This is Antonio Monda. You probably know Antonio Monda as the guy who asks “What would be the scientific porpoise of keeling it?” at the beginning of The Life Aquatic. Or as the NYU film professor, Fellini scholar, and frequent co-curator of Film Forum retrospectives of key Italian filmmakers.Or possibly as the subject of that essay from this summer’s Times Book Review describing how many famous people and cultural figures he knows. (He’s “arguably the most well-connected New York cultural figure you’ve never heard of.”) It is via his acquaintances with literally every single person in the world you’d go out of your way to get to know if you could, that he’s written a book called Do You Believe: Conversations on God and Religion, which is basically a series of late-night dorm room conversations with a bunch of people whose opinions on spiritual matters must be interesting to us because they’re famous, like Salman Rushdie and Spike Lee. (Whether he knows it or not, Monda stole the idea for this book from The Onion AV Club. Their version is much pithier, wither lower-brow subjects, and is an ideal workplace procrastination aide.)
And tonight, Monda will be at Cooper Union with several of the people he interviewed: Paul Auster, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Nathan Englander. Of course.
Actually, Monda interviewed me for the book, too, but I guess the interview didn’t make the cut for the book, it was a pretty short conversation. Basically, he said, “Say, man, you believe in God?” and I said, “No, man,” and he said, “It’d be a lot cooler if you did.” I think Auster and Safran Foer will probably have more to say on the subject, though.