May 23, 2007

"ASK ME, UH-HO-HO, ASK ME"

Hey kids, remember Guthmantics? Sure you do. Well, here is another edition for you. Not that this guy needs my friggin' help to sell books but, eh, here he is. You might remember him from such book jacket blurbs as my novel. Ahem.

Anyway.

Eric Spitznagel is a frequent contributor to magazines like Playboy, Esquire, Maxim, Blender, Harper's, Mean and Salon.com, among many others. He's a contributing editor for The Believer and the Website editor for Monkeybicycle. He's the author of six books, including one that's available in its German-version and features a cat on the cover for no apparent reason.

His latest books are Fast Forward (Manic D Press, 2007), a memoir of his brief career writing screenplays for the adult film industry, and The Hardest (Working) Man In Show Biz (HarperCollins, 2007), the autobiography of hirsute porn star Ron Jeremy. Yes, that's two books about porn in just one year, and yes, his mother is not amused (That's a lie. She is tickled pink.). He has a blog called Vonnegut's Asshole and, hello, he didn't know how to blog before I talked some sense into him. Anyway, I rag him, but really, he's a lamb when he's not bein' a douche. Just look at the blurb he gave me for Three Fallen Women, eh?

1. Tell us what you write, what you have written and how you do it?

Spitzy: I tend to write vastly different things at more or less the same time. It's an even mix of what I've been assigned to write by editors and what I'm writing just for myself, without any promise of compensation. You and I have discussed this a lot. It's an ongoing tightrope for writers to find that perfect balance between what will pay your bills and what needs to be written, because you have to get these words out of your head and onto the page. Just this morning, I put the final touches on an interview with Paul Rudd for Playboy, wrote a few dozen pages for my as-yet-untitled novel, finished a story for Daphne Gottlieb's upcoming anthology "Fucking Daphne," and tinkered with an essay for my blog about the time I touched a monkey on a Caribbean island. It's enough to make a guy feel a little schizophrenic. As for how I write it, that's usually left to chance. It depends on where the muse - damn it's elusive hide - happens to be leading me at any given moment. Trying to write something when you don't give two shits is a pretty hopeless endeavor. Deadlines help, of course, as nothing motivates me like an editor saying "We need this by Friday or you won't get paid." Otherwise, it's just about waiting for lighting to strike. Inspiration is a fickle mistress, and it can't be forced. Sometimes an idea will hit me at the least convenient moment, like while driving on a highway and realizing too late that the nearest pen is just out of my reach. Or after waking up at 4am and I'm still too disoriented to locate the notebook I thought I'd placed next to the bed. I've scrawled sentences on everything from matchbooks to bookflaps to my own skin. You can't tell yourself, "I'll remember this later," because you never will. The best ideas come in a flash, and they hardly ever leave footprints. Trying to remember an idea after it's left is like trying to describe a car accident. "It all happened so fast, it's kinda a blur. There was a loud crash and a lot of screaming and the next thing I knew I was lying in a ditch covered in glass." (Speaking of, here's a weird little piece of trivia-- I was on the phone with him, using my hands-free thank you, when I had my terrible car accident a few years ago. He heard it all and thought I was fucking dead.)

2. What grand things are next for you? What would you, we're talking dream gigs and adventures here, love to be next for you?

Spitzy: I don't have the slightest idea. I've had thoughts about doing something a bit more visual, along the lines of a graphic novel. There's a frustrated cartoonist in me that's been clamoring for attention. The only problem is, I don't have any actual talent for drawing. Granted, neither does Matt Groening, but I don't have enough hubris to think I could compete with "Life in Hell". I'm editing the dirty comedy issue for Monkeybicycle (which, by the way, counts amongst its contributors one Amy Guth), and I somehow convinced Sarah Silverman and Johnny Ryan to collaborate on a comic about her poop. Basically, she explains how each of her defecations are personally taken to heaven by the baby Jesus. I was so ecstatic by the end result that it just wet my appetite to do my own comic. I have absolutely no experience writing comics, and no clue what a Spitznagel comic would even look like - "American Splendor" but without as much cancer and self-loathing, maybe? - but I suppose the first step is finding an artist willing to help me. Other than that, my big passion these days is the Vonnegut's Asshole blog. It's the only thing I write that's 100% for me. Nobody is paying me to write it, and I don't even know if anybody is reading it. It's just a place to write things that are brutally honest, and sometimes reveal more about myself that I'm probably comfortable sharing. I started it last summer as an excuse to plug my last book, "Fast Forward," but it soon evolved into something a bit more personal. It became about trying to take these intimate and very raw moments from my life and look for the humor in them. As I'm the first to admit, it hasn't always worked. I've only pulled it off a few times. I wrote an essay about the anxieties of growing old that I'm pretty proud of, and I like a semi-recent post about childhood stories that become creepy and/or sad towards the end. Most of it is just comedy-for-the-sake-of-comedy. But occasionally I'll write something that's good enough and honest enough and painfully true enough that it feels like I'm really cutting deep into my veins and bleeding on the page. It's an ongoing challenge.

3. What Smiths or Morrissey song or lyric sums it up for you right now?

Spitzy: "Cemetry Gates," without a doubt. There's something about hanging out in a cemetery with an asexual vegetarian and discussing why Oscar Wilde is clearly superior to weepy romantic poets like John Keats and William Butler Yeats that just sounds like the perfect way to spend an evening. I also love how Morrissey mocks himself in that song while pretending to mock others. He rails against plagiarism, but then ignores his own advice and rips off a line ("All those people .... I want to cry") from "The Man Who Came To Dinner". How fucking brilliant is that? On the surface, he seems to be scolding pretentious writers who crib their material from more talented authors. But listen more closely and you'll see that he's really a hypocrite who can't practice what he preaches. I have a soft spot for satire that's so deceptively subtle. And like the best humor, he makes himself the butt of his own joke. It's easy to point out the worst in others, but it's a little more difficult to recognize our own flaws, and to laugh at our own absurd self-righteousness. I enjoy comedy that doesn't attack other people but looks inward and says, "Y'know, I may like to think I'm the moral authority of right and wrong, but it's painfully obvious that I've just got my head up my own ass."

Guth again: Thanks for swinging by, Spitznagel. Now go get a haircut, you damn hippie. Northern California (or "NoCali" as this dipshit has taken to calling it) has made you soft. Anyway, folks, you know the drill by now, right? After you've read his stuff, add them to your LibraryThing and Shelfari collections. Go on, go on.

Want to be a featured author/writer type for Guthmantics? Well, just send an email to me at amy@guthagogo.com and I'll tell you everything you need to know.

1 comment:

marlo said...

i read the porn book before and it's real funny