Live

Watch CBSN Live

More Quirky Folks From Kinky Friedman

Country singer-turned-writer Kinky Friedman is best known for his detective stories, including his New York Times bestseller, "Roadkill."

But, his 17th novel, "Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned," is a departure from his mystery-with-humor genre. However, fans should have no fear because the new book is still chock-full of the Kinkster's quirky, signature off-the-wall characters.

Kinky Friedman visited The Saturday Early Show to discuss his new book.

In "Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned," writer Walter Snow hasn't been able to type a word of his new book for seven years. He's trying to follow up on his mildly successful book, "The Rise and Fall Of Nothing At All," with little success because he has expertise in - nothing.

In the book, the self-involved, self-analytical writer-in-crisis tries to find the meaning of life when he befriends two crazy strangers, all while dealing with a drinking problem.

Friedman first gained notoriety as part of the country band, Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys. The output of the band was outrageous and sometimes offensive - a combination that got them in more then enough trouble. Songs like "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" and the tongue-in-cheek, anti-feminist ode, "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed" weren't popular with everyone, to say the least. And if they were meant to shock, the songs did their job well.

In his first book, "Roadkill," Kinky Friedman plays himself - a foul-mouthed, wise-cracking country singer turned private eye, who joins his old pal Willie Nelson on tour. The book did well and led to him writing many more books that revolved around his Kinky character.

Friedman lives in the Texas Hill country with one cat, four dogs and a pet armadillo. He is also a columnist for Texas Monthly magazine.

Here is an excerpt from Kinky Friedman's latest, "Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned ":

Chapter One

There are two good things about living in a basement apartment. The first is that you can't kill yourself by jumping out the window. The second, and this is an important one, is that whatever you do and wherever you go, you know you're always going to be on the way up. The bad thing, I suppose, is a matter of your point of view. All you ever see are people's feet walking by in the rain. Unless, of course, the sun is shining. You can't always tell, however, when you live in a basement apartment.

I suppose I ought to introduce myself. My name is Walter Snow and you probably never heard of me, which is not an especially good thing because I like to think of myself as a novelist. In fact, for the past few years I've been working on a project I half-tragically refer to as The Great Armenian Novel. I am not Armenian, though I once had an Armenian girlfriend, which at least qualifies me to write about what I know. Unfortunately, for years I hadn't written one word of the book. I suffered from writer's block. Or spiritual constipation. Or whatever you want to call it. And there is nothing worse in this or any other world than staring down at a blank piece of paper and realizing that it's as empty as your life.

All this, of course, was before I met Clyde Potts at the bank, and before she introduced me to Fox Harris. Even after all that has happened, I still think of both of them with a smile. I'm looking at that smile right now in the bathroom mirror. It looks a bit ragged, maybe a bit confused, but it's there all right. It lacks the innocence of a small boy at Christmas, and is probably a little closer to the sick, sweet, evil smile of the serial killer, redolent of charm and danger. But it is a fucking smile -- and they say if you smile when you think of people who are gone, you loved them.

But let me redirect the conversation back to myself for a moment. I am a published novelist. Seven years ago I wrote a mildly successful, quirky little book about a man coming of age in a New Jersey nursing home. It was entitled The Rise and Fall of Nothing at All and its publication killed just enough trees to keep me in Camel filters and a basement apartment for seven years, which is saying something in today's market. But now I've moved from looking in the mirror to looking at the blank page again and I don't know which is worse. Both seem to somehow relate to those soulless attenuated feet that keep sliding silently by my window in the rain.

It's a dark and stormy day today and if you don't live in New York you might call it gloomy but if you do, you get used to it and a few other things. The only spot of color is provided by Fox's tropical fish, of which, I suppose, I am now the guardian. I don't know much about tropical fish except that bad things always seem to happen to their original owners. They're not too good for spiritually constipated novelists to have around either. They keep diverting your attention when you're busy staring at a blank page. But they're crazy and colorful, just like Fox: you never know what they're thinking, or if they're thinking. Also, they kind of hypnotize you if you look at them long enough. The bubbling sound takes a little while to get used to, but once you do, it blends right in with the sirens and the car alarms and the occasional junkie on the sidewalk shouting scripture. I haven't bonded with these fish, of course, and I don't think I'm likely to. But I intend to take good care of them. Sometimes late at night when I watch them swimming around in their aquarium I forget I'm in a basement apartment in New York City. At those times I think of the fish as little pieces of Fox's soul and the world seems like a bigger and brighter place. It almost feels good to be alive.

When I stop to reflect upon it, it was probably Fox and Clyde who deserve the credit, for better or worse, for knocking me off the wagon forever. Before that morning, when I first met Clyde at the bank, I'd had almost six and a half years of sobriety. I attended a secular rosary chain of AA meetings where I declared to the brainwashed and the unwashed of the world that my name was Walter and that I was an Alcoholic. My life had become an endless series of tableaus in which I would hold a Styrofoam cup of bad coffee -- I never found out if the cup was half full or half empty -- smoke an endless caravan of Camel filters and provide an ever-changing army of supportive strangers with my standard three minutes of superficial charm. If I had to talk to the same individual for much longer than three minutes, I could actually see the lines of ennui forming on his or her face and the undeniable presence of pity in his or her eyes. Speaking of his or her, I discovered that, as an alcoholic nondrinking nonwriting writer, I could extract more natural empathy from men than from women.

That, of course, was before I met Clyde at the bank.

I remember that morning surprisingly well, considering everything that's happened since. It was only about nine months ago but already it feels like two lifetimes interwoven like the careless arms of doomed lovers: the sweet, grievous lifetime of the saint mingling with the pregnant, existential lifetime of the sinner ...

The foregoing is excerpted from Kill Two Birds & Get Stoned by Kinky Friedman. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022