Noah Cicero lives in Youngstown, Ohio. Has walked to the bottom of The Grand Canyon and to the top of a Lawn Lake Mountain. He has four books published The Human War, Burning Babies, Treatise, and The Condemned and one coming out called The Insurgent in late 2009 or early 2010. The Human War is currently in pre-production to be made by Sangha Films.
David Hoenigman: What projects are you currently working on?
Noah Cicero: I’m working on a book called Best Behavior. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it. I should in the summer. Most of my time is spent studying political philosophy for a book I want to write called Politics of Disquiet. I’ve been researching for two years and will probably be researching for another two years before I write the first line. It was be a combination of John Rawls, Pessoa, and Jared Diamond.
DH: When and why did you begin writing?
NC: I started writing in 8th grade. The story of why is weird but probably normal. My older brothers both played sports, both dressed similar. Both worked at the same place. They didn’t listen to music or care about anything artistic. I wanted to be different than them, so I took up the arts. I started playing guitar and reading and quit sports. I found out that I was tone deaf and could never play good enough to be in a band, so I started to write.
DH: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
NC: I don’t think I’ve considered myself a writer. A writer is like Norman Mailer, who gets paid. Who doesn’t have a day job. Who sits down to write every day at a typewriter or computer typing away knowing that the whole time they are writing they must write a book that makes money or they will have to get a day job. I’ve never made enough money to just sit and write. And I don’t think I ever will. And I put no hope in that possibility.
DH: What inspired you to write your first book?
NC: The first book I wrote was like 100 pages my senior year in high school. When I look back on when I’ve written, the inspiration is always a woman. Women not loving me like I want to be loved by them, makes me feel horrible, it makes everything seem worse and when everything seems horrible, we feel emotional. I would get emotional and write.
DH: Who or what has influenced your writing?
NC: I think what influenced me to write is that we aren’t allowed to express ourselves fully in conversation. I need to express myself. I need to say how I feel, which took on a greater thing, when I realized other people have feelings they aren’t expressing. There are others, a lot of them, that are going around not expressing, not putting their lives on paper. People deserve to have something written about them.
DH: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
NC: My environment is what my writing is about. The people around me. All the weird people and the little things that make them shine. We all live in these little worlds. I mean even if you’re Brad Pitt, you are still living in a little world hoping when you use a public restroom that someone didn’t take a stinky shit in it before you get there. I don’t live in that world. I go to work and there’s the crazy 50 year old dishwasher who says the word ‘devastating’ constantly. Or the pretty server who is obsessed with baseball. Or that guy who walks around campus really stoned who can’t get a job and makes me talk to him for ten minutes about nothing. And this is life.
DH: Do you have a specific writing style?
NC: My writing style is minimal. Minimalism is about freedom. I want to give the reader freedom to use my words in any way they want.
DH: What genre are you most comfortable writing?
NC: Personal memoir mixed with fiction. I always write things down that happened, but never in order and sometimes I make things up. The next book I have coming out called The Insurgent is personal and a lot of it real, but there are parts made up and things that would probably never happen to me. But it is a novel and that happens in novels.
DH: Is there a message in your work that you want readers to grasp?
NC: That your life is made up of the people around you, that everyone has a small shitty life, and it is more profitable respecting that than being obsessed with Brad Pitt.
DH: What book are you reading now?
NC: John Rawls’ Theory of Justice and Strauss’ History and Natural Right. Strauss is the original neocon. He is a total nut. He believed that sociology was nihilism, that politicians should never think about the future, that ‘the wise’ should lead the ‘unwise’ to ‘human perfection.’ Really crazy shit.
DH: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
NC: Ellen Kennedy, she is a really good poet. Her book Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs is so nice to just sit with and float away. Brandon Scott Gorrell is really smart and just writes existence. And Sam Pink, who is so much fun to read.
DH: What is the most misunderstood aspect of your work?
NC: Sometimes people say I don’t like women. That I’ve never had a female character that was successful and went to college and led a good life. Well, my response to that, name a male character I have that has been successful and awesome at life.
People have said I shit on upper class people who have money or stereotype them.
What I shit on, are consumers. There are two different types of people in America today. There are consumers and citizens. Citizens are humans that have accepted and are not afraid to admit they depend on everyone else to keep this world working and therefore everyone else depends on them to do their duty. Consumers are people who don’t care about anything but consuming and only think in terms of what they can buy and do to feel better than other people.
DH: Any memories of particular works: the writing of, feedback, the thought behind…etc.
NC: When I pick up every book there is a woman there, every book contains a woman except for Blue Collar Boy which contains my father and mother. The future of my writing looks bleak as I sit here. I have desired a woman for a long time. Love seems so irrelevant to me now. I don’t have any urge whatsoever to talk to anyone anymore about anything. I’m really poor right now. I’m barely eating anything of substance every day. I’ve lost 30 pounds in the last year. My car is broke in the driveway and the economy is collapsing. I’m trying to finish a silly associates of arts degree for what, I don’t even know. I have no desire to get a real job or have money. I don’t even desire to kill myself. I’m 28 years old and I feel like my life is over and the only thing I’m doing now is walking around and sitting and walking around and sitting in different places and none of the different places is causing different emotions. I’m just Noah wherever I go.
About the author:
David F. Hoenigman is the author of Burn Your Belongings.