Dan Kennedy is known to legions of fans of “The Moth” as host of their weekly podcast, a medium where truth is held in high regard and fictionalizing is frowned upon. But after a 2008 memoir (“Rock On: An Office Power Ballad”) Kennedy is making his first foray into fiction. "American Spirit" follows the 40-something Matthew as his life slowly unravels. Kennedy says he could maybe relate to the character — but just maybe.
Why is the mid-life crisis so fascinating?
I suppose because it
really doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, when it occurs to you that you may, in the best-case scenario, be at the halfway done with your life, it tends to grab your attention. Having said that, I guess we never know what the halfway point is. History is full of people who didn’t realize they were middle aged at 14, you know? Have I started the interview on a positive note? Hey, where’s everybody going? Hello?
How was switching from nonfiction and essays to developing a novel?
I am a huge fan of true stories onstage. But I hit a point in writing where I just wasn’t fond of dragging friends and loved ones into print for the sake of a laugh and a few bucks to eat on. At a certain point you’re having a nice weekend with someone and something funny or weird happens and you can see them thinking: “Jesus, don’t tell me Shakespeare here is gonna throw me into his next little essay.”
Is 40-something Matthew based on anyone?
As for Matthew, he’s a guy who can’t figure out what to do when his job is gone, his marriage is doomed, the money’s running out fast again, he’s drinking in suburban grocery store parking lots, eating hallucinogens and decongestants, and then burning frequent flier miles flying around the world making a bigger mess of things for himself. ... I’ve, uh, never known anyone like him.