Credit Joon Mo Kang
“I think the pastime of chatting or candidly talking to people about anything or nothing is fading away,” the stand-up comedian and actor Marc Maron writes in “Waiting for the Punch,” a book that transcribes memorable moments from the more than 800 episodes of his candid, chatty podcast, “WTF With Marc Maron.” “People don’t even want to leave voice messages anymore, let alone talk. We keep a distance from each other because we can. It’s odd and sad.”
“WTF” began as conversations between Maron and fellow comedians, but has grown to include guests like Alice Cooper, Lin-Manuel Miranda and President Barack Obama. As an interviewer, Maron is best known for eliciting answers on deeply personal subjects, and the book emphasizes those – its excerpts are organized by themes that include addiction, mental health, failure and mortality.
Maron asked the musician and novelist John Darnielle (of the Mountain Goats) if he forgives the stepfather who abused him: “No,” Darnielle said. “Which I hate about myself, but I don’t.” In a similar vein, the comedian David Cross said he was resigned to not absolving his father for emotional neglect. “Not once have I ever had that moment that I should let bygones be bygones,” Cross said.
Talking about his own tumultuous relationship with his dad, Bruce Springsteen told Maron: “People don’t end up in my circumstance who generally had these very placid, loving, very happy, fulfilled lives. It’s not how you become a rock-and-roll star.” It is also, to judge by Maron’s frequent neurotic parsing of his own upbringing, not how you become a comedian or a podcast host.
“I fret about any piece of writing I get into, because nothing you do in the past is going to do the next thing, even when you’re in your 80s. I would never sit down and think I was about to turn out something good. Quite the opposite.” – John McPhee, the author of “Draft No. 4,” in an interview on the Princeton University website
Auster on Auster
Paul Auster analyzes his own books in “A Life in Words,” a newly published series of interviews conducted since 2011 by I. B. Siegumfeldt, a professor at the University of Copenhagen. Auster bristles at his work being labeled “postmodern” just because he’s interested in “exposing the inner workings” of his process on the page. “I’m really stumbling,” he said. “I’m really in the dark. I don’t know. And if that – what I would call honesty – qualifies as postmodern, then okay.”
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