SpeakEasy Blog

Seriously Questioning…Itamar Moses

Itamar Moses is the Tony Award-winning author of the full-length plays The Band’s Visit, Outrage, Bach At Leipzig, Celebrity Row, The Four of Us, Yellowjackets, Back Back Back, and Completeness, and various short plays and one-acts. His work has appeared Off-Broadway and elsewhere in New York, at regional theatres across the country and in Canada, and has been published by Faber & Faber, Heinemann Press, Playscripts Inc., Samuel French, Inc., and Vintage. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, MCC Playwrights Coalition, Naked Angels Mag 7, and is a New York Theatre Workshop Usual Suspect. He is presently adapting Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress Of Solitude.

On October 16, he will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show, Forget Me Not, alongside Laura Spinney, Gregory Pardlo, and Joel Rose. We spoke to Itamar ahead of the show.

What is your earliest memory involving reading or writing?

My earliest memories of reading are probably reading children’s books during free time at school. And reading in bed for as long as I was allowed before having to turn off the light. I was a big reader as a kid. My earliest memories of writing are probably stories I had to write in school — which I always liked. Creative work never felt like “work” to me, back then.

What is your favorite first line of a novel?

I’ve always loved the first sentence of The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which — and I’m quoting from memory — goes something like: “Snow was in the mountains and Bunny had been dead for four days before we realized the gravity of our situation.”

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Career-wise, I would say learn to treat rejection as neutral and anything short of rejection as enormous encouragement. Be persistent. And put the work first. Artistically I would say cultivate hobbies, things you do for no purpose, only because they stimulate you in some way — don’t try to make everything you do and see immediately “useful” to your work because, paradoxically, this has the effect of choking off the channels of creativity.

What writer past or present do you wish you could eat dinner with?

It’s actually in my experience usually a good idea not to meet your heroes. But the living writer I’ve not met who I most wish I could is probably David Mitchell. Dead ones: too many to name.

What are you reading right now?

At the moment, two memoirs. A memoir about how terrible Hollywood is called Can’t You Get Along With Anyone? by Allan Weisbecker. And I finally got around to starting My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgard which, spoiler alert, is good so far.

What fictional character do you most closely identify with?

I don’t really do this anymore as much as I used to when I was young. Maybe because by now I’ve based so many characters on aspects of myself that the need is siphoned off.

If you could live inside a fictional world, which one would you choose?

I think we’re all increasingly sure that we already do, right? Though this isn’t the one I would choose.

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you?

The one about just going ahead and beginning things because boldness has magic in it. I like that one. Also, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

 

Seriously Questioning…Richard M. Cohen

Richard M. Cohen is a journalist and producer, having spent 25 years in network television news on shows such as PBS’s McNeil Lehrer Report and The CBS Evening News, where he was the recipient of numerous awards in journalism, including three Emmys, a George Foster Peabody and a Cable Ace Award. Cohen is the author of… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Elliot Ackerman

Elliot Ackerman is the author of the novels Dark at the Crossing, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Green on Blue. His writings have appeared in Esquire, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications, and his stories have been included in The Best American Short… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Faith Salie

Faith Salie is an Emmy-winning contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning and a panelist on NPR’s Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! She also hosts the PBS show, Science Goes to the Movies. Her book, Approval Junkie, a collection of essays chronicling her lifelong quest for validation, has been called “disturbingly hilarious.” On September 18, she will be speaking… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Caroline Weber

Caroline Weber is a Professor of French at Barnard and the author of The New York Times Notable Book, Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. Her essays have appeared in a wide variety of academic and mainstream publications. She has published articles on eighteenth-century authors such as Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Sade, Charrière, and La Chaussée,… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Kashana Cauley

Kashana Cauley is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. Her writing has also appeared in The Atlantic, Buzzfeed, Esquire, The New Yorker,  Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. She is a former staff writer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Kashana is speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show on May 22nd, themed No Man’s Land, alongside Lauren Hilgers,… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Lauren Hilgers

Lauren Hilgers is a journalist whose articles have appeared in Harper’s, Wired, Businessweek, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine. Her new book is Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown. Lauren is speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining show on May 22nd, themed No Man’s Land, alongside Caroline Weber and Meg Wolitzer. We spoke to… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart is the author of the New York Times-bestselling We Were Liars, which has been published in 33 countries. She is also the author of the National Book Award finalist The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and the New York Times-bestselling novel Genuine Fraud, which Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner are adapting for their… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Åsne Seierstad

  Åsne Seierstad is an award-winning Norwegian journalist and writer known for her work as a war correspondent. She is the author of The Bookseller of Kabul, One Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal, Angel of Grozny: Inside Chechnya, One of Us, and her new book Two Sisters: A Father, His Daughters, and Their Journey… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…David Enrich

David Enrich is the Gerald Loeb Award-winning Finance Editor of The New York Times. He previously was Financial Enterprise Editor of The Wall Street Journal, heading an elite investigative unit at the paper. Enrich is the author of The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One… Continue Reading

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