"From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant" by Alex Gilvarry

Beowulf Sheehan,Penguin Publishing

From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, Alex Gilvarry
Penguin Publishing, Beowulf Sheehan

Jeff Glor talks to Alex Gilvarry about his satirical novel, "From The Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant."

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Alex Gilvarry: I was twenty and living in New York City in 2001. During the months after September 11, I'd get stopped in the subway on my way to Hunter College and have my backpack searched, which many of us had to endure. It was that moment of being suspect that always stuck in my mind. As the years passed, I became obsessed with stories I read in the news of men in detention "enemy combatants" mistakenly placed in captivity. I began to wonder, how could one be mistaken for the worst of the worst and locked away indefinitely? I felt a deep urge to weigh in on the matter. So I began a novel about a man who comes to New York City in 2002 and is soon mistaken for a terrorist, or as he becomes known in the book, the Fashion Terrorist. He happens to be a fashion designer. Did I mention this is a satire?


JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?

AG: That I could make myself laugh, actually physically laugh, while writing. A lot of novels that are deemed funny are really just clever, and don't actually set off laughter. In this book, because of the tone I wanted -- somewhere between Woody Allen and Joseph Heller -- I wrote a lot of one-liners and jokes that would make me laugh out loud. So I knew my own reaction was the right one to have while I was alone in a room for hours upon hours. In my next book I'm trying to make myself cry, which is much much harder for me.


JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

AG: I'd like to be a chef. I like to cook because it's the only time I'm not thinking about myself. And like good writing, you can please people with a well-executed meal.


JG: What else are you reading right now?

AG: I'm reading "The Operators" by Michael Hastings. It's a brilliant, all-access pass into the world of generals and the war in Afghanistan through the eyes of a Rolling Stone reporter. Also "The Family Meal" by Ferran Adria. I never got to eat at the legendary elBulli, so this is the closest I'll ever come.


JG: What's next for you?

AG: I'm writing a novel about a war correspondent who loses his mojo and places himself in imminent danger to get it back. A lot of it takes place in italics, though that's subject to change.


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  • Jeff Glor

    Jeff Glor was named anchor of the Sunday edition of the "CBS Evening News" in January 2012 and Special Correspondent for "CBS This Morning" in November 2011.

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