Adam Mansbach is an American author, and has previously been a visiting writer and professor of literature at Rutgers University-Camden, with their New Voices Visiting Writers program. Mansbach wrote the "children's book for adults" Go the Fuck to Sleep. Other books Mansbach has written include Angry Black White Boy, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2005, and The End of the Jews. Mansbach was the founding editor of the 1990s hip-hop journal Elementary. He lives in Berkeley, California and co-hosts a radio show, "Father Figures".
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Hey guys, the new book is YOU HAVE TO FUCKING EAT. You can order it here:
I also write novels and screenplays, although they don't sell as well as my obscene fake children's literature.
Why didn't you say "ASK ME FUCKING ANYTHING!" or "ASK THE FUCK AWAY!" when you posted this????
I absolutely regret not doing that.
I thought it might make you happy to know that I chose Go The Fuck To Sleep for my senior year English text analysis.
Can you tell us what you're working on now?
And you got away with that shit? Amazing.
Working on a couple of screenplays, one for director Vikram Ghandi, and a couple of middle grades series, one cowritten with Alan Zweibel and the other cowritten with Craig Robinson. And a sequel to THE DEAD RUN will be out early next year.
Hell yeah I got away with it. Two pages of ranting about juxtaposition and evocative imagery. 98% mark.
As someone who once successfully claimed that his cameo in "Back to School" constituted a "major work" of Kurt Vonnegut, I respect that.
Go the Fuck to Sleep was just fucking beautiful. It was so prettily illustrated and I thought it was fantastic, even before Samuel L Jackson read it. What made you think of it?
My daughter was two, and it was really my attempt to honestly render a parent's inner monologue and mash it up with a traditional bedtime book.
How do you feel about Levar Burton reading your book?
I feel incredibly enthusiastic. I grew up on Reading Rainbow.
How did you feel about Samuel L Jackson reading Go the fuck to Sleep?
It's his best work since Pulp Fiction.
Haha, there's always the "regret nullification", errrr, "EDIT" button.
Nah, I'll just give you credit for thinking of it, and keep it moving.
Maybe Do Your Fucking Homework?
I actually used to read Go the Fuck to Sleep to my now three year old when he was smaller and couldn't talk. It put him to sleep many nights. So thank you for that.
Now for a question, how's it going?
Haha. I'm good, thanks.
When you grill, do you use propane or do you prefer charcoal?
That seems like a loaded question, Doctor Propane.
Were you surprised when your book went viral?
I've never been more surprised in my life.
It's a trick question. The correct answer is "real fucking wood."
backs away slowly
Was it difficult to get such famous actors to voice the audio-books, or were they generally excited to do it?
They were! We have a great audio publisher, audible.com, but luckily the books seem to be attractive vehicles for heavy hitters like Sam Jackson and Bryan Cranston - which is thrilling for me.
Any thoughts about writing about potty training? Then not only could you use "fuck" in the title, but also "shit" and "piss". Maybe something like *Shit in the fucking potty" or something?
Respectfully, I'll pass.
What are some of your favorite words to abuse?
Well, I'd like to think that I'm a fairly eloquent user of profanity, but i wouldn't say I abuse it. I do tend to say "word" a little more than is probably necessary, because I'm an 80s hip hop dude.
You'd be surprised. Enter; anyone who let's television raise their children.
Hi Adam, big fan of your outside the box approach!
Did you get many complaints about Go The Fuck To Sleep? And if so, were there any particularly emphatic complaints?
Thanks! We got some, but generally they were pretty silly - "I'd never read this book to a child!" Yeah, no shit. What blend of literacy and illiteracy would that take, given that it says "fuck" on the cover and "you probably should not read this to a child on the back?
Can you write me a haiku for my cake day?
happy cake day, dude
you have chosen to spend it
wisely, with some guy
Do you have anymore books like Go The Fuck To Sleep and You Have To Fucking Eat in the works?
Not yet, but we'll see what shenanigans my daughter gets up to in the next few years. I kinda gotta follow her lead.
Do you see using words like fuck in the title of your books as a trademark for you as a writer? And have you gotten many reactions of people who are shocked by your titles?
For my obscene fake childrens' books, yes; that's sort of the calling card and also a reflection of the commitment to a no-holds-barred honesty. But titles are important in general, and even my literary titles tend to be fairly provocative.
Yeah, there's been some shock, but most of it is accompanied by laughter. Not all, but most.
Did you ever find yourself hearing Samuel Jackson's voice while you were writing the second book? Or to put it another way, did the celebrity involvement in the reading of first book in any way influence the way you wrote or heard the voice of the second book?
Interesting question. No, not really - I pretty much just wanted to do justice to the topic and get the tone right. I didn't think about voices for the audiobook until it was finished and I had some distance from it. At which point, Cranston came immediately to mind.
Had to edit it - there were six in the last line. Now it works.
What is the most embarrassing thing you know about Joe Schloss?
That he was born Yosef Schlossberger and Anglicized his name in order to sound less Jewish. Unfortunately, he failed to take it far enough.
Why are crossbows so cool?
Because Chewbacca had one.
Hi Adam. My wife and I both love Go The Fuck to Sleep and You Have to Fucking Eat.
I'm a stepfather to my wife's kids, as such I missed a lot of the experiences that you talk about in the books, so I find it beneficial to have your books as a doorway to moments in my wife and kids lives. Thank you.
How do you think your daughter will react when she understands that you've written books about your experiences with her? At what age do you plan on talking to her about the books (if she doesn't already know)?
Thanks! My daughter is aware of them - she watches the illustrations comes in, and she's pictured on the cover of the new book. She's also aware that the language in them isn't appropriate for her to use, that it's an adult joke even if it looks like a book for kids. In a nutshell, she's way more mature than I am.
Hi, Adam! What inspired you to write this? It's a hilarious book, I really love it
Thanks! My daughter was the inspiration. Big time. Boy, was she inspiring.
What do you like most about reddit?
I like your username most about reddit.
If you could have one person, famous or otherwise, be the narrator of your life story, who would you choose?
I'm partial to Bruce Willis, since I've already burned through Cranston and Jackson on these last two books. He's the voice of my inner monologue, I'm pretty sure.
First, I'd like to say thank you for being a great role model and basketball player (I was one of the kids you played with in your recent article about writing Go The Fuck to Sleep)
I'd also like to ask what's next for your writing. I've read your poetry collection and your novels, so I'd love to know what your working on or thinking about.
Finally, what are you listening to currently?
Haha. Nice! I assume you're in the NBA now. I'm working on a sequel to the thriller I published last year - it's called THE DEVIL'S BAG MAN. I also have a coulple of screenplays in the works, one for director Vikram Ghandi and the other an adaptation of the children's book THE PUSHCART WAR. And I'm doing 2 middle grades series, one with Craig Robinson and the other with Alan Zweibel.
And I'm listening to Your Old Droog. Heavy.
Well what the fuck should I eat? What's your favourite dinner?
I'm partial to a nice eggplant parmigiana.
How much rage went in to your first book?
A pretty decent amount. It took my daughter upwards of 2 hours to fall asleep. You lie there and your night vanishes and you love your kid to death but you're like REALLY? REALLY? I NEED TO TALK TO ANOTHER ADULT!
How does writing a parody children's book compare to more serious work? Do things like writer's block and frustration still apply?
No, because they're written in quick bursts - an hour each for GTFTS and YHTFE, roughly. There's editing afterward, of course, but it's not the same long haul that a novel is, nor the same level complexity or character development.
Do you think there's a lot of kids out there trying to use GTFTS for BOOK IT? I'd like to think there are. Personal pan pizzas for all!
That is a terrifying and yet hilarious thought.
Least favorite "classic" hip-hop album? (Besides the Cypress Hill album of course.)
I fux with the first Cypress LP. Hmm. As a grown man who isn't a misgynist, I have no use for Efil4zaggin these days.
Have you ever actually read the book to your daughter in an attempt to get her to fall asleep?
Not in an attempt to get her to fall asleep, but in an attempt to convey to her why we live in a house rather than a discarded refrigerator carton.
I bought this for my niece's 2nd birthday, here's a picture of my grandfather reading it intently! Her parents were impressed by how accurately it captured her age! Did the book mirror your experiences of having a child?
It got many laughs from the family, thank you!
That is awesome.
And yes, it certainly does. That's my personal interior monologue.. except more rhymey.
What is your favorite dinosaur?
Also, thanks for making these books! Go the Fuck to sleep was great! Giant pangolins of Madagascar!
I tend to favor Megalodon, a prehistorical shark the size of a school bus who some people believe is still alive and prowling the ocean's extreme depths.
Was your book widely accepted or did it take some convincing to get people to think it was a good idea? Thanks for doing this AMA!
When it was published, it was widely accepted. Convincing a publisher to take a chance on it was harder, because nothing like it had ever been done, so there was no way to gauge whether anyone but us would find it funny. Luckily, it turned out to be a pretty universal sentiment.
How much did the sheer genius of Evan B influence you as a kid and how has it impacted your every day life?
I have a shrine to him in my massive wine cellar, right next to the blue Mad Dog 20/20.
How did you feel when Sam Jackson read your book out loud?
I was astounded. It was about 20 minutes before we did a launch event at the Ny Public Library - where I heard Werner Herzog's version for the first time. All in all, a pretty great hour.
Love both the books. Got plans for a third, if so what subject do you plan on covering?
It depends what kind of shit my kid gets into in the next few years. She's six now, so we'll see what the future holds...
Aside from these books, which of your works are you most proud of?
I'm really proud of my novels, especially THE END OF THE JEWS, which is about several generations of a Jewish family of artists, and RAGE IS BACK, which is kind of a magic realist graffiti revenge novel.
Oh, and my daughter. I'm really proud of her.
What is your favorite soup?
It's hard to beat a really good French Onion. Or a really good matzo ball.
Will there be a sequel to DEAD RUN?
Yes! I just finished it. It's called THE DEVIL'S BAG MAN and it will be out early(ish) next year.