Rob Roberge is in conversation with Joshua Mohr on Wednesday February 10th at City Lights Books about his acclaimed new book, Liar: A Memoir (published by Crown). He took the time to answer our 5 questions.
Event: Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 7:00PM at City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, CA 94133.
About Liar: When Rob Roberge learns that he’s likely to have developed a progressive memory-eroding disease from years of hard living and frequent concussions, he is terrified by the prospect of becoming a walking shadow. In a desperate attempt to preserve his identity, he sets out to (somewhat faithfully) record the most formative moments of his life—ranging from the brutal murder of his childhood girlfriend, to a diagnosis of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, to opening for famed indie band Yo La Tengo at the Fillmore in San Francisco. But the process of trying to remember his past only exposes just how fragile the stories that lay at the heart of our self-conception really are.
As Liar twists and turns through Roberge’s life, it turns the familiar story of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll on its head. Blackly comic and brutally frank, it offers a remarkable portrait of a down and out existence cobbled together across the country, from musicians’ crashpads around Boston, to seedy bars popular with sideshow freaks in Florida, to a painful moment of reckoning in the scorched Wonder Valley desert of California. As Roberge struggles to keep addiction and mental illness from destroying the good life he has built in his better moments, he is forced to acknowledge the increasingly blurred line between the lies we tell others and the lies we tell ourselves.
“Roberge’s writing is both drop-dead gorgeous and mind-bendingly smart.”—Cheryl Strayed
About the Author: Rob Roberge is the author of four books of fiction, most recently The Cost of Living (2013). He teaches creative writing and his work has been widely anthologized. He also plays guitar and sings with the Los Angeles-based band the Urinals.
City Lights: If you’ve been to City Lights before, what’s your memory of the visit?
Rob Roberge: I made it a point to get to City Lights the first time I was in the city as an adult. My memory of it was that I expected it to be a special experience because of its enormous importance in the literary fabric of America for so long. And it was quite a memorable experience. Later, when I had a piece (very early in my career) taken for a City Lights anthology, I took it as a sign that I had made it in some way.