Paul Beatty is the author of two novels, Tuff and The White Boy Shuffle, and two books of poetry, Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor, and his lastest novel, Slumberland, was published in June by Bloomsbury USA. He lives in New York City.
On your nightstand now:
Well, I've never had a nightstand. In fact, I always thought nightstands were movie props that allowed for phones and alarm clocks to be placed at a scientifically determined proximity that prevents the protagonist from ignoring any late night phone call or sleeping through an early morning buzzer.
So, if by nightstand you mean windowsill or toilet tank shelf: Hitchcock-Truffaut: The Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut, Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry, The Idiot and Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead.
Favorite books when you were a child:
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh and The Book of Lists.
Your top five authors:
Richard Pryor, George Clinton, Kurt Vonnegut, Yasunari Kawabata and former White House spokesperson Scott McClellan.
Book you've faked reading:
The California Driver Handbook
Book you are an evangelist for:
Oreo by Fran Ross
Books you've bought for the cover:
Self-Portraits by Osamu Dazai, Red Azalea by Anchee Min and any Donald Goines book, sitting on any black sidewalk bookseller's table, outside any subway station where Negroes are likely to enter and exit.
Book that changed your life:
Social Experiments: Methods for Design and Evaluation by Leonard Saxe and Michelle Fine. It's the textbook that made me quit grad school and move to New York.
Favorite line from a book:
"I s'pect I growed. Don't think nobody never made me."--Topsy in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.
"Before he could mount a response I blasted him thrice in the chest, started the car, and drove home to watch 'Benny Hill'."--Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member by Sanyika Shakur
"I think of Dean Moriarty."--On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Old Man and the Sea, so that I can throw it in the trash after the reading the first paragraph and get back the 25 minutes of my life I wasted reading that sentimental crap.