Q: You incorporate many different literary styles into the book. It is first and foremost a humorous memoir—your coming-of-age story. But you also include a more subdued, touching portrait of your father. You use literary criticism to explore the successes, and more often the failures, of Dale Koby’s writing in the original 1961 Campus Sexpot. Your investigation into what happened to Koby even injects the book with elements of suspense found in detective stories. How did you arrive at the structure of this book?--Marshal Zeringue
A: With much gnashing of teeth. The book begins as a mocking exegesis of a very clumsy novel, the original Campus Sexpot. That exercise, while rollicking good fun in its own way, is ultimately limited for both author and reader, so I move on to broader issues—teenage sexuality, small-town culture, the repression of the fifties and early sixties, and definitions of manhood and fatherhood. My main “rule”—and every book has rules that the writer imposes on it—was that I could talk about an event from my past only if it plausibly sprung from some reference in the original Campus Sexpot. It’s a rule that I grew to curse, owing to the impoverishment of Koby’s book, and my frustration gets vented in the chapter that opens with the refrain, “There is no in Campus Sexpot”—no music, no popular culture, no sports, etc. Still, by stretching the rule a bit, I covered most areas of my boyhood that I would have covered in a conventional memoir.
Q: At what point did you realize that your interest in Dale Koby might become part of the book?
A: Koby’s book is partly about his life, and that raises the question about...[read on]