Five Questions With… is a series of short interviews with local authors and persons of interest. Today we’re featuring Pittsburgh author Jacob Bacharach, who will make an appearance at CLP – Main on Wednesday, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Bacharach has written two books, The Bend of the World and The Doorposts of Your House and On Your Gates. Both novels feature Pittsburgh, and both have been described as “madcap” by reviewers. Think UFOs, legendary monsters and re-framing Biblical stories.
Bacharach describes his latest novel, The Doorposts of Your House and On Your Gates, as being “about Jews, God, & property crime” on his Twitter profile. Others have called it “a biting, tragicomic fable for our neurotic times” and “a funny, incisive, complicated, challenging gem of a book.” You can read more about Bacharach and his work on his website, jacobbacharach.com, and be sure to join us on Wednesday at Main!
CLP: What is the most challenging thing about writing for you? The easiest?
Jacob Bacharach: The hardest part is getting started; it usually takes me a year to get through a good first chapter. The easiest part is everything else after that. The first 10,000 words are impossible; the next 90,000 are all downhill.
CLP: What do you hope people will take away from your books?
Bacharach: I deliberately write books without obvious morals, and I hope people come away thinking about the tension between our ideas about free will and our subservience to forces and institutions much larger and more mysterious than our individual selves.
CLP: Tell us about your favorite library experience or memory.
Bacharach: I was working in Downtown Pittsburgh when my first book was published, and I used the Downtown branch all the time. I’d stopped in to return a few things and saw my own book on the new fiction shelf. You might find this hard to believe, but it hadn’t really occurred to me until then that my book would actually be in the library! That somehow felt like a bigger deal than seeing it in some random Barnes & Noble.
CLP: What interview question do you wish you were asked more often, and what’s the answer?
Bacharach: I wish people were more interested in the business and economics of book publishing, because I think they’d be amazed to discover that many, if not most, of their favorite writers—especially writers of literary fiction and poetry—have day jobs as well. Wallace Stevens never quit working in insurance, even when he was offered a gig at Harvard! JK Rowling may be a billionaire, but most novelists never make more than a few thousand dollars on a book—if they’re lucky!
CLP: What three books should every human read and why?
Bacharach: Only three? All right. Tristram Shandy, by Laurence Sterne, which anticipated every subsequent idea and experiment in fiction, and which is also a laugh riot and incredible send-up of 18th-century English society. The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, by Karl Marx, which is one of the great contemporaneous accounts of political revolution: funny, incisive, eminently quotable and shockingly relevant to our contemporary political moment. Mumbo Jumbo, by Ishmael Reed, which is one of the great African-American novels told as one of the great American conspiracy narratives: an under-appreciated masterpiece of American literature.
Meet local author Jacob Bacharach on 6/21 at 6:30 pm!Join us at CLP - Main
Kelly reads, writes and sometimes sews, always with a large mug of tea. She is the Managing Editor of Eleventh Stack and Clerical Specialist at CLP – West End, both of which give her plenty of ideas for stories that find homes in obscure literary magazines.