Photo: Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images
He's a self-described "humorist-novelist-journalist-dramatist-lyricist-lecturer-reviewer-performer-versifier-cruciverbalist-sportswriter-screenwriter-anthologist-columnist-philologist," Playboy magazine called him our next Mark Twain, and Norman Mailer compared him to greats H.L. Mencken and W.C. Fields. Yet one thing Roy Blount Jr. is not is a singer.
While Roy Blount Jr.'s Southern charm is a consistent crowd-pleaser, his vocal contributions in the band the Rock Bottom Remainders are typically limited to the injections of "I love you" and "You move me," somewhere in the chorus of "Wild Thing." And sometimes, he even screws that bit up.
It hardly matters, since his many talents can be found on display as a regular on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, as a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly and as a columnist for The Oxford American.
He is the author of 20-plus topically diverse books on anything from Robert E. Lee to New Orleans to puppies. His first book, About Three Bricks Shy...and the Load Filled Up, a memoir about hanging out with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was named by The Washington Post and The New Yorker as one of the top 10 best sports books ever written. His latest book, Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts...with Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory, is an observant and humorous walk through our lexicon.
Before he went on the road, we asked him these 20 questions.
1. What book had the biggest impact on you?
Whichever one of mine you may be considering buying next.
2. Have you ever read or written a perfect sentence? What was it?
Not yet, but you never know. Oh, wait, I believe that's it.
3. What was the oddest job you ever had?
Freelance writing. I still have it.
4. How did you start playing music?
Took piano lessons when I was 9. Showed no aptitude. That's why I'm in this band.
5. What would your theme song be?
"Any Ordinary Man Would Have Given It Up By Now," sung by The Swanky Modes in the movie Tapeheads.
6. What is your favorite food?
Mom's fried chicken. Was.
7. Which individual has, for better or worse, had the single greatest influence on your life?
8. What is your greatest career coup?
Not having given up my career yet.
9. What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome or challenge you have ever faced?
10. What characteristic do you admire most in others?
Cheerful willingness to buy books.
11. What talent would you most like to possess?
12. What is your favorite film?
The movie Duck Soup.
13. What inspires you most?
The need to eat.
14. What is your greatest fear?
That I will lose the need to eat.
15. What gives you hope about the world today?
16. What is one thing you have always wanted?
A mustache like that of Kaiser Wilhelm II. I don't want to be Kaiser, though.
17. What is your most valued possession?
(We're still waiting for the answer...)
18. What is one book you've been meaning to read?
The one I'm writing now, Alphabetter Juice.
19. What is your secret guilty pleasure?
If I told you bathing in buttermilk, would you keep it to yourself?
20. How would you like to be remembered?
Now, before it's too late for me to enjoy it.
Learn more about the Rock Bottom Remainders
What does Roy Blount Jr. say about the band?
Published on April 21, 2010