"…as much as I would like to have thought that I was the compassionate never-ending reservoir of love and goodwill, it hit a block about 4 or 5 months into it." (>>)
"We are the richest people ever to walk the face of the earth. Period. Yet, most of us live as though there is nothing terribly wrong in the world. We attend our kids' soccer games, pursue our careers, and take beach vacations while 40 percent of the world's inhabitants struggle just to eat every day. And in our own backyards, the homeless, those residing in ghettos, and a wave of immigrants live in a world outside the economic and social mainstream of North America." (>>)
"I know trust is obvious, but despite it's obviousness it's rare. Cliches are often cliches because they're true (which is a cliche about cliches). They're easy to dismiss because they're well worn, but that's a mistake. Love and happiness are rare, despite the popularity of those words. We like to believe what we need is a huge breakthrough, a grand idea we've never heard before. This is a mistake. Knowing and doing are far apart." (>>)
"Dixon tells Jane that he wants to demonstrate the futility of Evil. Was that your goal as well?
"For me, Bad Monkeys is more about demonstrating the glamour of evil. Just as the novel tells you up front what the white room is, Jane tells you repeatedly what she is–but the way that she does it causes you to continuously draw the wrong conclusion. Jane lies, and you know she lies, but still you trust her. She kills, and steals, and commits other wicked acts, and yet despite this mountain of evidence you believe that she's really a good person at heart. She tells you that she's a bad seed, and instead of backing away you drop your guard. That's the glamour of evil.
"Do you like Jane?
"Of course I like Jane. I like Tony Soprano and Hannible Lector, too. But liking someone doesn't change what they are. They key to dispelling the glamour of evil is to not confuse charisma with virtue.
"Your author bio says that you received 'an interesting moral education' from your parents. Could you elaborate?"
"My parents were both good people, and I was lucky to have known them, but because they came from such different backgrounds, their approach to moral issues was very different as well.
"Dad started out as a pastor and later became a chaplain, both jobs that involve a lot of counseling, so he was a good listener and a sharp psychologist. He had definite opinions about right and wrong, and wasn't afraid to share them, but at the same time he wasn't particularly concerned with getting people to agree with him. If you had a problem you were struggling with, he'd give you his advice, and then it was up to you to decide what to do.
"Mom came from a missionary family. Missionaries do care whether you agree with them–getting you to agree, or at least bob your head enthusiastically, is item number one on their list of career goals. So Mom's way of dealing with moral questions was a lot more combative, and because she was the moral enforcer in our house, I didn't always appreciate it.
"With hindsight, I can see merit in both approaches. For working through complex issues, I still prefer my father's low-key, thoughtful style. But when I need to draw a line and say, 'OK, debate's over, this is where I stand,' that's where my mother's style comes into its own." (>>)
"In the early days of his career, Tucker had collected stories of musicians' bad behavior as if they were baseball cards. They fascinated
him not because he wanted to emulate the musicians concerned, but because he was a moralist, and the stories were so unambiguously appalling that they served as a useful piloting guide: in his line of work, it didn't take much to gain a reputation as a decent human being. As long as you didn't hurl a girl out of a window when you'd finished with her, people thought you were Gandhi.
"He'd even gotten into fights a couple of times, in a pompous attempt to protect somebody's honor — a girl, a roadie, a motel receptionist. Once, when he'd punched the obnoxious bassist of an indie-rock band that ended up filling stadiums, he was asked who'd died and made him fucking king.
"The question was rhetorical, of course, but he'd ended up thinking about it. Why couldn't he let these young men behave like young men? Musicians had been assholes since the day the lute was invented, so what did he think he was going to achieve by pushing a couple around when they'd had a drink?
"For a while, he blamed the kind of novels he read, and he blamed the decency of his parents, and he blamed his brother, who had managed to kill himself by driving into a wall when he was drunk. Books and parents and a tragic fuckup brother, he felt, had given him a solid ethical grounding.
"He could see now that he'd always been heading for a fall. It turned out he was the kind of moralist who abhorred the behavior of others because he was so scared of his own weakness; the more he whipped himself into a frenzy of disapproval, the harder it would be to cave in without losing face.
"He was certainly right to be afraid. When he met Julie Beatty, he discovered there wasn't very much to him aside from weakness." (>>)