Chicago-based author Eden Robins is celebrating the launch of her debut novel this week and came on Finding Favorites to discuss her favorite book - The Neverending Story. When Franny Stands Up will be available on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 and is available for pre-order.
Hi, my name is Eden Robbins, and my favorite thing is the book; ”The Neverending Story”.
Welcome to the Finding Favorites Podcast where we explore your favorite things without using an algorithm. Here's your host, Leah Jones.
Leah Jones 00:19
Hello and welcome to Finding Favorites. I'm your host, Leah Jones. I'm recording this on Saturday night, October 29, 2022. You're listening to it hopefully on Sunday, October 30, 2022. It is the big Halloween going out night in Chicago. And I had all the plans and preparations to hit the legendary Huffine Cooper Halloween party, which if you go back into my archives, I interviewed Cinnamonabout how they host that party and everything that goes into it. And it's one of the best events of the year. And I have been getting stronger and stronger, and then today I pushed it too far. I went to Stretchlab in the morning, I went to a Meijer in the suburbs, I walked around the Meijer twice. I came back to the city. At some point, I went to third Coast comics to see my friend Terry, pick up a couple of books. And then I went to Target to get the last thing I needed for my costume. And as I was walking into the Target, I realized I didn't have my can with me, but that tonight was going to be a night where I wasn't going to be able to go up a flight up-stairs. And maybe not even after I found parking, walk to my friend's apartment. So sadly, I am at home editing a podcast. But I mean not sadly, I enjoy editing. I also interviewed Eden today. I'm talking to Eden Robbins about her debut novel, which is available called “When Franny Stands Up”. Cowboys give me scratches. I had some pizza for dinner, I'm drinking a huge water. So I'm just you know, I'm sad. Because I had wanted to go to this party for months and months really, since September 2020. When I was walking in my neighborhood and cross the street that my friends live on and I was like, “Oh no, there's not going to be a Halloween party this year”. So I'm sorry, I'm sorry, to the Huffine Cooper and to Veronica, for not being there tonight. And I know, I haven't done intros for a couple of episodes. Again, just trying to get back into the groove of editing®recording®editing®publishing. I love this podcast and the conversations that lets me have, but the work to get it out is not insignificant. And I started this podcast when I had 10 extra hours a week because I wasn't commuting and I'm commuting at least six hours a week. I'm going out and I'm seeing friends which is wonderful and I'm doing things other than sleep and go for chemotherapy. So I'm so grateful for how busy my life is. But also it eats into my time. What else is happening this week? I'm starting a whole new regimen of medicine. I'm starting Methotrexate which you've seen in the news because it's one of the drugs that women with arthritis couldn't get once Roe was overturned because you can't sustain a pregnancy when you're on Methotrexate, so I started that this week. I started Tamoxifen, which is as I understand it as estrogen pacman. Because my cancer was ER positive, I started daily folic acid, a weekly vitamin D. It just started a lot this week. I'm dreading most of it with the exception of like the vitamin D because I know, how that helps me. But I'm terrified of the side effects of Methotrexate and Tamoxifen because you can't have positive attitude your way out of adverse reactions to new prescriptions. What else is happening? This has been a fun week for me and my love of podcasts. Tomorrow night is a long awaited live show. How Did This Get Made live show. It'll be my first since March, when I went to LA to celebrate the end of radiation and saw How Did This Get Made a live show the back of the Chicago Theater. I've gone far beyond my typical T-shirt and I have made the most ridiculous essentially meme movie poster. I designed something on Canva and had it printed by a guy in the suburbs on three-foot (3') by six-foot (6’) vinyl. I cut a hole in the top and I'm going as a walking movie poster, but slash meme, I think I'm just taking internet humor too far, way too far. And personal inside jokes because I'm a – look at me girl, I guess pick me girl. But this week was fun. I had made initially; I wasn't going to do a costume. I was just going to wear a shirt that I made of a deep cut inside joke from an episode of home cooking. In this episode of home cooking, Jason Mantzoukas from How Did This Get Made is on the podcast with Hrishikesh Hirway and Samin Nosrat and he brings his CSA box and the mystery of vegetables over to the webcam and says, holds up something and says, “Is this leak and it was fennel!”