Currently showing posts tagged Jim Carroll

  • "Tanzer wants to eat the world." A quite grand Be Cool review from a quite grand writer I quite love.

    That's a lot of quite, grand and Be Cool, but it is all so very appreciated. Excerpt? Word.

    "This is a beautiful and honest book about what it means to be alive in the 21st century, to be a sentient being, to be a son and husband and father, to be a boyfriend, to be a drinker, to be a runner, to be an artist, and to be a fuck-up, a fuck-up which is how most of us do not identify but how all of us should. To be alive is to be a fuck-up. Anything else is a lie. Ben Tanzer knows that. Desire, which is what Tanzer means when he says be cool, is everything and it’s a motherfucker. Like his early literary hero, Jim Carroll—who he writes about here wonderfully—and eternal beatnik, Jack Kerouac, Ben Tanzer is on a quest to find out what it means to be on a quest. Unlike Carroll and Kerouac, Tanzer is as close as it gets to being enlightened. No bullshit. No God. No use pretending the world isn’t a total mess."

  • Most appreciative I am talking Be Cool, SEX AND DEATH, The Basketball Diaries and Natasha Kinski with The Rumpus.

    I am talking and I am interview and I am Be Cool and SEX AND DEATH and The Basketball Diaries and I truly am thankful for The Rumpus and the quite awesome Gina Prescott for making it so. Excerpt? Word.

    Rumpus: Okay, let’s get into the questions I have actually prepared. My first is broad, and I think it’s fun. What is your personal, down and dirty, definition of cool or coolness? Feel free to provide examples to elucidate your point—cool things, cool people.

    Tanzer: That’s a good, fun question. I think the definition—or the version—I’ve spent much of my life striving for—and it’s embarrassing to think about, but fun to write about—is this sense that the choices you’re making, the things that are important to you, the way you want to live or could live, are things that are recognized by the public as things that seem cool.

    I’ve always been interested what I’ve been interested in, but I’ve also been interested in being cool, for sure. I feel like as a young adult, I moved away from a lot of what I loved. Consciously, I didn’t think they were cool enough, and I tried to figure out what was cool. Now, I think the important part is that the people you intersect with see you as cool. That’s my personal definition. I think the definition is really the ability to be in your own skin wherever you are and trust and know that whatever version that is that you are living and breathing it and you are unbothered whether people are reacting to it. And that’s what I have tried to do as I’ve gotten older. I’m very fanboy about things that I get excited about. I’m not able to be cool about it. For long time, I suppressed that as an adult, and I decided to drop it. If I’m excited about something, I let myself be excited about it. It’s very freeing. So I think a part of being cool to me when I was younger, was trying to figure what people respond to in a way that gives you a sense of adulation. And now I think being cool is understanding what you love or makes you feel good and embracing it, regardless of how you think people come to it. How’s that?

  • Quite self-absorbedly geeked to let you know about The TNB Self-Interview I did for Be Cool.

    So please do check it out here. Or even here. Cool? Cool. And excerpt? Most definitely.


    Thank you. I’m thrilled to be here, and I appreciate the chance to talk with you about my new essay collection Be Cool—a memoir (sort of) from Dock Street press.


    Well, great, congratulations, truly, should we get right into the questions?

    Yes, of course, soft ball questions, right, I hope.


    Yeah, sure, anyway, so, navel-gazing…?



    You know, the activity of thinking too much or too deeply about yourself, your experiences, your feelings, etc. That’s from Merriam-Webster.

    Is that a question?


    No, not exactly, that was more of a reaction to your question, which was in response to my initial query. But if you don’t mind, I’m going to ask the questions here.

    You know, I had a therapist say that to me once.


    Yeah, how did that turn out?

    Not so good. But to your non-question, question, am I concerned about there being too much navel-gazing in Be Cool, no, I don’t think so, that never even crossed my mind. Really, it seems like writing personal essays would almost automatically engender that.


    Does that mean, that from your perspective, writing an essay collection, memoir (sort of) does not involve thinking too much or too deeply about oneself?

    Oh no, it does, but writing, ideally, is still something else entirely to me. You are attempting to craft a narrative that taps into universal themes, which just might offer the reader insight into themselves, if not actual entertainment and escape. And these are good things, and certainly the reasons why I read what I read.


    So, do you consider yourself an entertainer?

    At times, yes. Am I consciously engaged in the act of amusing or entertaining, also Merriam-Webster, absolutely. I want the reader to be engaged, and moved, and in my head. Does that also mean there is pain and confusion? Yes, of course there is.