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8 Questions With Author David Zweig

True confessions: I always really dig books in which the main characters are even more neurotic and fucked up than I am--and yeah, I don't really come across many. And so for that reason (plus a shitload of others), I seriously dug David Zweig's new book: Swimming Inside the Sun.

Here are some reasons I think you might dig this book too:

  • It's really well written...and darkly humorous.
  • You've probably met the main character, Dan Green, at some Williamsburg loft party before--he's a wannabe hipster (who claims he hates hipsters), wasting away his life (and his record deal) in some sham of an effort to stay true to himself and true to his music. Except he has no clue who "he" even is.
    So yeah, you know how you've wondered to yourself if that Dan Green-like dude at the Williamsburg loft party is really as weird as you think he is, or whether or not he's just had too many Six Point ales that night and isn't thinking straight? Well, he's totally *that* fucking weird--and its fun to see what that actually looks like (think: walls covered with post-it notes and rice milk/soy milk monthly rotation calendars).
  • Mental illness. Oh so you got yourself a Wellbutrin scrip and now you fancy yourself an expert on brain disorders?? Try this one on for size: depersonalization. That's when you are so completely disconnected from yourself and what's going on in your own world, you start to acutally see yourself in the third person--kinda like Smartmom, I guess?
  • Eventhough Dan is mostly a douche, you'll still totally root for him.

I tracked down author David Zweig to get his take on the book, living in the BK and dealing with the (sometimes) suckitude of being a writer:

1. What is your book about?
A musician who is on the verge of success and then gets dropped by his record label and subsequently falls into an "epic funk" as one review said, which is a better description than I could have come up with. We follow him over the course of a year as he tries to climb his way out of his funk. This entails, in part, having sex with a lot of girls.  

2. What role does BK play in your story?  

I think Brooklyn represents change. The lead character lives in the East Village (circa 2002) and much of the book takes place in Manhattan, but several key scenes take place in Brooklyn. I don't want to give too much away, but this is where he is happiest. A lot of the book is about his love for New York and, to a degree, his sadness over how it was changing/how he was changing. He saw Brooklyn as the future, in a way.

3. The lead character in your story is a neurotic, slightly insane dude named Dan. True your name is Dave, but I'm wondering if you are a neurotic, slightly insane person yourself?

4. Did you ever think while writing your book: "holy the fuck am I going to finish this book?" Did you enjoy writing it, or did it kind of suck?

During every long-term project I work on I always fear "how the fuck am I going to finish" this. I felt the same way when I was recording both my albums. I think it's that fear that keeps me going to make sure I actually do finish. If I didn't have that anxiety I don't think I'd get anything done. Writing itself is 90% torture, 10% triumph.  



6. Do you live in Brooklyn? What do you love about it and what do you hate about it?
Yup - Prospect Heights. I really, really love my neighborhood. My wife and I used to live in Brooklyn Heights, and it was ok, but a lot of stuff about that neighborhood just wasn't the right fit for us. Now I run in the park, and cannot imagine ever living in Brooklyn and not being able to do that. I also feel so fortunate that we have a ton of great restaurants within a five or ten minute walk of our place, including a great slice joint on Flatbush. I also enjoy the mix of people in the neighborhood. My building alone I think has a different race or religion represented on each floor. Hate? Same thing as everyone else - too expensive!

7. Are you a member of the Food Coop? If so, we want some dirt.

I went to the orientation but didn't feel compelled to join. I'm a fan of Fairway if we're there on off hours, otherwise it's miserable. (I almost came to blows with a guy in the checkout line once. Thank God our carts - and wives - were between us. He was huge.) We have a seven-month old baby, so Fresh Direct makes life easier these days. Though I feel guilty about the eco impact of the trucks, boxes, etc.  

8. Who are some of your fave Brooklynites?
I can't say I have a favorite Broolynite, but I have a favorite Brooklynite story: Years ago I was on a big Paul Auster kick. And I was always mesmerized by his book jacket photos. He looked so mysterious and dark, like he was from another era. I wondered, "He can't look like that in real life! No one does." Around 2000 I was in Park Slope and saw him and he actually was that black and white photograph walking around in real life. Some people are just that cool.

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