Reading with... Jude Angelini

Jude Angelini was born and raised in Pontiac, Mich. He got his start as a guest and comic on The Jenny Jones Show and now hosts his own show, The All Out Show, on Sirius Satellite Radio. He loves reading Elmore Leonard, science fiction and medieval fantasy, as well as antiquing and playing a good game of backgammon. He lives in Los Angeles, and his memoir, Hummingbird, was just published by Rare Bird Books.

On your nightstand now:

Crystals, condoms, various sleeping pills and an old lithograph of the allegories of music. No book, though. I find it hard to read while I'm writing and selling. I take most of my information in passively during this process. It's tough for me because on dating sites, smart chicks'll ask me what book I'm reading and when I answer nothing they pull back. And I wanna be like, "Well, what's the last book you wrote? Nothing? Okay we're even." But that would be dickish so I don't.

Favorite book when you were a child:

When I was really little, Wiley and the Hairy Man by Suzan Zeder, it's about a kid from the swamp who outsmarts some monster who wants to eat him. Spoiler alert: Wiley lives. I liked it so much we never gave it back to the library.

When I was like six, it was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. My mom would read to me and my sister Rachel at night and Rach'd always pick Judy Blume. I'd complain but deep down I really liked her. She used to crack me up.

In the fifth grade, it was the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I don't think I survived one of those stories, I was always making the wrong decision, falling off of cliffs. I still make bad decisions, now I write about 'em afterwards.

Your top five authors:

In no particular order, Larry McMurtry, Elmore Leonard, Mark Twain, Roald Dahl... and medieval fantasy.

Book you've faked reading:

I don't fake reading. I've faked like I was gonna read a book to get someone to stop talking about it, like, "Oh don't tell me anything else, I don't wanna know how it ends! The Secret's gonna be the next book I pick up. Promise."

Book you're an evangelist for:

Dune--the world Frank Herbert built and the storylines were just amazing. I remember reading it and saying to myself, this guy is so f**king smart. I wish I knew how to make up stuff like that.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I get magazines for covers. Most of the books I check out come from recommendations. My younger sister's a librarian. Her husband works at a bookstore. My homies went to college. My old man digs the crime novels. I get a wide range of suggestions. Too wide to succumb to marketing ploys. But I'll tell you this much, I won't buy a book that was made into a movie if it has the actors on the cover. Something about having to picture Matt Damon in my head while I'm reading a story irritates the sh*t outta me.

Book you hid from your parents:

My mom took me to see Animal Farm when I was four. My parents were hippies, I didn't have to hide anything. I was young as hell reading grown-up books: Soul on Ice, Our Bodies, Ourselves, Behold a Pale Horse. I grew up so wild that they weren't worried about some book ruining me. Plus we were into discussing ideas and having debates. My Pop would be quick to tell me why what I was reading was bullsh*t but he'd never tell me not to read it and he'd be into hearing my side.

Book that changed your life:

Bukowski, Notes of a Dirty Old Man. I'm not really a fan of Bukowski, but I read it as a fifth-year senior, when I was in remedial English. It was written in this conversational tone about a regular guy and it democratized writing for me. Before that I thought you had to have a degree or be a leader of a movement to be able to write and be read. That book inspired me to put pen to paper, literally. I got notebooks full of crappy writing because of him. So thanks, Chuck.

Favorite line from a book:

It's from a Roald Dahl short, "The Great Switcheroo," where these two neighbors wife-swap without their wives knowing. Next day the mastermind's wife wakes up ecstatic, she's crying with joy because after all these years they finally made love and she liked it. The guy's shattered, he goes to the kitchen window so she can't see his face break while she's gushing over the good sex, and outside who does he see? The neighbor he gave his wife to. He's chipper as hell, getting the paper. It ends with, "There was a lilt in his walk, a little prance of triumph in each pace he took..."--and here's the part I love--"and when he reached the steps of his front porch, he ran up them two at a time." Like a boss! Dahl says everything in one phrase. That's how I try to write. Any asshole can make something sound smart with a thesaurus but being concise, that ain't easy.

Five books you'll never part with:

I was just looking at my bookshelf for the answer and the selection sucks, because I loan out whatever I think is dope then never get it back. The result? A bookshelf full of rejects. I feel judged every time someone comes to my house and looks at it. Probably because I judge people based on their bookshelves myself.

The book I've had the longest? Behold a Pale Horse, it's some conspiracy theory. The author's an ex-Vietnam vet, who ended up in a shootout with the cops and is dying. I'm not even that fond of the book, but no one wants to borrow it and I just can't bring myself to throw it out. So it sits on my shelf for people to think I'm some tinfoil hat-wearing flat-Earther.

Books you avoid:

I like wizards and cowboys, so I read books about them. I get compared to Beat writers. So I don't read Beat writers. It's not that I don't like them, it's just I don't want them f**king with my voice. It's all I got. I never went to college. I'm not formally educated and for the longest I was insecure about it. Then I realized they can teach technique at school but they can't teach voice. You earn that. And while I don't know the rules to break 'em, I got voice in spades. So I cherish mine and avoid cats I might unknowingly copy off of.

That's not to say I'm not inspired by other writers. My last book, Hyena, I was ripping off Russians and Elmore Leonard like crazy. It's just they're so different from my style you can't really tell. It's kinda like how Prince was inspired by Bob Seger when he wrote "Purple Rain," and not Michael Jackson. I'm just trying to be like Prince.

Powered by: Xtenit