J.A.G. F.A.Q.

There's plenty of info about Jim Gladstone (the A is for Andrew) and his work throughout this site, along with links to interviews focusing on The Big Book of Misunderstanding and Gladstone's Games To Go but here's a curiousity-slaking interrogation about miscellaneous stuff that didn't really fit anywhere else!

So you wrote a literary novel, then switched to a book of games.What's up with that?

I don't think of it as a "switch"! I consider these books—and the process of writing them—as two tiles in an ongoing mosaic of creative projects. My short stories, travel writing, arts criticism, and even some of my marketing projects are additional tiles. I'm not keen on the notion of "career-building" in the arts; that implies a sort of linear strategy aimed at reaching some particular goal. But the creative process is a constant exploration of uncharted territory for me.

The quintessentially quirky French author Georges Perec once said that he wanted to write "one of everything." I love that sentiment. Although, I'd actually like to write more than one of a few things and skip a few others (no interest in car-repair manuals or religious tracts).

What are some things you hope to write some day?

  • The catalog essay and explanatory texts for an art exhibit.
  • Liner notes for an album.
  • Lyrics for a totally hummable pop song (in collaboration with a composer or band).
  • A menu (I wrote the descriptions of the daily specials at a restaurant years ago, but I'd like to do the whole shebang, including working with the chef on the overall concept).
  • A smart TV game show.
  • A children's picture book.
  • A young adult novel.
  • Jokes for a comedian.
  • An autobiographical monologue for stage performance.
  • More comic book stories (I've done one, and I loved the collaborative process with the artist).

What are some of your favorite books?

My favorite novels of the past five years are Jeff Eugenides' Middlesex and Michael Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I love these big, capacious stories that pull me into the emotional lives of characters while exposing me to fascinating aspects of American culture and history that I didn't know much about before.

Other contemporary top-of-mind favorites are After Silence by Jonathan Carroll, Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer, David Leavitt's short stories, A.M. Homes' Jack and The Safety of Objects, everything by Bernard Cooper and Michael Cunningham, Spalding Gray's work up through Gray's Anatomy (but not including Impossible Vacation and Monster in a Box), Vidal's Myra Breckinridge and Myron, Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety, Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides, William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, David Calvo's Wonderful (only available in French), Mary Willis Walker's Under the Beetle's Cellar, James Baldwin's Another Country, Wilton Barnhardt's Emma Who Saved My Life, John L'Heureux's An Honorable Profession and The Shrine at Alta Mira, and William Wharton's Dad. I'll post new recommendations from time to time on the News section of the site. And I've posted lots of older book reviews and commentaries in the GoBiblio section.


Santa Sangre, Birdy, The Stunt Man, Joshua Then and Now, Running on Empty, The Thin Man, Night of the Hunter, Say Anything, Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, Parting Glances, Kingpin, The Dreamers. I love sitting in a dark theater with lots of other people much more than I like watching DVDs at home.


Erik Satie, Prince, Susan Werner, Pet Shop Boys, Eurythmics, Carly Simon, Wilfried Paris, The Low Road, Serge Gainsbourg, Venus Hum, Lou Reed, Amanda McBroom, Pole, Billy Idol, Otis Redding, Jane Wiedlin, Misia. The Knack. I'm all over the place. To be honest, since spending a couple years as a pop music critic in the early '90s and constantly analyzing new music, I'm now happy to let music float up to me out of the environment and sort of randomly let anything catch my ear. I'm very open and happy to hear most anything, but tend not to get Passionate about music these days. Nonetheless, as I mentioned above, one of my big dreams is to write the lyrics to a hit pop song. Drop me a line and I'll explain exactly why.


I love to watch jai alai (although I rarely get the chance), tennis, and boxing. My interest in team sports is pretty much the equivalent of my interest in hot dogs and overpriced beer (They're ok, but easy to skip.) In terms of participation, I like to ride my bike and to hike in beautiful settings. Pillow fighting is also cool.


I'll try anything once, and I like most of it enough to try it again. I love reading about food, too, in magazines and in books like Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything and Calvin Trillin's canonical Tummy Trilogy. My food preferences have evolved more into 'how to eat' thoughts rather than 'what to eat' thoughts. I like food prepared with intelligence and real care (interesting seasoning, good visual presentation, juxtaposed textures, not too many ingredients in a dish, multiple courses with modest-sized portions). I'm starting to feel like the whole 'dinner and a movie' concept of going out is a bad idea. 'Dinner OR a movie' is more my style. If I'm eating out, I'd like to sit for two hours or more and really enjoy the company and conversation. And if I'm cooking for friends at home, I like to have a long leisurely meal, too. The food doesn't have to be fancy or elaborate to merit sitting with interesting people for a good stretch of time. Unfortunately, most of my American friends don't like to eat this way. Life is so hectic. A good meal can provide a real oasis.

What new projects are currently on your plate?

I've become a little wary of touting work in progress. Not because I'm one of these writers who's afraid the muse will take leave if I spill the beans before finishing, but because I tend to work on several things simultaneously until one races to the finish line, compelled by inspiration or a deadline. I'm still working on a novel that I thought I'd have completed by the beginning of 2003.but I started and finished two other book projects in the midst of that one! (Games to Go and Men & Ink, a forthcoming anthology of short stories that I edited for Alyson Books).

That said, I'm happy to give you a sense of the landscape, but without a path from one project to the next (and with the caveat that mergers, disappearances, and replacements may occur due to muse issues, economic issues, or bright and entrepreneurial new agents):

  • Imaginary Friends a.k.a. Feather - my long-aborning, title-shifting second novel
  • Several new Gladstone's Games-related projects - Look for announcements in the News section.
  • Façade - A multi-media exploration of people, houses, and identity, in collaboration with the French filmmaker Steeve Calvo.
  • The 'Brothers' Project (title TBD) - A non-fiction book combining memoir and reportorial research.
  • Young Americans - A historical novel set in 1895 Philadelphia that's been burning my brain and building my dreams for four years already.
  • Short stories, book reviews, essays, articles - I'll post info in the News section as they hit the page or the web. Check back often.

I appreciate the support and encouragement my readers provide. I know its sometimes frustrating to wait for me to finish the particular project you're most looking forward to, but trust me, as I mentioned earlier, all of the work is of a piece. The building of the mosaic requires me to be patient...you, too!

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