NOAH CICERO, NEW BOOK, WHITENESS, PAVLIK, HUNGER, SELLING-OUT
the way i found writing on the internet was noah cicero. he was the first person i read, who was what people call “an internet writer.” i still think that he has written some of my favorite things. he is working on a new book, called Best Behavior. noah was a trill a$$ blood and he answered some of my questions. we talk about the new book, how to murder an elderly person with a snap bracelet and youngstown ohio, let’s see, uh also The Human War.
(interview after break)
HTMLGIANT: noah cicero–you, boom boom mancini, and kelly pavlik all hail from youngstown, ohio. what is it that makes mahfackahs so mean there?
NOAH CICERO: I still haven’t eaten today. I’ve drank coffee and smoked a lot of cigarettes but have not ate yet. Hemingway in a Movable Feast talked about writing hungry. I like to write hungry. I also like to turn the heat down in my house and put on a stocking cap and pull my hoody over my head and write like that, with my hands all cold and shit. That’s how I’m behaving now.
reasons Youngstown makes people mean.
1. It is nowhere. Nobody cares about Youngstown. The steel mills collapsed in 1977 and we didn’t get a bailout or a stimulus or anything. The government said to us, “You don’t matter.” Getting told you don’t matter really fucking pisses a person off. I mean seriously, it really fucking hurts not to matter.
2. I’ve never seen the real steel mills in operation but I’m assuming working your balls off in a 130 degree building all day makes a person pretty pissed off. And those pissed off people were our grandparents which raised our parents, which raised us.
3. The Youngstown area has two main ethnic groups, the Italians and Sicilians escaping Mussolini and his fascist clusterfuck, and italians are generally a pissed off people. And the other group is Georgian blacks who escaped Jim Crow, who were obviously pissed off people.
4. Jean Paul Sartre wrote a section on boxers in The Critique of Dialectial Reason Volume 2. In it he said that boxers hate their social class, have an inferiority complex, and want to get raised a class by boxing. Boom Boom went to California though and left us, but Kelly Pavlik is obsessed with his encumbered self and has become a Sandelian Communitarian who believes very strongly in community and take part in the lives of Youngstown citizens. His image is plastered in every restaurant, gas station, doors of houses, on giant street signs selling local crap, you can’t go anywhere without seeing his face. If he wanted to run for mayor in ten years I have no doubt he would he would win.
HTMLGIANT: THE HUMAN WAR was the first book of yours i read. having written many books since then, what are you thoughts about that book now?
NOAH CICERO: I don’t write or think like that anymore. I feel kind of bad because I wrote three more little books since that one, and none of them had the power of that one. Probably because they didn’t have a sweet topic thing above it like Iraq War. Which didn’t occur to me at the time that, that was going to be so important. The Insurgent coming out in December will better than The Human War and the other books I’ve written. But it still won’t have that sweet Topic Line Iraq War. I just wrote the book in my bedroom. I had an experience, felt emotional, and wrote about it. Not all emotional experiences are created equal though.
HTMLGIANT: when you are at a waffle house, if you don’t know the waitress by her first name, what do you call her? (i start with “ma’am” and then when i know her i go with “baby” (but only if she intiates with “sweety” (“honey” works too i guess)))
NOAH CICERO: I say hello and ask them their name. I’m always very personal with the waffle house servers. I always them if they have kids, what they do for fun, if they have any hobbies, where they’re from. They are usually lonely at night and will talk to me.
HTMLGIANT: noah, the fans want to know, can you tell us a little about the next book you are working on? you said you are selling out, can you explain that? what happens when kids with red mohawks wearing EXPLOITED t-shirts spit on you at readings?
NOAH CICERO: I’m working on Best Behavior. I signed an agreement with an agent to write it. I thought the other day I wanted to change the name to “This too shall pass” but then I realized I signed an agreement that states the book will be called Best Behavior. Which means I have to produce a book called “Best Behavior.” Best Behavior is an ironic title, many pop books have ironic titles. People love ironic titles. It come from, now i don’t know if people do it all over America. But parents here, when you are little and you are going to a wedding reception or maybe a graduation party. Your parents grab your shoulder tightly in the car, look at your face and say, “Now you better be on you best behavior.”
The book will be about a person in Youngstown, who spends two days in Youngstown and then travels by greyhound to NYC and gets to witness really great behavior of the age group of 25 to 35 in America.
I’m saying I’m selling out because the book has a plot, it flows along, there are flashbacks, there is no weird shit. I mean, I’m writing it, so it will be weird. But I’m not writing lines like, “My days are awesome” or “I love you so much my balls hurt.” Lines like that will not appear. It will not be like this book THE DEAD CHILD LIES HIDDEN IN THE FLOWERS http://noah-cicero.blogspot.com/2007/10/dead-child-lies-hidden-in-flowers.html. I enjoyed writing that, I like rereading it more than anything I’ve written. In 2897 it will be more my most often read book. But no one wants to give me money for that.
Last year I got some money for writing and I really enjoyed purchasing things with the money I from the book. So I got an agent and decided to write a readable book. Now what I mean by writing a pop book, is that before I wrote books for people who read, for people who read two to three books regularly, consider reading more than just something one does to pass time. But considers the art of literature as an experience. That one can experience a book, like one experiences going to an amusement park, working at a job, having a romantic relationship, something a person lives through, and has gained something from. I don’t consider it holy or anything, just an experience. But I’m writing this with the intention of people reading who might only read four books a year. And they only read books that people tell them to read. But I want my book to be one of those four books. If they read only four books next year, I want one of them to be Best Behavior.
Now, if Best Behavior turns out to be shit and doesn’t sell anything. Well, I’m an ass for writing for that.
HTMLGIANT: write out your average day in three sentences.
NOAH CICERO: Checking gmail. Someone telling me they want to die. Laying down.
HTMLGIANT: why is NATIVE SON the shit?
NOAH CICERO: because all the characters in it are frail tragicomic figures. That white lady he kills, makes him take her to bars to feel oneness with the blacks even though she is a rich white lady. And what Wright was saying was with that, “She doesn’t even know anything about being white, and she wants to try to be black.” Bigger is so horribly confused the whole time. The whole white world is crashing down on him and he doesn’t have a fucking clue what is going on. I mean right now, I sit and watch the stocks channel and everyone is losing their job, and everyone except those rich white people feel, “Goddamn the whole white world is crashing down on me. I’m fucking confused.”
Wright and Yates, I like them most out of American writers because everyone is so confused and bewildered about life. Everyone is lying to themselves, playing some sort of deranged game. And they carry the lies out till death. And people can do that and do it all the time. There are people that tell themselves insane fucking lies, from birth to death, without any attempt ending the lie.
You can still find Bigger, there are like several thousand Biggers still living in Youngstown. They’re poor, didn’t graduate high school, and get pulled over by the cops. Last night I was with a black girl who is 25 and we went to a hick bar down the street from my house. Now I knew I’ve only seen white people in there. But I didn’t think they would care if we stopped in to get a drink. But we go in there and she’s obviously at least 23 and they wouldn’t serve her without an ID. They were looking for a reason to get her out and they got it.
HTMLGIANT: follow up, if you were taking richard wright on a date, where would you go and what would you do? would you let him kiss you?
NOAH CICERO: Richard Wright was a big guy. I think he would have his way with me. I would bend over my kitchen table and he would ass fuck me until I bled.