Rookie Report: Jason K. Friedman
The adults had been there for hours—the ones from out of town, for days—and they all seemed happy, huddled in little groups that opened up whenever I passed, to let me in. They were offering me a space to receive their congratulations and slurred life advice. I smiled gamely and kept walking through my grandparents’ house—through the sunroom, past the living room picture window, past the silver platters of food, the crystal decanters with little nametags chained around their necks. I had nowhere to go. I had changed out of my bar mitzvah suit into an aqua leisure suit with a polyester shirt depicting a crowded seafloor scene. I had blow-dried and sprayed my hair into a kind of helmet. I was ready for someone my age to show up. I was ready for a miracle to take place and a cool bar mitzvah party to assemble on the screened back porch. A bar mitzvah was, after all, a religious celebration, and in those days it was religion alone that lifted me out of despair, inspiring in me the fervid hope that everything would be all right.
—excerpt from “Blue”
Late Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.
Jason K. Friedman: Southern, Jewish, gay stories unafraid of big emotion and prose.
LNL: If this book were the lovechild of two others, who are its parents?
JKF: William Faulkner and Cynthia Ozick
LNL: What ingredients go into the recipe of your writing style?
JKF: History and helium
LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.
JKF: Cain’s Book by Alexander Trocchi. It’s the junkie sublime, quivering with the force of true art. I love it not despite but because of its big flaw—the interspersed pubic service announcements about legalizing drugs that some editor should have axed. I love that they’re still there.
LNL: Answer a question you wish people would ask you about writing.
JKF: Yes. Now guess the question.
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Jason K. Friedman was born in Savannah, GA, earned a BA from Yale and an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. His work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies including Best American Gay Fiction and the cultural-studies reader Goth: Undead Subculture. He has published two children’s books, including the thriller Phantom Trucker. He was the runner-up in the Associated Writing Programs Award Series in the Novel, and he won the Karma Foundation-Moment Magazine Short Fiction Prize for “Blue,” the first story in Fire Year. Jason works as a technical writer in San Francisco, where he lives with his husband, filmmaker Jeffrey Friedman, and their dog, Lefty.