Stephen Tobolowsky’s New York Times interview

John Williams, interviewing Stephen Tobolowsky, for The New York Times, about his new book, My Adventures with God:

When did you first get the idea to write this book?

The real genesis of the book, so to speak, was probably 2008. I had a terrible accident, and I broke my neck in five places riding a horse on the side of an active volcano in Iceland. What could possibly have gone wrong? So I got back to America, and the doctor told me I had a fatal injury. Which is disturbing on many levels, including a terrible misuse of the word fatal. There’s not a lot you can do with a broken neck. So I’m at home waiting to recover, and I know it’s going to be a few months. And I thought: What if what the doctor told me was true? What if I had died on that mountain in Iceland? What would I have wanted my sons to know about their father?

Those stories became the podcast “The Tobolowsky Files,” and some of those found their way onto national radio. And then Simon & Schuster said, “Can we do a book of some of these stories?” That became “The Dangerous Animals Club.” After that, my editor, Ben Loehnen, called me up and said: “Several of the stories have a kind of spiritual resonance that we’re getting feedback on from people. Is it possible you could write another book of stories that are held together by the idea of spirit or belief or faith or something?” And I said, “Sure, not a problem.” […]

Persuade someone to read it in less than 50 words.

These are true stories from my life. Most are funny. Some are not. They’re often unbelievable, occasionally creepy. Together they tell a bigger story of how we are shaped by the invisible. Something I call divine. Something I hope becomes wisdom.

I have a copy of My Adventures with God [Amazon link] and from what I’ve read so far, it exemplifies the best qualities of Stephen’s storytelling. It is moving, funny, and provocative. I’m so pleased to have been a tiny part of Stephen’s journey towards bringing his stories into the world.

Patton Oswalt’s 20 favorite books

On Twitter this evening, comedian Patton Oswalt, who just won a Grammy for “Talking for Clapping” (congrats!), shared his 20 favorite books on Twitter. I love it when artists share their inspirations; getting them to do so is one of the reasons I created the /Filmcast.

I’m embedding Oswalt’s tweets below, then providing a linked list of them for easy access (links are via Amazon Smile). I’m looking forward to checking some of these out.

The Amazing Hour

Over at The Atlantic, James Hamblin suggests having an “amazing hour” before bed, devoid of screentime, to aid in getting a good night’s sleep. Some ways to use that time might include:

  • Packing your lunch for the next day
  • Writing letters to friends/family/celebrities
  • Read a book/magazine
  • Staring at a fake plastic phone and pretend you’re looking at a real phone

I should try this. But I probably won’t.

Nathan Rabin’s review of ‘Kanye West Owes Me $300’

Nathan Rabin reviews a book by someone who read one of Nathan Rabin’s reviews of his work:

In the section of my review of The Great Escape that Karp quotes in his book, I write that “Karl’s creative soul might not be worth the hassle,” a fairly brutal and heartless assertion (Jesus, it’s easy to be a cold-hearted fuck when you think you’ll never encounter the people you write about) he surprisingly agrees with. I would now like to take the time to say that Karp’s creative soul is most assuredly worth the hassle. It just took a different medium for him to fulfill his enormous potential. He took his overhyped nothing of a rap career and transformed it into the basis of a book that is something special. If that isn’t hip-hop, I don’t know what is.

Source: Jensen Karp’s Kanye West Owes Me $300 is a triumphantly funny look at failure

Steve Jobs, on what drove him

I’ve been getting into reading books again thanks to my Kindle Paperwhite, and finally finished the massive Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. The ending of that book got pretty emotional, as Jobs started losing his energy and approaching his own passing.

I was struck by one of the closing passages, written in Jobs’ own words — a statement about how our efforts at contributing to the world, while rarely perfect or ingenious, just may be enough:

What drove me? I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done by others before us. I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow. It’s about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how — because we can’t write bob Dylan songs or Tom Stoppard plays. We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That’s what’s driven me.