This is the first part of a two-part interview
Warning: If you are appalled by talk about puppet sex, foul language or the kind of person who thinks the existence of South Park is one of the signs that the world is coming to an end then you'd be wise to skip this interview. Don't say I have not warned you.
Glasgow Phillips has written a memoir quite like anything I have read before. I could try to summarize my thoughts but better, I think to just share the interview and let you draw your own conclusions. I’ll write more about the book with the second part of the interview.
This is a guy who... well, here is how Publisher's Weekly delicately handles mention of one of his projects: "His signature opus: The Sound of One Hand Clapping, starring Phillips as a Shaolin monk who defeats ninjas with his genitals."
And, no, it's not currently available for viewing on YouTube.
Scott Butki: Glasgow, your book was cracking me up before I even hit the first chapter. It’s not often that an author’s note makes me laugh. In that regard this reminded me of Dave Eggers’ memoir, which also had a quite memorable author’s note. I want to start by asking about your unusual title page, author’s note and preface.Who wrote the title page? Why was it decided to summarize the book on the title page? I’m going to excerpt it for the interview:
The Royal Nonesuch: In which the author, a failure at literature, fails likewise at pornography; founds a corporate branding consultancy and a New Media Empire; impersonates the antichrist; plays nursemaid to a homeless street performer in a bear suit; battles oblivion and the Big She; and attempts to answer the one great question that troubles his generation: What will I do when I grow up?
Anything you want to add to this excerpt?
Glasgow: Nothing to add, sir. That pretty much sums up the book’s contents. I wrote the first pass of it, and my editor Jamison Stoltz at Grove helped shape it. The reason we did it was that I was having a hard time with the basic question, “What’s it about?” That long and arguably precious summary was the best I could do.
Scott: The author’s note is remarkable both for its frankness about the subject matter and the possibility that you may have gotten some things wrong.
Most of the characters in this book are my friends. They have been incredibly generous in allowing me to use their names and tell stories about our adventures together. Even so, I’d like to emphasize at the front that this account is one person’s subjective version of what happened, acknowledge that not everyone agrees with all of it, and request that the reader give equal credence to any other versions of the same events. With regard to the facts, I do think I got most of them right, but I wouldn’t advise using this book for anything other than amusement.
Would you recommend other memoirists use language such as this - future versions of James Frey and Augusten Burroughs who might get carried away?