Nathaniel Rich and Writers in the Family

Nathaniel Rich lives in New York City, where he is an editor at The Paris Review. He is the author of San Francisco Noir and The Mayor's Tongue is his first novel.

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Topic: Nathaniel Rich and Writers in the Family

Nathaniel Rich: My father was a writer, and what was it like? Most of my childhood had- my memories of childhood were mostly about watching Mets games on television and playing sports games with my brother. And I guess there were a lot of books around and probably conversations about writing going on, but I was- I was usually watching TV or in my room reading or- or doing other games, which I won’t go into I guess. And I don’t- I don’t know. It felt- I did- it never occurred to me that it was- growing up it didn’t seem very strange or unique, and it’s probably informed a lot of decisions I’ve made or at least interests I’ve had. And I love literature and film, and- and that- that came to me from my parents. But beyond that, it’s hard- it’s hard for me to tell really. I guess the other thing is that I- I feel fortunate in that writing- unlike a lot of writers who- when they tell their parents that they wanna write, the parents don’t understand what they’re talking about and are really upset. And I didn’t get that- and what them to get jobs that will pay you a lot money- more money. I didn’t really get that from my parents at all, although my mother continues to send me news articles about how much money the hedge fund guys are making, so maybe there’s a subliminal- I think there’s a subliminal message there. But they can’t really get upset at me because they’ve set- they’ve set the bad example.I don’t know. I mean, I- I don’t feel-- I guess never thought- I guess I wasn’t that rebel- I guess-- hmmm, let me start again. I feel like what the kind of writing that I do and the kind of writing that my brother does and the kind of writing that my father does are all very different from each other. I- I would rebel against if someone asked me to write political commentary for a newspaper. I would probably not want to do that- I know I would not want to do that and feel uncomfortable and entrapped, but I- I feel like writing-- and my brother writes comedy and writes for a television show now, and- which is great and- that not something that I’m able to do really, and I feel like writing fiction and writing, you know, a story about a fantastical mayor in an Italian town is- is very different to me than writing about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and sort of major issues of the day. So I- I don’t feel that it’s- I don’t, you know-- as much as we’re both sitting down and writing, you know, we’re all sitting down and writing at some point in our days, it- it seems, in my mind, it’s very- we’re doing very different things.

I guess it’s- it’s nice that every- that people value his work so much and- and that I get people in New York, I suppose, are much more aware of him than, you know, maybe people in other parts of the country or in other parts of the world. But I don’t- I think his- his columns are really good, so I’m happy to be associated <laugh> with him.I- I think it’s interesting the way that- I think it’s definitely a-- I don’t know what else I have to add about it. I guess I’m- I’m often surprise-- not really anymore, but I have been surprised the degree to which people- that he- the d- degree to which he’s part of many people’s lives. And so that always interests me and- and fascinates me, but is not- wasn’t-- it-it still surprises me a little bit because he’s my father. But I think it- when you’re in a very micro world of New York publishing, it might be a different- it might-- he might cast a different shadow than in the real world and- and outside of- of New York.I don’t feel like I need to respond to it. People refer to me as- by a lot worse ways. I’m- I’m happy to be, you know- happy that I have a father whose work I’m really proud of and believe in. So I don’t feel sort of- I’m- you know, I’m proud of that, and I don’t feel like I need to combat that in any way. But it’s- it’s usually not people I- I know. I mean, people I know and meet don’t tend to speak to me that way <laugh>. It’s sort of just when I guess people outside of- of my circle, so it doesn’t- it doesn’t actually-- it’s not something I deal with very-- it’s not something I think about very much.

 

 

 

Recorded On: 3/1/7/08


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