Welcome to the first episode of SPOTLIGHT ON LONG BEACH — our chance to throw some attention onto our local literary community. We do love our fair city, and hope to help celebrate it a bit on the pages of this (BRAND-SPANKING NEW!) blog.
Recently we caught up with Tim Grobaty (Grow-bay-tee, for those unfamiliar) via email. Grobaty is a long(longlonglonglonglonglong)-time humor columnist for the Press-Telegram — or at least he was as of 11:44 AM today. And the city is all the better for it, too. Case in point: this column on the gun control marches on school campuses a couple weeks ago.
As you may recall, we published Grobaty's book I'm Dyin' Here: A Life in the Paper, which mourned the ever-decreasing size of his once-ginormous newsroom, along with the ever-dwindling years left on his once-promising life. (He's not that old, honestly. Guy just doesn't take very good care of himself.) Seriously, we love Timmy to itty bitty pieces and are very glad to call him a long(longlonglonglonglonglong)-time friend.
[Oh, and please ignore his ribbing me about the Lynn Schockner murder case in paragraph five. I spoke about the case on Dateline NBC this one time and, for a few seconds, even thought about writing a book about it, but I've kind of obviously moved on. Why he gotta dredge up old stuff like that? — W]
BPP: It's been two years since we published your quasi-memoir, I'm Dyin' Here: A Life in the Paper. What was the best part of the experience?
TG: Being done. There's nothing better (there is, of course; it's just a phrase) than unboxing a carton of fresh, new books for the first time. I always dump them on the bed and roll around in them like Scrooge McDuck with his money.
BPP: Any regrets?
TG: Regrets? Well, there are always things you feel like you forgot to mention. And, because it's a memoir, I suppose some people were somewhat hurt, or at least unpleasantly surprised by some aspects of, particularly, my childhood and my stepmother. But I wouldn't change those aspects of the book.
BPP: Thanks for not listing your choice of publisher among your regrets. Because we would have had to print that. Are you any closer to the grave now? Is the paper?
TG: Both the paper and I are still in a death-match, but it looks like I may barely outlast the paper. It's owned by a ruthless and greedy hedge fund (why couldn't we have been bought by a selfless and benevolent hedge fund?) who are sucking up its assets to fund wild, speculative, and invariably losing ventures. I may have to change careers soon.
BPP: What are you reading right now?
TG: What am I reading, or what do I want people to think I'm reading? I'm a Kindle addict and I spend money wantonly on e-books, so I can be claiming to read at least a dozen books right now. I'm serially reading Robert Crais' Elvis Cole novels, plus Tyler Dilts' new one, Mercy Dogs, plus The Largesse of the Sea Maiden, a posthumous collection of stories by Denis Johnson that I rushed through until the last story which I stopped at because I knew when I finished it I would never get to read anything new by Johnson, so I'll probably ever read it. Plus I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi.
BPP: What kind of book should Brown Paper Press publish next?
TG: I'd be very interested in a crime/court non-fiction book. I suppose I'm thinking along the lines of the sort of stories that do well in podcasts. Something local. Every few years there's a remarkable case involving the whole package, from the crime, the solving of the crime and the ensuing court case. Like the November 2004 murder-for-hire of Lynn Schockner. If you could find a writer familiar with that, I'd read a book about it comma Wendy.
BPP: No chance comma Tim.