[posted 06.21.2002]


When we heard her books had earned praise from both Redbook and The Onion, we knew we had to talk to Amy Krouse Rosenthal. The next thing we knew, she was thinking about writing for us. Talk about synergy!

This week she brings her humor column, 15 Megabytes of Fame to ShinyGun. But that wasn’t enough to excuse her from our email interrogation. We recently quizzed the Chicago-based author of The Book of Eleven The Same Phrase Describes My Marriage and My Breasts: Before the Kids, They Used to Be Such a Cute Couple and The Mother’s Guide to the Meaning of Life about her mighty beginnings, her new audio magazine and more.


Subject: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Occupation: Author
Interviewed by: Samantha Bornemann

1.) You wrote for the much-heralded (and missed) Might. Tell us how you got involved with that magazine and why you wanted to be a part of it.

I sent some writings — ramblings really — to Dave Eggers shortly after the first issue came out. He insisted on having me do it in handwriting, as a free-form kind of column, which was something I was also doing for a parenting magazine at the time — Dave thought that looked and felt best. I had envisioned it more as a formal column, you know, regular type…but of course he was way right. The column is infinitely better presented in my handwriting.

2.) Are there other magazines, online or print, that you lament the passing of?

I liked Sassy a real lot, in its early years (later it started to suck, I thought). And I liked its short-lived boy counterpart, Dirt.

3.) What magazines do you read regularly now?

Harper’s. Utne Reader. The cartoons in the New Yorker. I also love The Sun, but don’t read it regularly…it’s too much peace and love and enlightenment on a monthly basis, but once and a while it’s heavenly.

4.) What’s the easiest part of writing a book? The most difficult?

The easiest part is the writing. I mean, it’s a shitload of work, of course, but I say easy in comparison to the most difficult part, which I find to be the back end, the promoting and marketing of it. It’s emotionally exhausting. I hope to do less of that, and more of just writing. When those get flopped, when I’m doing more of the promoting/book signings, etc., I start to feel out of whack.

5.) What was the biggest surprise about parenthood?

The sleep deprivation the first few months. Just awful. Deep down, I knew parenting would be great, and I would love my kids, and that is all certainly true. But the surprise factor for me was definitely the sleep thing, I just wasn’t warned.

6.) You’re the mother of three children. Is there a difference between being mom to three rather than one?

It’s just love to the third power.

Love. Love. Love.

I’m sounding like The Sun magazine….

7.) Tell us about Writers Block Party. What is the allure for you of an audio magazine?

The allure was that it hadn’t been done. And also just bringing all these amazing people together, stuff I dig all compresed in one little box.

8.) The album includes work from Billy Collins, Ralph Covert, Cynthia Kaplan and 14 others. Who was the most difficult to track down and convince to be involved?

Billy Collins signed on prior to being named Poet Laureate, so that was a lucky thing. The most difficult to convince? Probably Kenneth Koch. He’s a very accomplished poet, as you probably know, and an older gentleman — he just didn’t have the time to be bothered going to a studio or this and that. He was very gracious about it all; after all, who was i? This random girl approaching him for some freak project. But in the end, it worked out; I was in New York last spring and had the chance to go to HIM, took a handheld recorder to his office and just did it like that. I’m so grateful he allowed me to be persistant. I think his poem is exceptional.

9.) Anyone on your wish list for volume two?

Steve Martin. Liz Phair. You said wish, right….

10.) What should we know about your column, 15 Megabytes of Fame?

Despite its haphazard/handwritten appearance, it takes me a long time to write. Be nice to it.

11.) On your website you talk about receiving an email praising The Book of Eleven from a stranger named Renee, who, it turned out, was an editor at Rodale Press. She later recommended you to write The Mother’s Guide to the Meaning of Life. Two years later, you made plans to meet in person for drinks while she was in Chicago. The website says to be continued, but we’re dying to know: How did that evening go?

It was excellent. We both like martinis and shoes, so we totally hit it off. She’s a good friend now. She’s started writing as well, and is so funny. She just started a column in her home paper in Philadelphia. Renee James. Look her up. She’s hysterical.

12.) In The Book of Eleven you write about your dismay when a good friend told you she didn’t like one of your favorite films. Her statement made you wonder if you were wrong about her, if you two weren’t as meant for friendship as you’d thought. And I remember going through the same thing when someone was totally slamming a film I thought was amazing. Tell us — what was the movie in question?

Strangers in Good Company.

13.) What do you dream about?

Everything. I’m an avid dreamer. I dream long, epic, weirdass dreams almost every night. I always say I should go to sleep with a bowl of popcorn….

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samantha bornemann is a chicago-based author and editor. you can read more of her tv and film criticism at popmatters.com and in the book neptune noir.