SpeakEasy Blog

Seriously Questioning…Joel Rose

Joel Rose was was co-founder and editor of the legendary and influential Lower East Side literary magazine Between C and D, published in the 1980s. He is also the author of the novels Kill the Poor and Kill Kill Faster Faster, both of which have been made into feature films. His other books include The Blackest Bird, New York Sawed in Half, and the bestselling graphic novel, co-written with Anthony Bourdain, Get Jiro!. His and Bourdain’s new graphic novel, Hungry Ghosts, is out in October.

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

What is your earliest memory involving reading or writing?

My mother was sick my whole life. I went to college as a pre-med. Our family doctor told me repeatedly one day, with an education, I would cure my mother. The first day we were asked to write an essay. I wrote about being four years old and wearing a cowboy outfit on the street. The neighborhood kids beat me up. When I went home crying my mother took me outside and told the kids I was too a real cowboy, because I was born in the west. (Los Angeles – my parents were both from the east coast, my mother the Lower East Side, my father from Scranton, PA). My mother hated LA and they came back when I was one year old. This is what I wrote about. The next thing I knew I get a call from the head of the English Department, Otto Schoen-Rene. He invited me to his house, took me into his study, put a copy of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in my hand. He said you feel this? You feel the heft? This is a novel. I think you can write novels. That was it for me. My father was a waiter, he never went to third grade, my mother worked in a shop, she had graduated high school. I had never met anyone like that. From that day on I thought of myself as a writer.

What is your favorite line from your current work?

Gatchi-gatchi-gatchi! The noise of the starving skeleton’s rattling bones (first story).

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Keep your head down. Have faith in yourself. Work.

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

Anthony Bourdain

What writer do you wish you could share with the world?

John Trotta

What are you reading right now?

Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory.

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you?

Of late the quote I’m walking around with is from Ezra Pound: “I have always thought the suicide should bump off one swine before taking off for parts unknown.”

Seriously Questioning…Laura Spinney

Laura Spinney is an author and science journalist. She has published two novels in English, The Doctor and The Quick. Her third book of non-fiction, Rue Centrale, came out in 2013 from Editions L’Age d’Homme (in French and in English), and her fourth, a tale of the Spanish flu called Pale Rider, came out in 2017.  She also writes on science for National Geographic, The Economist, Nature, New Scientist and The… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Gregory Pardlo

Gregory Pardlo’s ​collection​ Digest won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His other honors​ include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review. Air Traffic, a memoir in essays, was released by Knopf in… Continue Reading

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… Continue Reading

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

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