I don’t feel guilt to begin with. I guess a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me was a book called “Thinking Small,” about the beginning of the Volkswagen Beetle, by Andrea Hiott. She did a great job telling the story of New York advertising, the Nazis and Ferdinand Porsche colliding to create this amazing car which people take for granted because it’s so common, but it was such an insanely brilliant invention as a car. I read car magazines. I guess that would be my guilty pleasure. And sometimes old Superman comics.
What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?
The first Marx Brothers movie was “The Cocoanuts,” which was originally a play that they did. And talkies had just happened, and a couple of years later Hollywood was looking around for anybody that could talk on film, and obviously grabbed the Marx Brothers. And so they made this movie. Nobody really knew how to make a movie; they just kind of shot the play, onstage. And the brothers hated it. They hated it so much, they wanted to buy it back so it wouldn’t be released. Then it was a gi-monster hit and it made a fortune. That’s so much fun to read, stuff like that. People do things and they hate them and the public loves them, and then they have to change their thinking on it.
How do you organize your books?
I use a bookshelf. If you stack them up, as opposed to putting them on end, you’re not going to read them. Any book that’s on its side, you’re never going to read it. If it’s up, and you can just put your fingers on the top and slide it out, you might read that one.
So you’re not, like, a big Dewey decimal guy?
No. “Dewey decimal” — how old are you?
What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
Sadly, nothing. It’s comedians, cars, and I even have books about coffee. So — yeah. I have to confess that I’m so exhausted from writing that I don’t want to dive into a book most days. I’m so tired of staring at pages.
Were you a big reader as a child?
No. In my 20s and 30s is the most reading I ever did. Then when the business got much more demanding and I was spending hours a day writing, that’s when I stopped reading a lot. I couldn’t spend half my day writing and then the other half reading. I was like, I’m going to go nuts here.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Well, Updike I mentioned. I think David Halberstam would be a great dinner guest. And I’m into this Marx Brothers thing now, so I would like to sit with this guy Bader for dinner. And Lincoln! I consider him to be a great writer.