October 7th, 2009 Kate Williams | Special Section Stories
 

Rob Wilder

     
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You Should Really Read: Daddy Needs a Drink

Rob Wilder has held more jobs than anyone you know. He’s been a gas station attendant, dishwasher, factory worker, landscape grunt, grass cutter, lackey, busboy, waiter, concession stand clerk, housepainter, soccer camp director, dog show researcher, fundraiser and an advertising executive. He’s also written some pretty hilarious books about drinking and hanging out in the teachers’ lounge. They’re so hilarious, in fact, that a few Hollywood hotshots have considered turning his books into TV shows. No word yet from the networks. 5 pm Saturday Oct. 10. Mountain Writers Stage.

What’s your personal writing ritual?

I arrive at the high school where I teach between 5 and 6 am, tape a piece of copy paper over the window in the door (to hide from the kids who can’t find the detention room) and get humming, literally. I hum like a hive of bees as I write. Low-level Tourette’s, or so I’ve been told.

What are your favorite themes to write about (or that you’re most guilty of rehashing)?

Lazy fathers, overbearing mothers, Dom DeLuise, foul-mouthed children, gourmet margaritas, meat mallets.

The most beautiful word in the English language is: Spork.

What authors made you want to pick up a pen in the first place, and why?

The Stories of John Cheever helped me understand why I felt so out of place growing up in the Connecticut suburbs and demanded that I write about it.

Fight Club time: If you could fight one author (or critic), who would it be and why?

Neal Pollack. The reasons should be so obvious.

Name a book you think is highly overrated. Be honest.

Pat the Bunny.

Dream project:

Finish the novel I’m working on before my daughter goes on her first date.

Most recent nightmare:

Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida wanted to adopt me, but they said I smelled sour and changed their minds.

Your cure for writer’s block:

A few hours trying to teach teenagers to love As I Lay Dying.

Pessimistic question: Will you keep writing even after people stop reading?

Of course. I want to go out with my boots on.

Cautiously optimistic question: Obama? Discuss.

If someone makes a “you lie” joke for this one, I might weep.

Share one thing you’ve had to change in your everyday life thanks to our current recession.

We stopped combing and cutting my son London’s hair, so we now have a white boy with dreads.

Please paste a short paragraph from a story you’re currently working on:

“I slinked back to the cramped English office where I wait at the end of the day for my daughter Poppy (and her rolling backpack) to finish her eighth grade classes so we can drive home together. I had a few minutes and felt low, so I emailed my friend Chris who lives in a totally unrelated city (New York) and works in a totally unrelated profession (talent management). In my missive, I complained about my last period, how they didn’t respond to my pleas or tell me what they wanted to learn. In terms of emotion, my note was frighteningly close to that creepy guy on YouTube who begged us all to ‘Leave Britney Spears alone.’

“Chris’ reply arrived only a few minutes later. Here it is unedited: ‘I’m not sure I’d have a good answer to “What do you want to learn?” In high school I definitely would have said, “How to make a bong out of an apple.” Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever learned that, so maybe it’s my 2009 answer also.’”

 
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