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Apr 2, 2020

Award-winning author, founder and editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Tom Lutz, took a timeout to talk with me about his early years as a literary ne'er-do-well, what it's like to hang out with your heroes, and why you can assume every writer is faking it just a little bit.

"Writing has never felt like a chore to me. It always feels like the space of freedom, and that I'm stealing the time from my job to do something I love." – Tom Lutz

In addition to editing the Los Angeles Review of Books, "... a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and disseminating ... engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts," Tom also founded The LARB Radio Hour, The LARB Quarterly Journal, The LARB/USC Publishing Workshop, and LARB Books.

He's a Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UC Riverside, and the author of multiple bestselling and award-winning nonfiction titles – translated into dozens of languages – including Doing Nothing (American Book Award winner), Crying, and American Nervousness, 1903 (both New York Times Notables).

His fiction debut is, “A literary thriller that wanders the globe,” novel Born Slippy is described as part "... literary thriller, noir and political satire ... a darkly comic and honest meditation on modern life under global capitalism.”

Bestselling novelist James Ellroy said of the book, "Lutz has the seven deadly sins nailed and rethought for our 2020 world. You’ve got to dig this book!"

Tom's writing has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, Chicago Tribune, ZYZZYVA, and many other newspapers and literary venues, as well as in dozens of books and academic journals.

He previously taught at Stanford University, University of Iowa, CalArts, and the University of Copenhagen.

** Note on the audio quality: I reached Tom in his natural environs of LA, and the sounds of that urban landscape dot our interview. This interview was recorded at the end of January. Stay well!

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In this file Tom Lutz and I discussed:

  • His early years as a juvenile delinquent and the teacher that duped him into becoming a writer
  • Why "... if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it."
  • How he's happiest (and most creative) when playing hooky
  • On impostor syndrome and sneaking in the back door of an exclusive club of writers
  • What it's like to hang out with Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood
  • And why you may not be the type of writer you think you are

Show Notes: