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Lebowitz talks airlines, writer’s block and journalism before Galesburg appearance

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Brigitte Lacombe
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Fran Lebowitz will appear at Galesburg's Orpheum Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Iconic humorist, writer, and actor Fran Lebowitz will bring her wit, style, and social commentary to Galesburg’s Orpheum Theater at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Tickets are available at www.galesburgorpheum.org.

This interview was edited for clarity and time constraints.

Jane Carlson: I wanted to start off by asking you about touring. You’ve been on the road everywhere from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Lubbock, Texas. Now you’re coming to Galesburg, Illinois. What’s it like being on the road and not home in New York?

Fran Lebowitz: Horrible. I mean, this has nothing do with the places I go. Which, I’ve been to some fantastic places. It has to do with the fact of traveling is so awful now, and I’m not the only person that thinks that. In fact, this is not an opinion, it’s a fact. I always say to my agent, they pay me to get there. Because I really enjoy doing the actual thing, I really love it. But the traveling is really terrible.

JC: What in your mind are the worst parts about traveling right now?

FL: I would say the worst thing is the airlines. And this is not new, but it’s certainly worse. You know, to put your foot into an airport, anywhere in the world, is to knowingly deliver yourself into the hands of incompetence. It’s just horrible. Worse now that perhaps before COVID because there are fewer flights for sure.

JC: Can we talk about your book collection? I’ve read about that. How many volumes are in it?

FL: It just started out with books, just buying books. As soon as I could afford to buy books I bought books. I’m pretty sure that at the moment I have around 12,000 books. And I only say that, I could be wrong, because every time I move, I hire separate book guys, from the people who move the furniture. And for some reason, they always count the books. So the last time I moved, the guy told me, you have 10,000 books. He told me this in my previous apartment. When we got to this apartment, which is like, 10 blocks away, and they unpacked them, I had 12,000. So they procreated in the trucks on the way here.

JC: Are you more of a fiction or non-fiction reader, or does it matter to you?

FL: You know, I used to read mostly fiction. And I had this thing, I don’t know why, that I would only read non-fiction in the morning. But then during, I would say, Trump, you know, I started reading a lot of non-fiction. I started reading political books, which I never read. When I say political books, I mean books about current political figures. I never read them in my life. But I started reading them and so now I read, I would say I probably read more fiction, but I read quite a bit of non-fiction.

JC: Can we talk a little about writer’s block? I understand that’s something you’ve experienced for some time. Why is writing so hard?

FL: You know, it’s actually hard. I know this is not the general idea since we now live in an era, where like 100 percent of people – well, not 100 percent, because I don’t do it – but almost 100 percent of people spend all day writing. They think they’re writing, they send texts, they send emails. So I guess, you know, diaries and journals and blogs, and everyone tells you what they think about every single thing. And also every single thing that happened to them. But if you are actually writing, it’s very hard. It’s hard work. And I am very lazy, like really lazy. I mean, I’m not the laziest person who ever lived, but I’m pretty up there.

JC: So in this area, many of newspapers have been decimated. The ones that are left, most have one or two journalists employed. From your perspective, and the media you consume, how has journalism changed?

FL: Oh in every possible way. First of all, everyone thinks they’re a journalist. I mean, just because you write your opinions, just because you put something on the internet, doesn’t mean you’re a journalist. But the death of newspapers, especially local newspapers, you know, every small town used to have one or two newspapers. At least one. The importance of local newspapers has to do with local government. Because if there’s no local newspaper, there’s no one watching the local government. And there’s no place in the country that local government doesn’t need watching. We still have three newspapers in New York.

JC: And would you say you’ve noticed changes with those papers?

FL: Oh absolutely.

JC: How so?

FL: The Times especially, because that’s what I read. Well the Times, at least 25 years ago, started doing something that newspapers never did. Newspapers used to tell, you know, just the facts. Then they started encouraging what I would call writing. And so now, you have to get through four paragraphs of a description of the landscape of Ukraine before you get to what happened. I don’t read newspapers for that.

***

Lebowitz will be interviewed by retired local radio personality Terry Kavanaugh at the event.

Then she will take questions from the audience and sign copies of The Fran Lebowitz Reader in the theater lobby. Copies of the book are available at Wordsmith Bookshoppe in Galesburg.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Jane Carlson covers west central Illinois and southeast Iowa for Tri States Public Radio.