Vol 17 - Issue 28 - July 14-20, 2004 


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Ken Mondschein
Alexander Zaitchik
Adam Bulger


By Alexander Zaitchik

NED VIZZINI started writing for New York Press in 1996, when he was 15. His first book, Teen Angst? Naaah..., a compilation of his 90s Press pieces, was published in 2000 by Free Spirit Publishing. His new novel Be More Chill (Hyperion/Miramax) is about a guy who gets a pill that makes him cool. Part of the Young Authors phenomenon, he lives in Park Slope.

Why do you write books for teenagers? Are you afraid of being a real writer? I learned very quickly, when my first book was published, that there are rewards to writing for young people. They don't compliment you because of any ulterior motivethey do so if and only if they actually like your writing. If they don't, they tell you [that] you suck. Plus they're going to be alive longer than old people. And all great literature ends up as young adult literature anywayUlysses is read in high school these days. I found a way to leapfrog into the canon.

Your new book is about a teenager who gets an ingestible supercomputer called a "squip," which tells him how to be cool all the time. It seems inspired by real drugs. A lot of people think the squip is drugs. Drug addicts, mostly. The squip isn't meant to be any drug, although in its ability to get you laid, it probably most resembles ecstasy. It's really a productthe ultimate product. It's designer jeans, high heels, giant hoop earrings. It's money more than any drug. I cribbed the idea from the band Drunk Horse. They have a song called "AM/FM Shoes," about a man whose life sucks until he straps on his special shoes that play the radio, at which point all the ladies love him and he becomes the bee's knees.

Did Harvey Weinstein throw in a mansion when you signed with Miramax? I live under a loft bed, and my backyard is infested with cats. I'm very very lucky to have one girlfriend, and I often don't leave the house because of backed-up email. I still live in Brooklyn and will never be able to afford Manhattan. I'm weak and don't play any sports. I have serious depressive episodes and once ate my own vomit. Sono.

You've been called a master self-publicist. I do loads of publicity for Be More Chill. Sometimes I go a little over the topthe book has a street team, a web campaign and a very closely monitored media sweep that I'm keeping on top of. I'm intensely worried about utter failure, and I try to defeat that with endless work. I got a summons for putting up a poster for my reading series, which I host every other Tuesday at Barbs in Park Slope. Mostly during the day I move data from one place to another.

Sell me your book in five seconds or less. Eminem dies in it. In a hockey accident.



Volume 17, Issue 28

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