Alex Gilvarry, who grew up on Staten Island, studied in the Hunter MFA program and recently moved to Cambridge, Mass after having lived in Williamsburg, reads from his first novel, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene tomorrow night.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
“It sounds like Zoolander.” When I finished my novel, I did notice that it shared some similarities to the Ben Stiller movie Zoolander. Both send up the fashion industry in New York, poke fun at beautiful people, and dabble in terrorist-related activities. So the statement is accurate, but I think my hero directly addresses the severity of indefinite detention, or imprisonment without due process, where as Derek Zoolander was just really really good looking.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
Saw Maurizio Cattelan’s All exhibit at the Guggenheim and I’ll never look at that space the same again. Nathan Englander’s forthcoming story collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank is incredible. And I recently had the ricotta pancakes at Five Leaves in Greenpoint. They’re the best pancakes I’ve ever had, hands down. If you get anything else for breakfast there you’re making a grave mistake. I recommend reading the Englander or the Cattelan app over the pancakes, that’s what I do.
Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
Tom Cruise. I once wrote a short story in college called “Tom Cruise” where I imagined what his daily life would be like. It got pretty extravagant. So I’d like to see what it’s really like, or what he’d like us to think it’s really like.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
I did my version of it. But since I had good credit and could always manage to get a credit card, I knew I would never go hungry. I maintained a healthy weight throughout the three years of writing my novel.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
Someone once said to me after a reading, “Can I give you some advice?” followed by a round of editorial comments on what I just read. My ideal interaction is any instance where this doesn’t happen. Writers are fragile creatures, nurture them with praise, then buy them a drink.
Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
Yes. See my answer to question 3 on Tom Cruise.