Timing is everything. With the early September 2013 release of the documentary feature film Salinger and the accompanying book of the same title, Salinger fever is running high. Enter Tom Ruprecht who has contributed a hilarious take-down of the world-class recluse and famed author of The Catch in the Rye. Ruprecht's new e-book single, with the Twitter-unfriendly title of This Would Drive Him Crazy: A Phony Oral History of J.D Salinger, hit the digital shelves Aug. 27. In it, Ruprecht concocts fake interviews with the likes of Paul McCartney, Steven Spielberg, and other celebrities who he imagines had encounters with Salinger. The result is the funniest e-book single of the year.
Ruprecht has made a career honing the fine art of lampooning. He's been an Emmy-award-nominated writer for Late Show with David Letterman for the bulk of his career. In 2007, he published George W. Bush: An Unauthorized Oral History. Ruprecht has also written for a variety of TV sitcoms, and newspapers and magazines. Thin Reads, which is devoted to the world of e-book singles, caught up with Ruprecht recently and conducted this email interview.
Thin Reads: Phony History is a thorough and comprehensive re-imagined oral history of J.D. Salinger's life. How long did it take for you to write?
I heard some guy who wrote a legit Salinger bio spend nine years on it. My book took three months. Life is much easier if you just make stuff up, as the anchors at CNN will attest.
Thin Reads: The oral history framework works perfectly to tell this story. What led you to use that format?
I've always enjoyed reading oral histories, because they're conversational and fly by. I thought an oral history would therefore be easy to write. Turns out it requires a lot of reporting and talking to people. But then I realized I could write a FAKE oral history without even leaving my home. Come to think of it, it was a very Salinger/recluse thing to do.
Thin Reads: You reference in Phony History the famed and wickedly unprofitable daily Pan Am flight from Mumbai, India, to Nashua, NH, that the Beatles took when they unsuccessfully traveled to meet Salinger. There's a vicious rumor circulating that you were a regular passenger on that flight, but even to this day stewardess won't discuss any details (although they blush at the mere mention of your name). Can you provide any details of that flight?
The only trouble I ever had on a plane occurred when my Dad was wearing a Walkman back in the day. There was an obese person in the aisle. The person was so fat, you couldn't really tell what gender they were. My Dad was looking at him/her and, not realizing how loud his voice was with the Walkman on, yelled, "HELL, I CAN'T TELL IF THAT'S A MAN OR A WOMAN." I felt awful for the person. If the person is out there--I am deeply, deeply sorry, Fatso.
Thin Reads: We see that David Letterman "blurbed" the cover of your book. Does he know that there actually isn't a physical copy of the book where his blurb will appear and that only 23 people who go to a special section in the Amazon store will even see the cover?
I think the only reason Dave agreed to blurb the book is he knew just 23 people would see it.
Thin Reads: Your pretty good at this fake oral history thing. We see many brand extensions like a fake oral history of Osama Bin Laden's last months or the secret diary of Alex Rodriguez's nutritionist. Any future plans in this direction?
Perhaps I can fool people into buying my next one by calling it a Fake Oral History of J.K. Rowling.
Thin Reads: We heard you have a fascination with all things Salinger. When can we expect your fake oral history of the former White House press secretary and ABC News Paris bureau chief Pierre Salinger?
I'm gonna go through my book changing all the "J.D.'s" to "Pierre's" and release it tomorrow as JFK'S VOICE: THE PIERRE SALINGER STORY. Thanks!