I’m reading from a work of non-fiction that’s in progress. It’s part memoir, part sociological inquiry, and deals with my racist upbringing in Cicero…”
What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?
The realization that bona-fide fascism is growing in America, and that average, everyday people now identify as Nazis, just as they did in Germany in the 30’s. I felt that, as a writer, I had to contribute something immediate as a countermeasure.
What are you working on now?
I’m reading from a work of non-fiction that’s in progress. It’s part memoir, part sociological inquiry, and deals with my racist upbringing in Cicero, along with experiences I had while studying and living abroad that helped me see my American identity with greater clarity. The memoir is essentially a deconstruction of the consciousness of hatred.
What was the last great thing you read by another author?
I’m currently about half-way through the complete essays and non-fiction of James Baldwin. They are among the most transforming works I’ve ever read, and I realize I was too young and immature to truly appreciate a book like The Fire Next Time when I read it in college.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?
Prior to this reading experience with Baldwin, it would have been Alan Watts or Shunryu Suzuki. Now that I’m neck deep in Baldwin’s stuff, it would be him, hands down. He was able to see every angle of our culture in America, while also bringing a point of view from the outside, a result of his life in Paris. I think he’s among the most important and engaging authors America has ever produced, and I feel I’d learn more from a dinner conversation with him than I would from a four year program in a reputable American college.