Brad Listi, Attention. Deficit. Disorder.
Seems like I can't go on any Myspace page without seeing Brad Listi listed as a 'friend'. For the longest time, I would see his name everywhere and his frequent bulletins announcing a new blog were showing up like clockwork, every single day. Who was this guy that was all over the place?
I decided to check him out and found that he wrote a book called, Attention.Deficit.Disorder. His blog is updated all the time hence the frequent bulletins heralding a new entry. Brad is one of the most popular Myspace members around and his book was a Los Angeles Times bestseller and has garnered rave reviews from readers of all ages.
I have to admit, I rarely have an interest in novels that guys write. I suppose I expect books written by men to be about things like sports, beer, military espionage and science fictiony topics like flying saucers and robotic women.
Attention.Deficit.Disorder. was a great book with no sports themes or weird sci-fi stuff. It's about a guy named Wayne whose ex-girlfriend commits suicide. He learns that while they were dating, she was pregnant with his baby and had an abortion. When she dies, he begins to question everything about himself, the girlfriend, life in general. He embarks on a journey that takes him to Cuba among other places, and culminates at the Burning Man Festival.
Peppered throughout the book are random factoids so really you get a novel and a study guide for Jeopardy rolled into one handy book. Attention.Deficit.Disorder. is a quick, often humorous, entertaining read. Now I find myself seeking out those bulletins for Brad's blog so I can read along with everyone else.
What did you do today?
I got up early and went out and got my fiancee some coffee from Starbucks. A venti iced non-fat latte. That’s her thing. She has a big day at work today and needed to be outrageously caffeinated in order to deal with the logistical hoopla that was waiting for her.
After that, I drove over to this juice place that I always go to and got a juice, freshly-squeezed. An odd concoction. Vegetable juices mixed with frozen bananas. I’m convinced it’s gonna make me live to 115. And the guy who works there is a character. This morning we were talking about the pros and cons of home-schooling for some reason. He’s adamantly against it. Says that it fucks up a child’s social function. I’m mostly in agreement with him, but I do think that it’s possible for home-schooling to be reasonably effective, but only if the parent is an incredibly bright and talented teacher, and the child is given proper social outlets elsewhere.
Then, after that, I came home and started work. I wrote a blog this morning about going to a local Barnes & Noble last night. My fiancee hand-sold a copy of my novel to Norm MacDonald of Saturday Night Live fame. He happened to be in the store at the time, and he was trying to buy a painting off of the wall. A silkscreen of the Of Mice & Men cover. Kind of odd. He appeared to be incredibly baked. And he was incredibly friendly and unpretentious. I signed a copy of the novel for him, and he bought it right then and there.
What were you like in highschool?
Nervous. And woefully under-sexed. I was a pretty good student all throughout my youth, until about the middle of my junior year. Then I got tired and said to hell with it. I flunked a couple of classes my senior year. My parents were distraught. And one of my teachers offered to throw a cupcake party for the class if I passed my test. But I failed. Miserably. And for some reason I was happy about it.
I had clear braces my freshman and sophomore year. And I had a big crush on one girl throughout most of high school. But she didn’t realize that she liked me until the night before I left town to go to college.
How have you changed in the last ten years?
Well, I’ve gotten older, for one thing. I’m 31 now. Going on 32. And I’m engaged to a lovely woman and am generally pretty content.
But really, I imagine I’m pretty much the same person, essentially speaking. Not all that much different from who I was at 16. Most of the changes I’ve made are probably cosmetic or peripheral.
That said, hopefully I’ve gotten a little wiser through the years. Hopefully I’m a better writer. Hopefully my sense of humor is a little bit stronger, a little bit more indestructible. One of my main goals in life is to make sure that I don’t lose track of my sense of humor at the hour of my death. I’m thinking it’s probably harder than it sounds. I’m training for that one.
Do you get nervous doing book readings?
I get a little nervous, sure. But I don’t go into a state of paralysis or anything. I teach college, so I have a lot of experience with speaking in front of crowds. It’s not something that bothers me all that much. You get used to it.
How do you choose what passages to read from?
Depends on the crowd. Usually I try to read stuff that will play well live—stuff with good dialogue, good humor, and so on. And then other times, I’ll read stuff that’s really heavy, emotionally speaking. Funeral passages. Naked introspection.
I try to read the crowd a bit before deciding. I try to feel the temperature in the room.
If the people are drunk, I usually read a passage from the Uncle Brian section, wherein a mentally disabled Cajun man has a panic attack while spelunking.
I’m scared of rodents and going to the dentist. What scares you?
I don’t like bees much, because I was swarmed by a hive of angry yellow jackets as a child.
And I’m scared of bad things happening to people I love.
And generally speaking, I tend to be scared of being devoured by a large predator. A large jungle cat, for instance. Or a shark. That would probably scare the ever-living shit outta me. At the same time, I’d probably experience such a profound level of physical shock if such a thing were to occur that the pain would be minimal, as would the fear.
So in the end, I guess there’s really not much to be afraid of. It’s only life and life only.
What surprised you most during the publishing process?
I think what surprised me the most is how much work one has to do after the book comes out. As a writer, you imagine that all of your work will be over on publication day, and you’ll get to sit back and watch the magic unfold. But the truth, nine times out of ten, is that the work is just beginning. Publication day, like so many other days, is a false summit. It never really ends. You just keep going. Until you stop.
Do you think you could write a book from a woman’s point of view?
Yeah, I do for some reason. Maybe that’s hubris, but I do. I was raised in a house dominated by women. And my mom comes from a family of seven girls and two boys. And I genuinely adore women. I tend to get along with them. I’ve always felt comfortable around them (except when I was in high school and trying to get them to fondle me), and I’ve always had lots of women friends.
So I’m hopeful that I could write fiction from a female POV in a way that feels authentic.
What kind of music do you listen to?
I’ll listen to anything. When I work, I usually listen to various kinds of instrumental or ambient music. Jazz. Classical. Ocean sounds. Pan flute. Xylophone. Lounge. Techno. Whatever. And then aside from that, I’ve got pretty wide-ranging taste. I like what sounds good at the time when I hear it. And I like what I’m in the mood for, whatever that may be at a given time.
Ever go one day without writing? You update the blog all the time.
Once in a blue moon. But really, I enjoy what I do. I like to do it. It’s fun. It isn’t a hassle for me. I actually prefer to work.
It’s can be challenging, sure, but I feel pretty fortunate to be able to do it for a living. There are worse ways to pay the rent. I feel like I got a lucky hand.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
Or else I’d be a monk.
Or a bongo player.
Or a farmer.
I have a farming fantasy that I’ve been nursing for years. I want to one day own a big plot of land, and I want to have a menagerie of barnyard animals that I will keep as pets. I will frolic with them. It will be spectacular.