Larry Doyle is the author of the best-selling book, I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER. He also produced and wrote The Simpsons for several years, wrote Beavis and Butthead, was the entertainment editor at New York Magazine and wrote a bunch of Hollywood movies. Oh, and he regularly writes very funny pieces for the Shouts & Murmurs section of The New Yorker.
I caught up with Larry at Evergreen Café in Baltimore where we often sit together and work. Larry was working on the webpage for his amazing and hilarious new novel GO, MUTANTS! (HarperCollins, June 22th). I was working on this interview.
You know the last author I interviewed for TNB was Audrey Braun who hung up on me because she was in the middle of buying No. 7 Breast Cream at Target. You wouldn’t blow me off for breast cream, would you?
It would depend largely on why I needed the breast cream, and how urgently. As a former journalist I would also recognize the color value of having you, as the reporter, accompany me while I was buying the breast cream, though this might work better if I was Eva Green, or anybody whose breasts the reader would like to imagine being smeared with cream. I suppose the true corollary of this for a male author would be penis cream, in which case I change my answer to, “Where can I buy this penis cream, and what does it do?”
GO, MUTANTS! takes place in high school in what appears to be both the past and the future (at once). One of my favorite characters has breasts that become gigantic and a head that progressively shrinks. Was she based on anyone?
Every man’s ideal woman. My, that was glib, and sexist. And untrue, since the character, even after her head shrinks to the size of a baseball, still won’t shut up. I probably should have stopped with the first offensive remark. I would also like to change this answer, please, to: “The character is based on a dear friend of mine who bravely battled this condition for a number of years before discovering, to her horror, it was being caused by the increasingly large quantities of breast cream she was rubbing on herself every night. She’s all right now, thank God, but doesn’t date as much.”
I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be you. I mean you have one character who is a drunkard—a detached head soaking in fluid who wouldn’t mind if her husband whacked their daughter so she could have a nice body to go with her head. When does this stuff come to you? In the middle of the night when you can’t sleep? While you’re at Whole Foods buying fruit?
I don’t see your point. Are you saying that other people’s families aren’t like that? I was simply working in the new realist school, like that guy who wrote that book but then wouldn’t go on Oprah, the tool. (Oprah: I would never do that to you.)
I read GO, MUTANTS! in one sitting while in bed one night. I was laughing out loud (waking up my husband who became rather irritated with me) and often re-read funny bits just to laugh again. Do you crack yourself up when you’re writing? Or are you your own wife who’s heard all her husband’s jokes?
I don’t laugh in bed. I consider it coarse. I’m surprised you’re not divorced. The only time I laugh at my own stuff is when it’s been such a long time since I wrote it that I’ve forgotten . At my present rate of alcohol intake, this is approximately three days.
This is a two-part question: which character in GO, MUTANTS! most resembles you? And, if you were a character in the book, which other character would you want to have sex with? I’d want to do it with Johnny, the radio-active ape-boy, by the way. Jelly is too gelatinous. And J!m is way too longish a person for me (also, the shedding skin really doesn’t turn me on).
I’m the radioactive ape-boy, of course. (Note to readers: this is sadly untrue. I’m J!m, the sullen teen, only I’m not even long. Don’t tell Jessica.) I would like to have sex with J!m’s mom, the platinum blonde catwoman. And yet, I don’t like cats. I like dogs, but wouldn’t want to have sex with a doglady. I can’t explain it, or rather, I shouldn’t.
Last question. If you could live in the GO, MUTANTS! world where there’s a sort of 1950’s rebellious innocence and a year 2040 mega-connected-cyber world, would you? Or do you like the here and now?
Well, obviously the world of GO, MUTANTS! is one that any reader will want to return to again and again. As a practical matter, one has to consider that in the book five U.S. states are radioactive wastelands (and France is gone, for what that’s worth). Assuming I didn’t have to live too near one of those states, and was the rightful king of this world, I would choose fiction over reality any day, as my wife will attest.