Devil in the Details: Virtual Book Tour

13th December 2004

So, I’ve told you before that my friend Jennifer Traig just wrote a very amusing book called Devil in the Details — my favorite excerpts are here. Today is her virtual book tour, and because this site is totally virtual, and because Jenny’s book is amusing and deserves to be very successful (buy it!), I’m posting a brief interview with her.

I met Jenny at 826 Valencia, where we both volunteer. She was wearing a suede skirt with a colorful, yet tasteful, suede village affixed to the front. She has great big hair and great big eyes, and a little tiny voice.

MG: I had no idea you that you suffered from OCD until I read the book. Has it been strange telling the world?

JT: Oh, heavens yes. I wonder what I was thinking almost every day. It�s very odd knowing that people are watching me for little obsessive-compulsive quirks now, even though I�m pretty much all better. I�m very self-conscious about what I do with my hands in public these days — does it look like I�m washing too often? Will people think I�m trying to avoid touching something? But ultimately, I�m not really embarrassed about it. OCD is a disease like diabetes or any other and there�s no shame in it. Though needing to tap doorknobs is slightly weirder than needing to inject insulin.

MG: How has your family reacted to having their lives on display?

JT: They�ve been amazingly good sports. Really, unbelievably great. At one reading they all sat on stage with me and then offered a rebuttal. I keep saying I�m going to get them great holiday presents this year to thank them. I better pony up.

My sister, meanwhile, has her own book coming out in February. You can see a preview here.

MG: How did you manage to get your OCD under

JT: My senior year of high school was spent in pretty intensive therapy. This was before drugs like Prozac that would have made the process much easier, but I got better anyway. By the time I started college I was ready to let go of the few little compulsions I still had.

I thought I was completely cured until I started doing the research for this book. It turns out that some of my charming little habits, like needing to walk on the left side, aren�t charming habits but compulsive behaviors, little remnants of the disease. They don�t really impact my quality of life, though, so I let them go untreated.

MG: How did you learn to laugh at your idiosyncrasies?

JT: I took myself pretty seriously at my obsessive-compulsive worst, but even then I�d sometimes make a joke at my own expense if I thought it would get me out of trouble. That was sort of how things worked in our family: A great one-liner would really mitigate any parental discipline. Then as I got older and healthier it started seeming funnier and funnier. Paper towels on my head? Oh, yes, I could see the humor in that.

MG: Tell a story about one of your readings.

JT: There have been a few funny ones, like when a whole high school class came for extra-credit and I had to sign everyone�s homework to prove they�d attended. But the strangest one — and I think you may have been there — was when this lady, who clearly hadn�t heard of me or my book, kept charging the podium to have one-on-one discussions with me in the middle of my reading. It was very odd.

MG: You’ve written a memoir in your 30s. Where do you go from here?

JT: Oh, there are a whole bunch more things wrong with me. I�ve got plenty of embarrassing conditions left to write about. Next up: skin rashes!

MG: So, would you like people to buy your book?

JT: Yes, I would like people to buy my book.

You heard the lady, friends. Amazon beckons.

(Thanks to very organized Kevin Smokler for putting all this together.)