Rail: Well, your smoking habit reminds me of Zeno, protagonist in Italo Svevo’s who remembers, just like you, the first time he smoked a cigarette as a child. Generally, people want you to think once you’ve quit it’s like you never smoked ever, but that’s not true. I think writing for me has always been a matter of fear. I am afraid of writing and then I’m afraid of not writing.
Lebowitz: As you can imagine someone gave me that book for the same reason, and I read it years ago. I mean you may have forgotten you did it, but your body remembers. Friedländer said, “It’s easier to change your worldview than the way you hold your spoon.” Lebowitz: That’s true. I also don’t think I take things as seriously as I did then. Also, I don’t know how to type, so the second I finished writing my essay by hand I would call my friend, Marc Balet, who was then the art director of , because he knew how to type.
I mean, you were expelled from school for, as you referred to it, “nonspecific surliness,” and never went to college.
Instead, you went to New York when you were 18 in 1968, which was the most intense, exciting time in New York, because it was the height of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and second-wave feminism, among other things.
I was at the movies with a girlfriend of mine, whom I am still friends with.
If you never smoked a cigarette, you’d never want a cigarette. If you never took a drink of alcohol, you’d never want it. I don’t know any other smokers who didn’t try to quit.
Rail: Perhaps your upbringing was conventional, but your story was not.I remember when I moved out of the hotel I basically lived on the floors of my friends’ apartments. Lebowitz: It was on West 4th Street, between Gay and 12th.I would even go to Boston and sleep on the floor in the dormitory of a few friends from high school who were going to college in Boston. The apartment was tiny, and the rent was 1.78 a month, which was four times as much than the ones in the East Village.Fran Lebowitz and I met several years ago at a lively dinner at the home of our mutual friends, painters David Novros and Joanna Pousette-Dart. ” And I just said, “Yes”—I hadn’t even thought about it. I really don’t believe in the theory of genetic addictions, that you’re either born an addict or you’re not.While we’ve occasionally ended up smoking outside of one social function or another, I had never had the opportunity to sit down and have a lengthy conversation with Fran about her life and work until Eugenie Dalland, editor of when you spoke of a woman behind the counter at 3 a.m. I don’t happen to think that food or sex are addictions, because they both are natural desires.