Peter Lovenheim is a journalist based in Rochester, N.Y. His book In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time, won Zócalo’s first annual book prize. Before taking the stage to discuss his book and the importance of neighbors, he sat down for our In The Green Room Q&A.
Q. What is the best advice you ever received?
A. It’s an aphorism. Character is what you do on the second, third and fourth try. It’s good for writers.
Q. What is your dessert of choice?
A. I like almost all of them. Except tiramisu; I don’t like that.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure?
A. Wasting time. I’m very good at it. Avoiding writing by cleaning the house, overeating, taking unnecessary walks.
Q. What would we find you doing at 10 am on a typical Saturday?
A. I’d be working on the New York Times Saturday crossword puzzle.
Q. What would you do with a million extra dollars?
A. I wouldn’t do a lot different than I’m doing now. Teaching and writing is just the best combination I can think of.
Q. What is the last song that got stuck in your head?
A. I almost got through the last Christmas holidays without getting “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.” I almost made it, until I think Christmas Eve it was on the radio, and it was in my head almost through New Year’s.
Q. What would you eat for your last meal?
A. I like my breakfasts. Granola, yogurt, real boomer ‘60s breakfasts. With a banana.
Q. What was the last great book you read?
A. I’m reading Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, and I’m liking that a lot. And a book by David Grossman called To the End of the Land, which is lovely.
Q. If you had a different profession in another life, what would it be?
A. I think I’d enjoy being a comedy writer for television.
Q. What time do you start working in the morning?
A. It depends if I’m writing. Then I’m avoiding it as long as possible; sometimes I can make it until noon.
Q. How long can you go without checking your email?
A. It could be 10 minutes, sometimes I can stretch it out to a couple hours.
To read more about Peter’s lecture, click here.
*Photo by Aaron Salcido.