The Burdens of Being the FOUND Guy

Isthmus | October 13, 2005
Davy Rothbart Q&A

The creator of FOUND magazine, Davy Rothbart is also a contributor to National Public Radio’s This American Life and the author of The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas, a collection of his short fiction. In an email interview that is as wide-ranging as it is brief, he addresses new publishing formats, the burdens and benefits of being the FOUND guy and the shortcomings of The New Yorker's caricature of him.

Q: Lone Surfer is available in paperback and by download in Adobe Reader and Microsoft Reader. Why not hardcover? Are there any formats to which you are averse?

ROTHBART: Simon & Schuster also wanted to publish the book on toilet-paper rolls as part of this new Bathroom Reading series they're starting. I vetoed the idea.

Q: How, when and where do you prefer to write, and how do you fit writing in among all the other demands that come with being Davy Rothbart?

ROTHBART: Ah, yes, the demands that come with being Davy Rothbart are intense. Every night I'm expected to booze it up, play pool til I get sloppy, start fights, and then hang out outside the all-night diner til someone I know comes by and I can hit them up for enough change to buy toast. With this kind of schedule, I've actually taken on some young eighth-grade interns to help me with the writing. They're completing my first novel right now, and from what I've read of it so far, it's gonna be mindblowing.

Q: You’ve been caricatured in The New Yorker. What did you think of the likeness?

ROTHBART: It was pretty cool. But I wish they'd got one of those X-Men illustrators to do it instead; I mean, give me some muscles, give me some -- bulk -- you know!

Q: In terms of capturing or cultivating an audience for your fiction, is your association with FOUND (as a cultural phenomenon) more of a help or a hindrance? What kind of ramifications -- benefits and consequences -- come with being known as the FOUND guy?

ROTHBART: It helped get my stories published at a time when very few story collections are put into print.

Q: What comes after Lone Surfer? Is there another short story collection in the works? A novel?

ROTHBART: I'm going to write a novel that's a love story, and also involves a young FOUND subscriber from Kansas City named Byron Case who is in jail for life for a murder he may or may not have committed.

Q: What was the last book that you read that you would recommend, and why would you recommend it?

ROTHBART: The Combination by Ashley Nelson, and Between Piety and Desire by Sam and Arlet Wylie. These are high-school kids from New Orleans, students of my friend Abram Himelstein, who have written incredible books about their neighborhoods as part of the Neighborhood Story Project. Very funny, and riveting books. See for more!

Q: Do you have any tattoos?

ROTHBART: One huge one across my chest that says THUG LIFE.


Isthmus is Madison, Wisconsin's alternative newspaper. Since 1976, Isthmus has built a foundation of fearless reporting, forthright opinion, excellent arts coverage, and innovative perspective. These efforts have been rewarded by numerous sources including the Milwaukee Press Club's statewide Excellence in...
More »
Contact for Reprint Rights
  • Market Served: Metropolitan Area
  • Address: 100 State Street, Suite 301, Madison, WI 53703
  • Phone: (608) 251-5627