Adam Mansbach, Author of Go the Fuck to Sleep, on Imitators: "Stop Ripping My Shit Off"
A taste: "The owls fly forth from the treetops. Through the air, they soar and they sweep. A hot crimson rage fills my heart, love. For real, shut the fuck up and sleep."
In a recent chat with Mansbach, he told us how he has his two-year-old daughter (and Facebook!) to thank for the number-one New York Times bestseller, and how a spate of imitators has him angry enough to, well, write another children's book. Stop Ripping My Shit Off has a nice ring to it.
New Times: How'd you get the idea for this book?
Mansbach: The inspiration was my daughter Vivian, who was two at the time. One night, I spent two hours trying to put her to sleep. Afterwards, I wrote on my Facebook page: "Be on the lookout for my forthcoming children's book, Go the Fuck to Sleep." You know, I was just kidding, I had no intention at all of writing that book. But in writing that post, I knew what that book would sound like and look like. I thought about it for a week or so and then started writing it.
It reminds me of a boiled-down Goodnight Moon.
Yeah. "I want you to go to sleep." The rest is all tactics.
Have you been surprised by the book's amazing sales?
I had no expectations whatsoever. It's a book I wrote really just joking around. The fact that this happened is totally surprising to me. From what parents have told me, it put into words what everybody has thought but not seen in writing. It gave people a sort of permission. The book is very honest. That's why it's successful.
Have you heard from any outraged puritans?
A limited amount. There's always people out there looking for something to get outraged about, and there's always people who can't understand exactly what's going on. There's people who think that this is a children's book. They're like: "I would never read this book to a child." "Yeah, no shit, it says that on the back."
Does Vivian know about the book?
Yeah, Vivian's totally aware of the book. I mean, she watched it happen. She watched the illustrations come in. But as far as she's concerned, the book is called Go to Sleep. If you happen to meet her, tell her that.
Will do. Any plans for a sequel?
Have you considered it?
I'm only going to do a sequel if it's funny. I got lucky with this one. But although there's an existing cannon of bedtime books for me to play off of--you know, I certainly could keep it going with Eat Your Fucking, You Know, Asparagus, but it wouldn't be that funny and I don't want to be that guy who two years from now they're going to be like: Yeah, wow, Go the Fuck to Sleep was funny and then that guy kept publishing stupider books until we all got sick of it.
That would be a sad Wikipedia page.
With that said, we are doing a children's version of the book. A lot of parents say their kids keep grabbing the book off the table, so we're doing a book called Seriously Just Go to Sleep. It's a bigger size, and the verses are re-written, and the illustrations are kind of remixed.
So it's a bit sterner than your average children's book but not obscene.
Have you heard about this book, If You Give a Kid a Cookie, Will He Shut The Fuck Up?
That guy emailed me months ago and asked me to blurb the book. My feeling then was the same as it is now. Like: Give me a fucking break. Stop ripping my shit off. Get your own idea.
Yeah, I think what made your book a hit was the novelty of it. This is a pretty blatant rip-off.
It's a totally blatant rip-off. There are at least three or four others that are equally stupid. You know, it's just depressing. The fact that it's a blatant, thoughtless rip-off is bad enough. The fact that you think it's going to work is also distressing. That never works. It's a rip-off. Nobody ever gives a shit about the rip-off, you know what I mean?
See Mansbach and illustrator Ricardo Cortez at An Evening with... ADULTS!
A.K.A. Parents - Get the F**k Out of the House this Friday at 6 p.m., in the MDC Chapman Conference Center (Building 3, 2nd Floor, Room 3210). Tickets cost $10. Visit miamibookfair.com.
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