The WORD Interview with Dave Reidy

July 8, 2009

DaveReidy_photographerJohnKuttenbergWe’re celebrating mid-season for the WORD basketball league this Sunday with a special brunch and event at the store. Basketball, Brunch and Books will feature Dave Reidy, author of the new short story collection Captive Audience. Dave will read his short story “Postgame”, about the retirement and fast-following fatherhood of a scrappy NBA guard. We’ll start the event at about 12:15 or so, after the WORD basketball teams finish up their Sunday morning games. Come by American Playground between 10:30 – noon to watch the players in action. Then join us across the street at the store for breakfast goodies and the reading. (Yes, there will be Peter Pan Donuts!) Here’s The WORD Interview Dave recently did with us:

1) Do you have a favorite WORD?

The fact that this question sent me scurrying to my inbox to scan the subject lines of old Word of the Day e-mails leads me to answer, no. No I don’t.

2) What WORDS do you live by?

“Rejection is the default state.” I don’t think that any of us should be surprised if a person doesn’t like our work. Why should she? Even if she thinks it’s good writing, she might not like it. Keeping this reality in mind helps me to see kind words from a person who likes my work for what they are: evidence of a small miracle.

3) What was the last book you read?

I am in the midst of reading The Magus by John Fowles. I have read 370 pages of it and have 286 to go. I’m in. I’m enjoying it. I’m seeing it through to the end.

4) Any idea what you’ll read next?

I’ve got my next two books all lined up. First, The Third Man by Graham Greene, a slim novel to follow up the monster Magus. Then I’ll devour the rest of And Here’s The Kicker, a nonfiction book I read in part in manuscript form. The book is a collection of interviews with the greatest comedy writers of our time, skillfully rendered by my friend Mike Sacks.

5) What is the last book you bought someone as a gift? (If you bought it at an indie store, let us know which one!)

In May, I was shopping with my fiancee at Quimby’s in Chicago, a great indie bookstore. A book called The 9-inch Diet caught her eye and I picked it up for her. It’s a very well designed book that tells the story of how American portion sizes–and waistlines–have grown with the size of our plates. In 1970, the average American dinner plate was nine inches in diameter. Today, it is twelve inches. Authors (and ad men) Alex Bogusky and Chuck Porter make a pretty compelling case that plate size has everything to do with obesity in these United States.

cap6) Can you name one author or book that was influential in writing any of the stories in Captive Audience?

Jim Shepard. In 2005, I heard Jim Shepard read “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” a story told from the point of view of deceased Who bassist John Entwistle. At that time, I was halfway through a first draft of “In Memoriam,” a story told from the perspective of the living Abe Vigoda. Months later, Shepard was kind enough to read “In Memoriam” and to tell me a few things he liked about it. Writing “In Memoriam” taught me how much I enjoy writing about performers, and I followed that enjoyment straight into–and through–the other six stories in Captive Audience. And Shepard also writes great stories that take sports as their starting point–“Batting Against Castro,” “Ajax Is All About Attack” and “Messiah” are three of his finest.

7) Can you tell us a little bit about “Postgame” the piece you will read for us at WORD?

In some sense, Captive Audience is a collection of stories about people who know exactly what they want to do, but can’t quite find a way to do it—in “Postgame,” they can’t quite find a way to do it anymore. Tim Vilinski has made a career in the NBA as a journeyman defensive specialist and three-point shooter. When, after ten years, no team wants him, he reluctantly retires and starts the family he has promised to start when his playing days are over. This period in a person’s career–when he is compelled to stop doing that which he has dedicated his life to doing—is fascinating to me. For many, the transition is brutal—some never quite make it. But what makes the situation so rich for storytelling is the family backdrop—Tim’s wife, Liz, and their son Matthew. When Tim’s life changes—when his mood changes—Liz and Matthew feel their own lives change.

8) What’s your personal basketball “backstory?” Do you play basketball or are you mostly a fan? College or NBA or both or neither?

I have played basketball since the third grade and have figured out where to be on the floor, which makes me a decent pickup player. To this day, basketball is one of the only ways I can exercise without it feeling like exercise. It’s fun first. I’m a fan of both college and NBA basketball, though I don’t watch much of either until the postseason. I was at Madison Square Garden this past March for the Big East tournament and saw Syracuse outlast UConn in six overtimes. That was really a hell of a game.

9) What are you working on now – anything you can tell share about your next project(s)?

I’m working on a novel about a recovering stutterer who reinvents himself as a voiceover artist while coming to terms with the loss of his first love. He also tries to forge an adult–and, for the first time, speaking–relationship with his younger brother, a rising improv performer. The rest is yet to be determined.

10) We are assuming that this will be your first visit to Greenpoint? But maybe you have a favorite spot in Brooklyn or NY that you esp. enjoy visiting when you come here – can you share?

When I was in New York in March, I stayed in Brooklyn. On Friday afternoon, my three good buddies and I started out in Ft. Greene and walked as much of the borough as we could, ducking into shops and walking through packs of kids on their way home from school. We stopped at the Gorilla Coffee Shop on 5th Avenue in Park Slope and stood outside for a few minutes, having hot drinks and what was perhaps our best conversation of the weekend. There’s no particular reason to go back there, but I won’t forget that place.

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