Scott Nadelson is the guest. His new memoir, The Next Scott Nadelson: A Life in Progress, is now available from Hawthorne Books.

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How could you do this to me?

I’m sorry.


I thought we had a deal.

I know, I know.


You were supposed to go on writing your little stories about everyday woe in the New Jersey suburbs, and I was going to enjoy my obscurity here in Oregon.

That was always my intention.

Cover_TheNextScottNadelsonMy fiancée left me for a drag king named Donny Manicotti.

That sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s not. It’s my life.

I do find it funny now – from a distance of some years and happily married – and even at the time I recognized how ridiculous the situation was, though mostly I was bewildered and devastated. I’d always prided myself on being someone who appreciated the absurdity of life, who didn’t take it too seriously, but there’s an enormous difference, I discovered, between reading a Kafka novel or watching a Woody Allen movie and living inside of one.

Jerusalem—August, 1995

The orange soda was too gassy for Joel to gulp. He’d wanted orange juice but had made the mistake of letting his grandfather order for him. His grandmother had made the same mistake, and now the waitress brought out coffee in tiny ceramic cups. His grandfather took one sip, said, “Awful,” and pushed the entire saucer away.

Is it true that you share something with Kafka?

That’s right. I was born on the old man’s ninetieth birthday.


And you think that makes you special?

Absolutely. I’m unreasonably proud of the fact. And I feel that it gives me full license to go around quoting his famous line about a book being “the axe that breaks up the frozen sea within us.”