Founder of Vol. 1 Brooklyn and co-creator (with BOMB Magazine’s Ryan Chapman) of the epic book world party, The Mingle, sometimes it seems that Jason Diamond is everywhere in literary Brooklyn—and that’s a good thing. Keep an eye out for his new book, Searching for John Hughes, out this November.
Tell me about the founding of Vol. 1 Brooklyn. What about Vol. 1 are you most proud?
I was really just writing about music at the time because it was the only avenue where I could find any sort of work as a writer. This was maybe 2007ish. And while I love music, I really wanted to write about books and the people that wrote them, but I didn’t know how to get books from publishers or any editors that would assign me anything so I couldn’t build clips.
Since I’d grown up in the punk scene, I’ve always had this attitude where if you want to see something happen then the best way to go about it is to do it yourself. So I took that philosophy and started a blog where I just wrote short things about stories in the New Yorker or weird things I read that authors did, and then figured I had enough to start bothering publicists with and the free books rust started flowing in. The same thing goes with readings, really. I think there are some really great readings out there (Penina Roth, for example, is a saint—an Orthodox Jewish saint), but the reason people make fun of readings for being so boring and stuffy is because most of them are either boring and stuffy or put together without much thought. So I decided to just start putting on readings I thought I’d want to attend, and if it sucked then nobody would show up. That would be a signal that I should give up. But more people kept coming! I’m super proud of that. It’s an amazing thing to see so many people still reacting to the things we do because we really enjoy doing it is something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Also being able to work with my good friend Tobias Carroll, who edits the site on a daily basis, has been a really great experience. I think we’ve been working together five years and it’s a pretty great partnership.
Tell me about your new book! What has the experience of writing it been like? What do you hope it will add to the broader discourse about John Hughes?
It has been a whole lot. Something I’ve learned is that you should never go into writing a memoir unless you are totally mentally prepared because it will haunt you for a long time to come, and even then you might not be totally ready. I had to really deal with a lot of things from my past I haven’t really given much thought to, and then to have to find a way to put it down on paper in a way that people would find it interesting was a challenge unlike any I’ve experienced as a writer.
The book is about my lifelong love of his movies and how we relate to art on a deep and personal level, but I tell people it’s more about failing. I spent over five years trying to write his biography because I felt like he’s been overlooked in a way as a director. I ultimately failed miserably at it, but I still think Hughes isn’t given the proper credit he deserves. Sure, people love the teen movies and Home Alone, but I think it’s because of that deep connection, and the fact that his best-known works are about young people, that he isn’t always considered “serious” to some people. So since his films are so personal and mostly about young people, I like to think that maybe me telling my own story using his work might get people to examine his movies in a deeper way.
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