. So there's a rename-a-greet poster called I believe The Treachery of Images, that has an image of a pipe and underneath engraved paint writing is says; “This is not a pipe” in French, because it is the image of a pipe, therefore it is not a pipe. So I made a T-shirt that has a picture of a leak. And underneath it says this is not a leak. So I made that T-shirt for myself and then I made one for Jason Mantzoukas. And then I found out that Rishi was coming to town with Jenny Owen Young's, who was one of the hosts of the Buffering podcast about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They're musicians and had been writing together for years and they were doing this little mini three city tour. And once I realized that Rishi was coming to town, I was like, well, he's gotta get one of these shirts too. And then I decided it was probably funnier as like a Farmers Market Tote bag. So then I had tote bags made, and at the last minute found out my board meeting was actually later than I thought it would be. So I wrote Rishi a beautiful note that I did not copy edit. So it looks insane. I did print it out because my handwriting is terrible right now. But essentially Rishi is the reason, I do this podcast. When you zoom way out, he is the person who… he and Joshua Malina are alumni of the same university. Rishi is a fan of West Wing so he gets Joshua Malina to do the podcast with him West Wing weekly, which is the podcast that gets me into listening to podcasts. From West Wing weekly, I go to Gilmore Guys with Kevin T. Porter, who has been a guest. On Gilmore Guys, I hear Jason Mantzoukas talk. I go down to Jason Mantzoukas rabbit hole, started listening to How Did This Get Made. From How Did This Get Made, I get to Nicole Byer. And all of her podcasts, I get to the Doughboys Comedy Bang Bang. So this whole world of comedy opens up to me because Rishi loved the West Wing and reached out to Joshua Malina to do a podcast. So I wrote Rishi a note, and I said I am reverse marching you this tote bag joke of that I made based on a podcast you recorded. Because every time I open my CSA box, I look at things and I'm like is this leak?! And it's not too far, I love these podcasts. I am grateful for the relationships with other fans. I'm grateful for the para-social relationships with the hosts. Podcasting is a very intimate medium. I live alone, I listen to podcasts all the time. And so I just wanted to say thank you to Rishi for being the person with really this is not an exaggeration. He is the person who opened the door to podcasting for me. And I did get a DM from him that he liked the tote bags. I give them two tote bags and a T-shirt. And I'm taking the other tote bag to hopefully give to Jason Mantzoukas tomorrow night and also wearing a giant vinyl fake movie poster. Because that's how I do costumes now. I just do memes. I just do bad photoshopped jokes that are funny to me and hopefully the 3000 people at the Chicago theater tomorrow night and hopefully it gets enough attention that I'm able to then deliver. This is not a leak taupe. This is not a leak tote bag to Jason Mantzoukas. So, with all of that said, I hope you're having a good Halloween. I hope it was very fun. And get your booster, get your flu shot, wear your mask, wash your hands and keep enjoying your favorite things.
Leah Jones 11:12
Hello, and welcome to Finding Favorites. I'm your host, Leah Jones. And this is the podcast where we learn about people's favorite things without using an algorithm. I am so pleased today we are having a bizarrely beautiful Halloween weekend in Chicago. So I was out in the suburbs this morning to pick up a very silly piece of a Halloween costume and got a carwash and then was late to my interview this afternoon because traffic was not on my side. But I'm so pleased. I'm here with local author, live lead producer, podcaster Eden Robins. Eden, how're you doing today?
Eden Robins 11:53
Oh, I am hanging in there by the skin of my teeth but hanging in.
Leah Jones 11:57
So this is pub week for you?
Eden Robins 12:01
Three days, I think, it's coming out on Tuesday.
Leah Jones 12:04
Wow! November 1st . Happy Pub Day. So you said this is your third podcast of the day or of the week?
Eden Robins 12:13
Of the week, thankfully. I can't talk that much. That's too much.
