Friday, November 30, 2012

Q-and-A with Anonymous, author of 'Diary of an Oxygen Thief' — and East Village resident

"Diary of an Oxygen Thief" was a darkly humorous, self-published autobiographical novel from 2006 about a philandering advertising executive who was also your basic alcoholic and misogynist.

Anonymous is back with "Chameleon On A Kaleidoscope," a sequel of sorts in which the protagonist returns, though this time he is finding his thrills as an online sex addict.
The book, released earlier in the year on Kindle, is available as a hard copy starting next week. (Find more information about both books here.)

Turns out that Anonymous lives in the neighborhood. So via email, we asked Anonymous a few questions about the new novel, self-publishing and life in the East Village.

While writing "Diary of an Oxygen Thief," were you already looking ahead to a second novel picking up where this one left off?

My original intention was to write a book that felt like somebody’s diary. I wanted to give the reader the impression they were eavesdropping. But of course a diary has no finite ending and so it became obvious that there would be a second. That’s when "Chameleon On a Kaleidoscope was born. And now I’m already working on a third in the series; a prequel to "Diary Of An Oxygen Thief." Collectively they’re known as "The Oxygen Thief Diaries."

As a writer, do you envision continuing to remain Anonymous?

Being anonymous is part of the story. I love that there’s no cheesey photo on the backcover and that we don’t have to hear about how the writer lives in Connecticut or San Francisco or Brooklyn or wherever with his two dogs and a cat. Fuck all that. In this case the story is the hero.

Also writing anonymously allows me to inhabit the reader more effectively. Because we can’t Google anyone we’re forced to make up our own minds about what’s happening in the narrative. It actually makes for a more satisfying experience.

What is your top advice for someone considering self-publishing his or her work?

My best advice to a self-published writer is to try to say something that established publishers can’t or won’t. This way your content and marketing merge into one.

How long have you lived in the East Village?

I’ve lived here altogether now for about 10 years — with a break of three years when I moved to Amsterdam. Mostly I love it. I’ve always wanted to live here and I‘m very lucky to have found a rent-controlled building that welcome the likes of me. The area around Tompkins Square is my favorite place in the world. The Helmholtzplatz in Berlin is a close second but only because it reminds me so much of Tompkins Square Park.

Do you have a favorite place to write here? Are you able to accomplish much sitting at, say, a café or a library?

I’m not sure I’m socially equipped to sit in a cafe these days. And I don’t just mean emotionally. Mind you it might just be laptop-envy on my part. But when I do venture out, one of my favorite places is Café Pick Me Up on Avenue A and 9th Street. Perfect for people-watching or more honestly, girl-watching.

Most of my writing is extracted in private in a darkened corner of my fur-lined lair. In fact, writer seems far too pleasant a verb to describe what I do; word-worrier is more accurate.

Do you think the East Village provides a nurturing/creative atmosphere for artistic endeavors? Do you find inspiration here?

The East Village as a neighborhood and my building in particular have been hugely influential in my being able to write fulltime. I’m lucky enough to live in a rent-controlled HDFC that welcomes only artistic tenants so that’s certainly a nurturing environment and since a local woman was murdered in my apartment it came with inspiration ensuite. I can’t wait to write that story.

But let me answer the unasked question here. Yes. The East Village is still cool! I like to tease people from Park Slope and Williamsburg and Bushwick by saying I live a block away from Tompkins Square in West Brooklyn and let them figure it out.


Anonymous said...

I disagree, I don't think the EV is cool any more. I mean there might be pockets of resistance here or there, but that is true of almost anywhere. On the whole, no.

Anonymous said...

"...and since a local woman was murdered in my apartment it came with inspiration ensuite. I can’t wait to write that story."

Okay. Writer and self-published and artists in the East Village. Yeah, I get it. And I can assume from the subject matter that this author is probably into being controversial. But could someone please tell me how this statement isn't just as(if not more)self-absorbed or anti-community than anything the awful 20-something, Midwestern, frat-boy, iphone zombie, cocktail bar wooing "yunnie" stereotype always so (un)popular around here is constantly documented as doing?

Really don't mean to attack, and maybe I'm reading it wrong or it was just a throwaway remark that didn't have too much behind it to get mad about. But that just rang so strangely after reading it that I had to say something. The biggest problem with the entitled frat crowd is the lack of respect for community being shoveled into the neighborhood. This seems to be nothing less than that. Glad to have creative people around, but glorifying horrible violence in such a flippant way is pretty dumb.


Fantastic cover art!

Eden Bee said...

Good book and super sweet person. I would definitely not lump the author in with a "frat crowd." Hee! He is a funny, unique and charming guy. cant wait to read the sequel!

Anonymous said...

The East Village has NEVER been cool, but at least it used to be interesting.

Unknown said...

I really want to buy this book but on Amazon it cost $130 or more and it isn't in book stores anymore

Holly Hood said...

I just read this book and come to find out the author could be my neighbor, I will be on the lookout for an Irish guy, unfortunately not at the now closed pick me up cafe.

Anonymous said...

u can buy the book on his website:

Anonymous said...

I am a freelance graphic designer currently writing my own autobiography inspired by this book. I am currently rereading diary of an oxygen thief for the 3rd time since I gotten it as an Easter gift from a family member who knee I was having a hard time finding a copy. Now I am desperate to hear from this author. It is currently on my bucket list to meet this writer. I can be contacted by email at

Anonymous said...

I bought my copy of diary of an oxygen Theif st barnes and nobles