We met up with reclusive author Jim Kokoris at a tony New York restaurant to discuss his latest novel, “The Pursuit of Other Interests.” Kokoris was characteristically distant throughout our interview; despite the fact that he was sitting across the table from me, he texted his responses to my questions from his BlackBerry. The rambling interview, which lasted seven hours (including numerous bathroom breaks, two naps and a French lesson), offers a glimpse into the minds of one of our generation’s most enigmatic and under-appreciated humor writers.
Q. Good to see you again.
A. I imagine it’s is.
Q. How have you been?
A. I is OK. Pretty goods.
Q. Can you please put the BlackBerry down? You’re not very good at texting.
A. OK!!. LOL!!!
Q. Thank you. Your new book, The Pursuit of Other Interests, is getting good reviews. What’s it about?
A. *PENSIVE PAUSE* What can I tell you, I mean it’s just a dynamite book.
Q. Can you possibly be more specific?
A. *LONG SIGH* It’s about a 50-year-old man who loses his job but doesn’t tell his family.
Q. Very timely. Were you at all inspired by the recession?
A. Actually, first I wrote the book, then I caused the recession.
Q. What is the theme of the book?
A. *ANOTHER LONG SIGN* It’s fairly obvious. Unless you’re saving babies in the sub-continent, don’t let work be your life. Especially if you work in advertising.
Q. Is any of the book autobiographical?
A. I went through a Charlie phase early in my career. I’m also a hypochondriac.
Q. Is that why you’re wearing a surgical mask?
A. *PAUSE* One of the reasons.
Q. Do you think people hide behind their work?
A. For some people, work is an excuse—they can hide from their families, and even themselves. They kid themselves into thinking what they’re doing is really important. In the end though, very few of us are doing anything essential.
Q. Have you ever been fired?
A. Yes. I was a stock boy at Walgreen’s. I was sixteen. (I had been caught throwing Kotex boxes at a good friend, Steve, who also worked there.) I admit, I didn’t see it coming. I fully expected to retire from that company.
Q. What ends up happening to Charlie?
A. You know something? I have no idea. I haven’t heard from him in months.