Does being on a podcast make me a pod person?
I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Dallas-area podcaster Mark David Noble last week. We agreed to meet over lunch, and I was a little surprised when I saw that he had brought along equipment that looked as if it had just wandered off of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru’s farm.
But I was immediately put at ease when I saw that one of the beverages served by this establishment was known as a Rebel Alliance.
The interview is posted here. Mark has done a neat trick where you can listen to the Soundcloud file while staring at a photo of me. So you can hear my voice without seeing my lips move. Most people dream of the world where the opposite happens, but I think it makes me look like the galaxy’s greatest ventriloquist.
Right off the bat, he asked an excellent question -- one I can’t believe I have never been asked before, and one I was stunned to not have a ready answer to. The question was: “What’s the first book you remember buying with your own money?”
You can listen to me talk my way around an answer, but the truth is, I can’t pin it down. I remember my first album, my first 45 (which, if you are the age of the characters in “Revenge of the Star Survivors,” I might need to explain later, but it was a thing), my first video games, and the first time I went clothes shopping on my own and bought a very ill-advised pair of white Levi’s … but that first book escapes me.
But if I don’t remember the specific title, I remember the general feeling. And it was almost indescribably wonderful.
My usual currency would be a B. Dalton Bookseller gift certificate. They were paper certificates back then -- and in my mind, the paper was heavy, like parchment or a stock certificate or the Constitution or the Gutenberg Bible. I would get certificates for my birthday or Christmas (thanks, family members who loved me) and hoard them as long as I could stand it. And then, finally, I would get my mom to take me to the mall (which was across a lake and practically another universe, even though it took probably less than half an hour to get there) and I would stare at the shelves, agonizing over my choices.
A $10 certificate could probably three or four paperbacks. I still own some of them -- well-known books such as “How to Eat Fried Worms,” “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” and of course, “A Wrinkle in Time,” but also some lesser-knowns, such as “The Midnight Fox” by Betsy Byars and “The Strange But Wonderful Cosmic Awareness of Duffy Moon,” by Jean Robinson.
Also, as I mentioned in my interview, a lot of Hardy Boys books. And “The Great Brain,” series by John D. Fitzgerald. (I’m not sure how well those hold up -- as I recall, the plot of one involves a boy rendered mute by trauma; the hero of the books, an otherwise nice kid who has a brother who is basically a con artist, gets the mute boy to grieve by spanking him until he cries. Which is hailed as a brilliant move by the adults. I am not sure that would pass as recommended therapy these days, so if you are not an adult, ask a librarian for advice before you check this one out. Also, don’t spank someone rendered mute by trauma. Seriously.)
It would take a lot of effort not to start reading in the car on the way home. But no matter when I started, they rarely stayed unused more than a day: In the summertime, I could stay up pretty much as late as I wanted reading them. And re-reading them. And then reading them again. Because that is what you do with books when you are in love with them.
In the interview, Mark asked me what I liked about the titles I mentioned. And again, you can hear me have to talk my way around an answer. Because sometimes, asking why you like a book is like asking why you like air: You don’t really know. It’s just always been there, and you can’t imagine life without it.
Anyhow, it was a fun lunch, and I hope you enjoy the interview.