Was This Man a Genius?
Talks with Andy Kaufman
By Julie Hecht
(Random House, Hardcover, 9780375504570, 192pp.)
Publication Date: April 17, 2001
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Just as Andy Kaufman subverted traditional forms of comedy, so Julie Hecht, with her distinctive brand of wry humor, successfully subverts the traditional form of wry humor, successfully subverts the traditional form of the interview. During 1978 and 1979, Hecht negotiated and met with Kaufman, following him from an appearance at his old high school to his now-legendary Carnegie Hall performance. The author stood her ground in all kinds of ludicrous situations, waiting for the appearance of Kaufman’s real self, as it that self were some kind of Godot. Her determination and writing talent enabled her to uncover the truth behind many of the stories Kaufman made up for the press, and behind his sometimes poignant artistic aspirations. This is a book of bizarre meetings and often hilarious conversations between a great comedian (who hated to be called that) and his perfect foil — a writer of short stories who found the story of Andy Kaufman’s life to be stranger than fiction. It will entertain and enlighten the many fans of both the performer and the author, and through its surprising dialogue and surreal encounters it will shed light on the evolution of postmodern culture.
Julie Hecht was born in Manhattan. She is the author of Do the Windows Open?, a collection of stories, all of which appeared in The New Yorker. Her stories have also been published in Harper’s, and she has won and O. Henry Prize. In 1998 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives on the east end of Long Island in the winter and in Massachusetts in the summer.
“Kaufman may have met his match." --The New York Times
“Fascinatingly loopy . . . . a one-of-a-kind close-up of the brilliantly nutty entertainer.” --Elle
"A revelation . . . the journey is as rewarding as the destination."
“Sad, canny funny rambles you don't want to end . . . . Hecht creates comedy, like Buster Keaton's, of forbearance. " --The Washington Post