarely seeing daylight, constantly being insulted by anonymous commenters, and never quite knowing how secure her job is. Things get more complicated when Alex receives a salacious video from an unnamed source. Posting it could make her career — or destroy her last shred of integrity.

Though the book is fiction, it contains more than a kernel of truth: Grose has worked as an editor at both Jezebel and Slate’s DoubleX vertical. (I interned at Slate when Grose worked there, though we rarely interacted.) Shortly after Sad Desk Salad hit shelves, I called Grose to chat about working online, the perils of privacy in the Internet age, and the best way for a blogger to keep her sanity. Hint: It involves avoiding Google.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you decide to write a novel?
JESSICA GROSE:
Well, I had been seeing the issues that I deal with in the novel — privacy, and how journalists are navigating new media — for at least the past five years. I really wanted to talk about those issues, but I didn’t want to do it in a serious way — if I did it as nonfiction, I’d have to take a stand. And I think it’s such an ambiguous, complicated issue; it would be much more interesting to weave those conflicts into a fictional narrative. Also, I wanted to have a little fun. [laughs] I actually started writing it just to entertain myself, which sounds goofy.

How did you come up with the title?
There’s actually a very new media explanation.

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Will Schwalbe discusses his affecting new memoir 'The End of Your Life Book Club'

When Mary Anne Schwalbe was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, she didn’t want to slow down. A tireless advocate for refugees around the world, Mary Anne didn’t stop striving to build a library in Afghanistan — or continuing to discover new literature with her son Will. In his engrossing, deeply moving new memoir The End of Your Life Book Club (EW grade: A), Will Schwalbe writes about his mother’s last days through the prism of the things they read together. He took the time to talk to EW about his mother’s inspiring legacy and the transformative power of books.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your mother Mary Anne was clearly an exceptional person with very impressive accomplishments and passions — but in a way, I felt like she was every great mom, and you were like every child of a great mom who wanted to give her the tribute she deserved.
WILL SCHWALBE: There’s no reaction that could make me happier than that reaction. I’m very proud of my mother. But when she died, there was no obituary in the New York Times. She wasn’t famous. In fact, I don’t think her name was ever in the New York Times, and that’s true of most people’s moms. I like to think of her as an extraordinary, ordinary person. There are so many extraordinary, ordinary people across the country — people who are fantastic mothers and adore their children, and their children adore them, and do incredible things in their communities. I was in publishing for 21 years, and I saw a lot of really wonderful memoirs by people who had very difficult times with their mothers. In fact, it’s almost a kind of genre, yet there are a lot of people who have great mothers. In some ways, I feel like this is a celebration of moms. READ FULL STORY

Jessica Khoury talks YA debut, 'Origin'

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“Hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest is a secret laboratory where a group of scientists have created the first (and only) member of a new immortal race. But after Pia sneaks out of the compound and meets a local village boy, she begins to question—wait for it—her origin.” That was the blurb featured in EW’s recent roundup of the latest YA novels. Now that Jessica Khoury’s debut novel has been on shelves for a few weeks, we decided to catch up with her and get the, well, origin story of Origin. Check it out, and then read an excerpt from the first chapter after the jump.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did you come up with the idea for Origin
JESSICA KHOURY: 
All at once! I was taking a walk one day and an image popped into my head of a girl trapped by glass walls and surrounded by jungle, separated from the boy she loved. I was so intrigued by her that I asked myself question after questions about her and her situation, and several minutes later ran home with the whole story in my mind. I started on chapter one that very day and kept writing until I had a finished draft, one month later. I was so in love with Pia and her story that I couldn’t pull myself away.

The Amazon rain forest is an interesting setting. Any particular reason you chose that place?
The Amazon is one of the last true frontiers left on our planet. With so much of it still to be explored and so many plants and species yet to be identified, it’s the perfect setting for Pia’s laboratory. This precious resource is drenched in beauty and mystery, and I loved digging deep into the rich color and life hidden beneath the jungle canopy. It truly becomes a character of its own in the story.


Origin has been out for a month now. What’s the general reaction been so far?
We’ve had such wonderful support from sellers like Barnes & Noble and Apple’s iBookstore, both of which chose Origin as one of their best books of September. The response has been just phenomenal; I love opening my email to see letters from readers! It validates every moment I spend putting one word after another.

This is a standalone book, which goes against the current trend of YA trilogies. Why decide to do just one book?
From the start, Origin felt like a complete story on its own. I toyed briefly with the idea of stretching it to more books, but instead of overextending the storyline, I decided to keep it compact and self-sufficient. I think it’s great to give readers a book in which they can get the whole story without having to wait a year on a cliffhanger. 


Do you think you’ll ever revisit this story?
I think readers will enjoy envisioning the characters’ futures beyond Origin. There’s certainly room for more adventures to happen, but for now, I’ll leave it as it stands. But you never know what the future will hold! 


Origin is your first novel, do you have anything else in the works?
Yes. I’m currently working on my next book for Razorbill. It will be similar to Origin, but not a sequel.


What are some of your favorite YA books right now?
I really loved Elizabeth Richards’ Black City and Morgan Rhodes’ Falling Kingdoms, both of which are coming out later this year. In fact, all of the Penguin Breathless Reads are fantastic. Right now I’m halfway through Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, and it’s just fabulous.

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R.L. Stine on his new adult novel 'Red Rain' and his fear of twins -- EXCLUSIVE TRAILER

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R.L. Stine is famous for traumatizing generations of kids (me included) with his terrifying Goosebumps series — but on Oct. 9 he’ll turn his attentions to grown-ups. Red Rain, one of the prolific author’s few novels for adults, tells the story of a writer named Lea Sutter who’s staying on a small island off the coast of South Carolina. After a hurricane hits the unsuspecting town, Lea decides to help the island get back on its feet and ends up adopting two boys in the process. She takes them back to her home in Long Island, but her husband Mark and their two children Ira and Elena are less than pleased. When strange things start happening around the neighborhood, Lea and Mark are forced to ask themselves how far they’re willing to go to protect the boys’ lives, especially if those lives might cost them everything they hold dear.

Stine took the time to talk to EW about his new book, his fear of twins, and his love of fan mail. When you’re done reading the interview, check out the exclusive trailer for Red Rain below. READ FULL STORY

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