Describe your latest book.
Wages of Rebellion looks at the nature of rebellion, those who do it, why they do it, and the price they pay for being a rebel. There are interviews with great rebels, from Julian Assange to Mumia Abu Jamal, who have sacrificed enormously for their resistance. The book posits that these rebels are endowed with what Reinhold Niebuhr called "sublime madness," something within them that does not permit them to conform, a quality that is vital to the rebel. The rebel does not ask if rebellion will succeed, but whether it is right. Without these rebels, and those willing to stand with them, we have no hope. Rebellion has become a moral imperative in the age of corporate totalitarianism. It must be carried out, even if it seems there is no hope.
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
"He's Back. He's Drunk. He's Obnoxious." (A title for a graphic novel about me proposed by the cartoonist Joe Sacco when we walked together into Gaza through the Israeli checkpoint at Erez Crossing after a few drinks with fellow journalists in Jerusalem. Sacco has a tendency to engage in hyperbole).
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
The strangest job I've ever had has been writing a book and working on magazine articles with Joe Sacco. He has a bizarre collection of photos he has taken during our time together of me pissing along the sides of roads in various locations around the United States and the Middle East. I have not explored the twisted psychological reasons he thinks this is amusing. I have seen him leaf through the pictures and laugh softly to himself.
What scares you the most as a writer?
Doing an interview with Joe Sacco present. After a few hours of questioning and taking copious notes, hours in which Sacco listens Sphinx-like, I then have to listen to Sacco ask the most important and essential questions surrounding the story, the ones I missed. This does not stop me from putting these answers in my work.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"I'd long noted that my buttocks looked not dissimilar to a shapely woman's breasts," by Joe Sacco in Bumf, Vol. 1.
What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
Playing practical jokes on Joe Sacco. Once, in Gaza, we had to sleep in the same room with two beds. One bed was a large queen-size bed. The other looked like a child's cot. I suggested we flip a coin for the best bed. Joe picked heads. I flipped the coin. It was heads. "You lose," I said. I climbed into the good bed. This prompted Joe, who has something of the prankster in him as well, to, while I was out talking about very serious weighty matters and drinking with fellow journalists, to short-sheet my bed and set my alarm clock for 3:00 a.m. I returned to the room, fully sober and alert, not long before that hour, but decided I would rather collapse immediately on the bed, fully clothed, and not bother with the sheets and blankets. The alarm went off at 3:00 a.m. I did not hear it. It woke up Joe. He finally had to get up from the cot to turn it off. He was unable to get back to sleep. He was hardly fit for work the next day.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
Not surprisingly, this would be with Joe Sacco, who actually reads books, including mine. We first met in Bosnia. We were each scheduled to appear at dawn to travel on a French military convoy to the U.N. safe area of Goražde. I, however, due to social obligations at the Holiday Inn where most of the press lived, had been up most of the night. Joe, who is always punctual, arrived on time. The French officers, not wanting to miss getting their names into The New York Times, for whom I worked, held the convoy for over an hour until I stumbled into the same Jeep that was carrying Joe Sacco. He was very grumpy. He complained about having to listen to the French for over an hour repeat — and here he tried to imitate a French accent — "We must wait for Le New York Times."
What is your idea of absolute happiness?
Making love to my wife, Eunice Wong. I suspect I am one of the few authors to answer this question honestly. She is an actor and very, very hot. She is also from an exotic foreign country — Canada, and you know what they say about Canadian women. She even likes Joe Sacco.
Five great books on life:
1. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
2. Ulysses by James Joyce
3. Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett
4. Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman
5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky