Saturday, May 12, 2007

Marc Acito

Marc Acito is an irregular contributor to All Things Considered, the New York Times, and Live Wire Radio. His debut novel, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater, won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction, was selected an Editors' Choice by the New York Times, and is in development at Columbia Pictures.

I recently asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I like funny books. There, I’ve said it. Call me a lightweight. (Please. I’ve been on a diet since I was fourteen.)

And, contrary to the paleolithic opinion of Christopher Hitchens in the January Vanity Fair, I find women to be very funny indeed. Lately, in fact, I find myself positively swimming in a sea of estrogen. In quick succession, I’ve devoured three terrific titles:

1) We Are All Fine Here by Mary Guterson, a snarky, irreverent, yet heartfelt comic novel about a married woman who hooks up with her old boyfriend in a bathroom at a wedding and gets pregnant. Guterson has a truly original voice and writes bravely of things we all think but never say.

2) I Feel Bad About Neck, a collection of wry, insightful essays on aging by screenwriter Nora Ephron.

3) Embroideries, another stunning graphic memoir from Marjane Satrapi, author of the acclaimed Persepolis books, but this time about the sex secrets of Iranian women.

I do two things when I find authors I like. First, I read everything else they’ve written. In the case of Ephron, I’ve now got a pile of new books to enjoy. But, once I’ve made it through a writer’s entire oeuvre, I tend to read them all again, both to analyze how they did it as much as for enjoyment. Such is the case with Susan Jane Gilman’s laugh-out-loud book of essays, Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, which I’m now on my third go-around. And since Jennifer Good In Bed Weiner can’t write her novels fast enough for fans like me, I sustain myself with daily doses of her hilarious blog,

Why do I like funny female writers so much? I think it’s because, more often than comic male writers, they not only tickle the funny bone, but they tap an emotional vein. In my reading, I look for writers who achieve what I strive (and strive some more) to do myself — make readers laugh, make them cry, and make them think.

Remember, dying is easy, comedy is hard.
Visit Marc Acito's website and read an excerpt from How I Paid for College.

Check out Acito's five favorite authors.

The Page 99 Test: How I Paid for College.

--Marshal Zeringue