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10 questions for David Gilbert

Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. The Bryant Park Reading Room offers free copies of book club selections while supply lasts, compliments of Oxford University Press, and guest speakers lead the group in discussion. On Tuesday 27 August 2013, writer David Gilbert leads a discussion on Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis.

What was your inspiration for this book? (His new novel & Sons)

My father and my son.

Photo by Susie Gilbert
Photo by Susie Gilbert

Where do you do your best writing?

In my office, late at night, wishing I still smoked.

Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?

Harper Lee.

What is your secret talent?

I can stand on my head.

What is your favorite book?

Some days it’s Lolita, other days, Pale Fire.

Who reads your first draft?

A poor unlucky soul who lives in my basement.

Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand?

Computer. But I do my most inspired writing on Post-Its.

What book are you currently reading? (Old school or e-Reader?)

Old school (not the book), Speedboat by Renata Adler.

What word or punctuation mark are you most guilty of overusing?

I hate the word off. It is an unreasonable hate. And I think the letter k is kind of a jerk. I overuse vague qualifiers, like sort of and kind of (see above). I wish I used exclamation points more but that’s a young man’s game.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

A first-grade homeroom teacher.

Did you have an “a-ha!” moment that made you want to be a writer?

Yes. Unfortunately it was while watching Hardcastle and McCormick on TV, which is a Stephen J. Cannell production (he of the ripping another perfect page from the typewriter, the sheet flying elegantly through the air, passing various awards and diplomas). Ruined me.

Do you read your books after they’ve been published?

No way (the thought alone just made me throw up a little).

David Gilbert is the author of the story collection Remote Feed and the novels The Normals and & Sons. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, GQ, and Bomb. He lives in New York with his wife and three children.

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