Monday, August 30, 2010

An Interview with David Bader, author of THE BOOK OF MURRAY

In a recent interview with this blog, David Bader, author of "THE BOOK OF MURRAY", kindly took some time out of his Internet time and did this email interview with us. Enjoy the Q & A and then read the book. It's a keeper. Links and website connections below.

Just to set the scene, THE BOOK OF MURRAY tells the story of the Old Testament's most unlikely prophet, Murray, son of Irving, of the Tribe of Levi (Relaxed Fit). "As ancient scrolls go, I think it's the best one I've written," Bader told us in an aside.

You can read excerpts at:

And if you want to Amazon it, try here:

And there's the library stuff: THE BOOK OF MURRAY: The Life, Teachings and Kvetching of the Lost Prophet published by Harmony Books in August 2010 Anno Davidus ISBN: 978-0307453242 (whatever that is!)

DANNY BLOOM: We started off the interview with a general question, like where do you live, etc. David replied, well, read his first answer below:

DAVID BADER: I live in Manhattan, not far from Central Park. I spend my time quietly, working, writing, exploring the city, and trying to avoid film crews shooting "Gossip Girl." I do some copywriting and freelance projects to remain sane and solvent. Strange, because I was always told that haiku writing was where the money was.

When asked where he went to college and what he studied there, David replied:

"I went to Harvard College, where I was educated way beyond my intelligence. I studied history and literature. I had some great professors there, but I can't think of any who directly shaped my writing. I'm not even sure they would approve of it. Possibly, they might try to deconstruct it and present their analysis at a meeting of the Modern Language Association. I think I was influenced more by my high school English teachers than by my professors at Harvard."

David is a lawyer, former lawyer that is, so we asked him about this, and he replied:

"I practiced at a large firm in Manhattan, working mainly on corporate and securities law, with some dabbling in other areas. My two particular areas of expertise were pulling all-nighters and being miserable. People told me that the problem was that I was a small cog in a large machine and that I should move to a smaller, more collegial firm. I did that and became a small cog in a smaller, more collegial machine. (That firm was later swallowed up by a bigger firm anyway.) I wouldn't have minded any of it if I had found the work satisfying. It wasn't evil or wrong, just very dull and always done under extreme time pressure."

When asked about his views on religion and his education as a Jewish man in America, David said he comes out of the Reform Judaism tradition, which is different from the Orthodox tradition and the Conservative tradition. When asked how Reform he was, David replied:

"Very reform. At the traditional age of 13, I was bar mitzvahed in a somewhat non-traditional service. There were the usual Torah and Haftorah portions, but it was held in my parents' living room under the aegis of a very kooky rabbi. Today, as an adult, I'm always reading and trying to get a better understanding of Judaism, and I do try to be aware of the mitvot [commandments] I am not following. I don't attend services regularly though."

When asked how THE BOOK OF MURRAY came about, what is genesis was, etc., David explained:

"I really enjoyed writing the short Jewish account of the life of the Buddha in my earlier book titled 'Zen Judaism', and I wanted to do something longer, a life of a prophet. And I really liked the idea of a biblical prophet who anticipates and comments on modern Jewish idiosyncrasies. I thought it would just be fun to do my own version of an Old Testament prophet -- Jeremiah, but funnier. I came up with an introduction, a few sample chapters, and an outline for the rest. My agent, John Boswell Management, sent it to an editor at Harmony Books, publisher of two of my previous books. Harmony bought the book, although it was just a one-book deal for now. I do hope there will be interest in others if I come up with something good."

DANNY BLOOM: David, will there an extensive book and media tour for the book? GMA show, NPR, CNN, BBC? What are the media plans for book's promotion, Jewish media included?

DAVID BADER: Media tour? So you're a humorist, too. I think this is the media tour [my being online with you in the blogosphere here, and my website]. As you know, Danny, it's very hard to get media attention for humor books. I'm hoping for some bookstore display and word of mouth. It has worked for some of my books, not for others. For example, "Haikus for Jews" sold extremely well. With any luck, people will see that 'The Book of Murray' is a fun read, a good holiday gift, and an excellent year-round gift for anyone named Murray."

When asked how long it took to write the book, David replied:

"Hard to say. The idea was kicking around in my head for a few years, and when I finally started to write it, it took several months to write the first few chapters and proposal, though I only worked on it sporadically. Then maybe a couple of days and evenings each week over 6 or so months to write the whole book. I was doing other things at the same time and I didn't keep track of my hours."

When asked which writers have influenced him, David said:

"Hmm... I think for anyone writing Jewish humor, Woody Allen and Mel Brooks loom large, though I really love a lot of non-Jewish writers. Stephen Leacock, James Thurber, P.G. Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, Bill Bryson, the list is pretty long. For this book, I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the Bible."

DANNY BLOOM: Who is your target audience for the book? What age group is the target group of readers? Male, female? Dish.

DAVID BADER: "I would like to think there is something for every generation, gender and even religion. There are some Jewish references, obviously, but it's aimed at anyone with a sense of humor."

DANNY BLOOM: David, have you gotten much feedback already from readers, early reviews, etc?

DAVID BADER: "The book hasn't been out long, it just came out in late August, summer of 2010, but so far the feedback and early reviews have been quite positive. Jewish Week and the Jewish Chronicle both said very nice things about it, as have readers who have e-mailed."

DANNY BLOOM: This blog is anchored in Taiwan. Most Taiwanese people cannot read English and they know very little about Jewish people. What would you like to say to potential Taiwanese readers of your book, in the odd chance that it gets translated one day into Chinese characters here? Many books from the USA are translated for Taiwan's 3000 active English readers, from books by Noam Chomsky to Bill Gates.

DAVID BADER: "The main thing potential Taiwanese readers need to be told is that even my worst writing is funnier than Noam Chomsky's. Though his 'Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory' had me rolling on the floor. As for 'The Book of Murray', it's scary to think of it as a Taiwanese person's first introduction to Judaism. I hope something else is translated first." [Ed Note: In fact, Elliot Tiber's TAKING WOODSTOCK was translated into Chinese for the Taiwan market a year ago and sales were good.]

When asked about future plans, his next book, David mused somewhat stoically, somewhat mystically:

"I have a couple of ideas, but it remains to be seen whether I can execute them successfully. I'm currently hoping that another ancient scroll turns up somewhere."
DANNY BLOOM: David, thanks for your time and for answering this questions in Internet time.

DAVID BADER: Thank you. I hope you enjoy the book, too.

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