Colson Whitehead Learned to Drive on the West Side Highway

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Photo: Erin Patrice O'Brien

Name: Colson Whitehead
Age: 39
Neighborhood: Fort Greene
Occupation: Writer. Whitehead will be reading alongside the bands The Walkmen and High Places on Friday at the Guggenheim.


Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Snake Plissken.

What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
I don’t know, but I’ve had some good steaks over the years.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Sit around and think up goofy crap all day.

Would you still live here on a $35,000 salary?
I did it before, I’d do it again if I had to, but I wouldn’t enjoy it.

What's the last thing you saw on Broadway?
That bedroom farce about the guy who dates a lot of stewardesses [Boeing-Boeing]. It had the guy from The West Wing in it.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
Rarely enough that I should probably say no.

What's your drink?
Beer.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
Most of the time.

What's your favorite medication?
A six-pack and a Benadryl.

What's hanging above your sofa?
Some pictures my wife took.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
I’ve never spent more than fifteen bucks, and that was over a decade ago, so I’m not the one to ask.

When's bedtime?
1:30 a.m.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
They are simply two different ways of doing Times Square. If I were a location scout for a movie, the old one. If I wanted a Knicks jersey, the new one.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
Everybody’s gotta make a living.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
Tourists who walk slowly, three abreast.

Who is your mortal enemy?
That guy who invented Crocs.

When's the last time you drove a car?
1986. I took driver’s ed in high school, learned to drive on the West Side Highway, but never bothered to get the license itself.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
Probably would have sold more copies of my last book, but maybe not.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
Times.

Where do you go to be alone?
Under the kitchen sink.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
“You’re a real New Yorker when blah blah … ” I wrote a whole book about it, why don’t you check it out?