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Adam Mansbach

  • American author
  • Born July 1, 1976

Adam Mansbach (born July 1, 1976) is an American author, and has previously been a visiting professor of literature at Rutgers University-Camden, with their New Voices Visiting Writers program (2009-2011). Mansbach wrote the "children's book for adults" Go the Fuck to Sleep. Other books Mansbach has written include Angry Black White Boy, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2005, and The End of the Jews (for which he won the California Book Award for fiction in 2008). Mansbach was the founding editor of the 1990s hip-hop journal Elementary.He lives in Berkeley, California and co-hosts a radio show, "Father Figures".


For me, most of the anxiety and difficulty of writing takes place in the act of not writing. It's the procrastination, the thinking about writing that's difficult.




Novels are pirated all the time, but it's hard to imagine that you're at work and you open up the attachment that your brother sent you and it's the new Phillip Roth novel.




The genius of vinyl is that it allows - commands! - us to put our fingerprints all over that history: to blend and chop and reconfigure it, mock and muse upon it, backspin and skip through it.




When I'm writing, I'm in an isolation chamber. I'm not one to think about that outside world stuff when I'm writing.




'The Pushcart War' is presented as a history of a conflict that has not yet taken place; in each edition of the book, the date on which the hostilities commenced is nudged forward.




For many families, gift-giving is a major source of stress - the relentless commercialism, the whining demands, the financial pressure.




The publishing industry stopped having new ideas out of respect for the untimely death of Ernest Hemingway in 1961 and has been doing everything the same way ever since.




I've always been really involved in figuring out who my audience is and how to reach them.




The thing I love about being a novelist is that with each project, you invent a new world. You approach it with a different set of aesthetic and structural ideas, and you grapple with a different series of problems in figuring out how to tell the story. And yet there are certain concerns that stay constant.




The city fought a $300 million, 18-year war on graffiti. New York Mayor John Lindsay declared war in 1972, and the battle for the transit system came later.




I like to write in coffee shops in countries in which languages I do not speak are spoken. That way, you're surrounded by the buzz of humanity, but you aren't distracted by people's conversations.




To capture sound is to isolate a moment, canonize it, enter it into the historical register.




You know you're a hopeless record nerd when your time travel fantasies always come around to how cool it would be to go back to 1973 and buy all the great funk and jazz and salsa records that came out that year on tiny obscure labels and are now really rare and expensive.




Religious traditions are easy to lose sight of in today's marketing frenzy. Make sure you take time to gently usher your little ones into the rituals that have special meaning for you.




No one in my family has been observant for generations, but we all identify with being Jewish.




Look closely, and you can see where the grooves of a record widen, indicating a sparseness that can only be a bass solo, or grow denser to accommodate a cresting density of sound.




We had a kid. The kid was awesome. She didn't fall asleep easily. We complained about it. We got frustrated. But we didn't look for an out. We just accepted that this was part of parenting.




How do you sustain yourself when all the old structures people looked to for support - religion, family, ethnic solidarity - are crumbling, or feel so false that you refuse to avail yourself of them? What comes next?




Fundamentally, I'm profoundly influenced by hip-hop, so whatever I do is going to bear that seal.




Ultimately, very few people parent their kids in ways that strike anybody else as reasoned, appropriate or sane.




If anything, I was a prodigious eater of everything that was put in front of me. That was probably the only thing my parents wouldn't complain about.




My wife likes me to point out that she puts our daughter down to sleep more often than I do, which gives me time to write stupid books about it.




I would like to think that I curse expertly - it's not something that I do without considering it. I never curse without intending to; it's not something I resort to because of inability to articulate or find the correct word.




I believe that writers have a responsibility to evolve the language, whether by introducing new words or new usages. Shakespeare alone is responsible for something like 3400 words and phrases.




When we talk about communities, we seldom discuss the margins. But for every person nestled comfortably in the bosom of a community, there is someone else on the outskirts, feeling ambivalent. Ambiguous. Excluded. Unwilling or unable to come more fully into the fold.




While I'm working, I stick with music that won't distract me - the dub stylings of Scientist and King Tubby, maybe some Beethoven string quartets.




Children crave routine and find listening to the same stories over and over again soothing. If you've grown weary of the holiday books you've read your kid 7,883 times, try adding 'dude' to the end of every line of dialogue.




Of course, the opposite of white privilege is not blackness, as many of us seemed to think then; the opposite of white privilege is working to dismantle that privilege. But my particular hip-hop generation proved to be very serious about figuring it all out and staying engaged.




Sleeping is one of the more private aspects of parenting; it happens in a quiet room, whereas eating is a more public aspect of parenting. Other people can see it and compare it to what their kids eat.




To me, 'The End of the Jews' - both the title and the novel itself - is about the end of pat, uncritical ways of understanding oneself in the world.




The goal has been not to get pigeonholed. I like working in different genres. I'm gonna try to be entertaining and funny and do my usual thing.




Sometimes, it's best to let the kids take control - and it's never too early to instill positive eating habits or self-confidence in the kitchen.




For me, graffiti writers were always the fascinating eccentrics of hip-hop culture. What they do is secretive by definition, and not remunerative in any way.




I've planned book tours for myself, whether or not anybody wants to hear what I have to say. I've weighed in on things like what the cover looks like, what the copy looks like, how it's going to be promoted - just every aspect of it.




The trains were the beating heart of the New York graffiti scene.




To be a white kid into hip-hop meant you'd sought it out and you practiced the art. Which meant dedication and diligence, as well as removing yourself at least occasionally from your own comfort zone and circumstances, and from people who looked like you.



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