I recently sat down with Aaron Goldfarb to talk about his two new books: The Guide for a Single Man and The Guide for a Single Woman (Foundry Group Press). Aaron and I have known each for four years, meeting via social media and (when I'm back in the tri-state area) in person.
PS: With The Guide for a Single Man and The Guide for a Single Woman, you're releasing two novels on the same day, October 28th. I've never heard of an author doing something quite like this before.
AG: Probably because no one else is dumb enough to try something so audacious!
PS: How do the two books relate to each other?
AG: You can read the books in either order. Both tell the story of one night of bar-hopping in New York from two different points of view. The Guide for a Single Man from a thirtysomething man's POV; The Guide for a Single Woman from a woman's. The four main characters interact with each other throughout each book, but the only way you'll learn the full story is by reading both books. So I'm not calling them sequels or prequels, but equals.
PS: So how did these come about?
AG: I've never been exactly what you'd call a standard novelist for better or worse. My first novel, How to Fail: The Self-Hurt Guide was written under the guise of what I called a "self-hurt guide," the utter opposite of a self-help guide. When it came time for my next project, I was talking with my manager Craig Wood who asked me if I'd ever heard of a movie called A Guide for the Married Man. I'm a total movie buff, but surprisingly I hadn't heard of it. Craig told me not to waste my time watching it, but I'm not very good at listening and found it streaming on Netflix. He was right, it wasn't a great. Just some crappy 1960s comedy starring Walter Matthau in a series of comedic vignettes in which one longtime married man tries to explain to a recently-married buddy (Matthau) how to cheat on his wife. Oddly enough, it was the one and only movie Gene Kelly ever directed. Again, as I said, not a great movie and it has a pretty shitty message for the record. But an interesting premise and an interesting idea for the next project Craig thought I should write: A Guide for the Single Man!
PS: How did you begin with that?
AG: Well it actually started as a movie. Craig thought a screenplay told through a series of comedic vignettes would be right in my wheelhouse and I would do a great job with it. (I was also indeed a single man at the time). I agreed because I really wanted to tackle the romantic comedy genre in a way that had never really been done before. Most romantic comedies are really boring and totally unrealistic I think you'd agree. So initially this project started as a fairly ambitious screenplay.
PS: So where did Single Woman come in?
AG: For the longest time I'd had in the back of my mind something one of my film professors had told me at Syracuse back when I was attending in the late-90s. He told us that essentially, each week one Hollywood studio releases a "male" movie and another studio releases a "female" movie. Have you ever noticed this? This happens just about every single weekend. So in the same weekend, say, Batman comes out (male) and Mamma Mia comes out (female). And different studios own each one so they're not competing with each other.
So, I thought, what if I wrote and controlled both the "male" and "female" movie for a weekend? I could write A Guide for the Single Man AND also write A Guide for the Single Woman. Then they'd be released the very same weekend and men would go to one movie, women to the other, and then meet in the theater lobby and confer. "This guy Devin stole the show in our movie." "Wait, Devin was in your movie? He was in our movie too! He was hilarious." And, with overlapping characters and storylines, we would assure that men and women would have to and want to attend both movies for the weekend. It would be a huge event and make tons of money.
That was the goal...
PS: How does that turn into two books instead?
AG: Because Hollywood has no interests in paying for and then releasing two big budget romantic comedies at one time! So I decided, for now, and this is about 2009, to kind of adapt them backwards into two books.
PS: Which you did...
AG: Which I did. And which, honestly, work a whole lot better as books.
PS: So which book should we start with first?
AG: Either one! That's the beauty of them. (Though, I must admit, I favor The Guide for a Single Man just a tad more.)