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Mac MontandonDescribe your latest project.
Like a lot of people, by now I very much expected to be living in the future. You know, with flying cars, teleportation chambers, robot bartenders (or was that just me?), and, of course, that most amazing device, capable of lifting you over bumper-to-bumper traffic like an urban angel, the jetpack. It hasn't happened well, unless you consider the Segway futuristic so in Jetpack Dreams, I set out to determine why that is and if it might soon change. Along the way, I met many charming jetpack enthusiasts and other firm believers in the power of flight.
I also recount the inspired, mid-20th-century jetpacking work done by Wendell Moore and his band of renegade engineers at Bell Aerospace's Niagara headquarters and Bill Suitor's 1984 Olympic flight in front of billions of viewers around the world; dig into a gruesome, jetpack-driven murder in Houston; and take a peek into the secret laboratories and government facilities of today to see the current state of personalized propulsion.
In other chapters, the book explores Hollywood's renditions of the jetpack over the decades, from the 1949 serial King of the Rocket Men to Lost in Space, The Jetsons, and The Rocketeer, to the popular 'packs worn by Buck Rogers, James Bond, and Boba Fett. Finally, I travel the world from Mexico to England, Ireland, and New Jersey to meet fellow jetpack fans who are readying their own personal flying machines for takeoff, some of whom are getting very close to the real thing. It's a story of hopes, dreams, obsessions, nostalgia, romance, physics, the seductiveness of soaring, and protective eyewear.
Tonight, I Will Do Anything: The Mac Montandon Story. Alternate title: Sunshine Travels Light. Both titles I overheard my four-year-old daughter say while pretending to read a book to an imaginary class full of kids (okay, yes, the class was very real to her), and I think they are fantastic and should be used for something.
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Describe the best breakfast of your life.
Why do you write?
Who's wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
If you could have been someone else, who would that be and why?
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Seven Books that Make Great Bar or Bat Mitzvah Presents
Even though many 13-year-olds hate to read, I like to try to get them to do it, anyway. Also, this list is like a delicious literary sandwich on rye.
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
First Love and Other Sorrows by Harold Brodkey
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
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Mac Montandon is the editor of Innocent When You Dream: The Tom Waits Reader. He has written for the New York Times, New York, Details, and Salon, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.