I recently came across this interview with John Hodgman for Media Bistro.
I’m a big fan of Hodgman. He went to school in the Boston area (as I did, although not at the same school and with only perhaps a year overlap, time-wise). He writes really funny yet introspective stuff. He appears frequently on This American Life. He is the host of the Little Gray Book Lecture Series in NYC.
And if you’re not familiar with John Hodgman, here are a few more links to help you get acquainted.
You can find Real Audio of his This American Life segments on the website. Do a search for his name to get a list, and enjoy this expression from his piece on being Bruce Campbell’s literary agent: “It was time to bring the Pope over to cat-sit.”
For Transom, he hosted a discussion topic for a week. An excerpt:
Where television luridly reveals everything, radio is coy; radio conceals its sources. It is a voice behind a curtain, and you must provide the face. Or, if you do not keep your radio behind a curtain, as I do, you can imagine it as voices in the next room. This is what makes radio so powerfully consoling to the lonely–it creates the illusion of company in a way that few other media can. Public radio is particularly adept at creating this illusion of companionship, in part because they do not advertise (pledge drives don’t spoil the illusion–while it would be unusual for a friend to suddenly start yelling at you from the next room about the low financing on this year’s Toyotas, it is almost expected that he will occasionally ask you for money over and over, for days on end), and because of the close and uncanny naturalness of its voices.
For McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Hodgman wrote a series of Q&As, Ask a Former Professional Literary Agent. Here’s a sample:
Josh: My life experiences, thoughts and opinions are remarkably similar to many others who publish. Should this unoriginality discourage me from writing?
JKH, FPLA: It is axiomatic that every good novel is written twice, and every bad novel is written over and over again. Having the same voice, style, and background as another writer will never hurt you, but it is more important to have the same voice, style, and background as your editor. That is why novels which feature as characters well-heeled college graduates with no marketable skills who perhaps wanted to be writers once but now are publishing professionals living in New York will always be published. Always. Also: be sure to include a rousing gardening scene
Josh: When do I get to go to the cocktail party with clever, uninhibited women and chummy, eccentric men who admire and respect me?
JKH, FPLA: If by “chummy” you mean smelling of shark bait, then this can be arranged immediately. Otherwise, I’m sure I don’t know what you’re referring to, and please don’t ask me about this again.