Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Harvey Pekar and Josh Kornbluth

Trev and I went with our friend Amy to see Harvey Pekar interviewed by Josh Kornbluth at City Arts and Lectures last night. Last time we went we saw Josh Kornbluth interviewed, and I was wondering if he'd be able to stop talking long enough to let the interviewee speak. In many ways that would have been better. Josh was charming and funny where Harvey was irascible but not charmingly so. The problem is that Harvey *does* have the David Letterman problem; that is, people expect him to perform himself as Harvey, Irascible Cleveland Working Stiff. Which he both is and is not. But one wants to see how he will behave rather than hear what he has to say about comics, literature, etc. And maybe he doesn't want to talk about comics either--he'd rather talk about himself and his still painful memories about his parents, which is what his comics are about, after all. He's had a strange life, a professionally obscure celebrity, celebrated (by Letterman especially) for being obscure. He was very straightforward about how much approval, good reviews, and acclaim mean to him. He answered nearly every question with a reference to money--how much the artists who draw for him get paid, how many books he's selling, how many he needs to sell (which was why he was with us last night). It was not really funny or pathetic or anything, just a flat statement that he wants money. Maybe his shtick is getting old, or he's stuck in the middle of a shtick, no longer an obscure working stiff but a real celebrity now, worried about letting go of the act that got him here.

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