“As a novelist, you get an idea of listening to a character, and thinking about what the character would do, judging whether an action would be true to the character. If you base it on a real person, a lot of those questions are answered, and it becomes a question of finding an avatar for them.”
How did Glen David Gold get over his Stalinist attitude against memoir to write his amazing new book, I Will Be Complete (Knopf)? Listen in as we talk about his transformation from novelist (Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside) to the narrator of his own life! We get into his realization that not only was his upbringing not normal, it needed to be revised and refined into a story (in which his dad comes off as a benign putz, which is fine compared to his mom . . .). We also talk about how Vivian Gornick’s The Situation and the Story fixed him up, coming to understand the narrator’s voice by performing parts of the book at open-mic nights, his introduction to Marvel comics & the magic of Jack Kirby, how the UC Irvine fiction-writing program saved his career, his brilliant idea for a podcast (which I’m tempted to steal), his teenaged nerd-out moment with John Irving, the pros & cons of collaborating on comics and screenwriting vs. the solo work of novel-writing, the cultural history of LA, his 3-week work ethic, why he pushes Bourjaily’s Now Playing at Canterbury on anyone who’ll listen, and more! Give it a listen! And go buy I Will Be Complete!
“I thought of Kirby’s Silver Age work as his Ulysses, and the ’70s stuff was his Finnegans Wake.”
“One of the things I’m interested in is artists’ careers after their first act is over: where do they go, and why?”
About our Guest
Glen David Gold is the author of the bestselling novels Sunnyside and Carter Beats the Devil, which has been translated into 14 languages. His essays, memoir, journalism and short fiction have appeared in McSweeney’s, Playboy, Tin House, Wired, Zyzzyva, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, the Guardian UK and London Independent. He has written The Spirit for DC comics and The Escapist for Dark Horse. His essays on the artist Jack Kirby accompanied the landmark Masters of American Comics and Comic Book Apocalypse museum shows. Recently he has co-written episodes of The Thrilling Adventure Hour and Welcome to Nightvale. His new book is the three-part memoir I Will Be Complete.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Glen’s house on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mr. Gold by me. It’s on my instagram.