Leah Jones 12:19
It is, definitely. Sometimes I listen to podcasters who are that have done three in a day or something. And I'm just like how?
Eden Robins 12:30
I would absolutely run out of things to say, I think my voice would go. It's been really cool that people actually care what I have to say. But it's unusual. It's a lot for me.
Leah Jones 12:43
So your book coming out on Tuesday is, “When Franny Stands Up”. One, I'm obsessed with the cover.
Eden Robins 12:51
Isn't it great?
Leah Jones 12:52
They did such a good job.
Eden Robins 12:54
They did such a good job. Yeah.
Leah Jones 12:57
So why don't you tell folks a little bit about the book?
Eden Robins 13:00
Yeah, absolutely. The very quick elevator pitch is that it's queer, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s jokes on magic. I set out to write a comedy about trauma. Extremely hilarious. And then the longer version is, it takes place in a slightly alternate history when men went off to World War II, male comedians also did. And so standup comedy became a thing that women did. And I did this because I just got so sick of people saying that women aren't funny. Because every woman I know is hilarious. So the female comedians developed a kind of magic that they called a Show Stopper, which is a feeling that they evoke in their audience when the audience laughs and it's different for every comedian. The most famous comedian in the world gives her whole audience an orgasm. And the least famous comedian makes you feel that satisfaction of arriving at the bus stop right when the bus arrives, and then everything in between. The titular Frannie, her brother came back from World War II with PTSD. She is a Jewish girl living in Oak Park. So it's very Chicago centric. And basically, she's dealing with the fallout of her brother coming back. She's dealing with some of her own traumas and ends up falling into the world of standup comedy and trying to figure out, whether she can heal herself and her family and various high jinxes, ensue from there.
Leah Jones 14:38
Wow! I'm excited to read it. It feels like it's Maisel, it sounds like almost mix with a little Water for Chocolate. Where the recipes make people feel things.
Eden Robins 15:00
That's interesting. I hadn't had that comparison. Funny story. So when I wrote the, the rough draft of this book, I finished it and I was like, "whoa… I did it?” And then I went into our sitting room and sat in front of the TV and was like, I'm going to treat myself to this show that I know nothing about. But everybody loves called the marvelous Mrs. Maisel. And I turned it on and was like, are you kidding me?! I couldn't believe it! What are the odds, that this kind of book about a Jewish girl doing standup comedy in the 1950s, came out at the same time. And now people are like, she must have seen the marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I didn't see it. I just let it.
Leah Jones 15:42
I guess, a silver lining of is that the pump is primed. People want to hear things set in that world and that period of time.
Eden Robins 15:53
It makes for kind of a weird book that sort of slides in between genres like, alternate history, fantasy, family drama, comedy. It makes for a nice shorthand to describe it.
Leah Jones 16:08
Wow! So your rough draft was done before Maisel came out, which is five years ago?
Eden Robins 16:16
It was out, but I hadn't seen it or knew anything about it. So the rough draft was done early to mid-2018.
Leah Jones 16:26
That's still pretty early in Maisel years.
Eden Robins 16:28
Definitely. First season.
Leah Jones 16:32
Wow! I know that I think Ines interviewed you about Finding an Agent. So maybe you can send me some links and we'll put in the show notes, some links so people can learn more about your career. From 2018 first Draft to 2022 publishing date, what was some of the things you did to get ready, and to get it out in the world?
Eden Robins 17:02
Well, so it's just a slight bit of back story is that the interview that I did with Ines Ballina, was about Finding an Agent. And actually, I've had an agent for 10 years. And I had a book on submission, we had a near miss, actually; because a small publisher folded after they sent me a contract. And after that, I kind of languished in the desert for a while. I wrote a couple of books that went nowhere. And so when I started this book, I was like, really, I need a win. This business is so hard. And I've been working so hard for so long. So I was trying to think, what would be fun for me? What's something, I'm interested in, that's fun that I know about? I decided to write a book about my family and about Chicago – the city I love, and my Dad and my family is really into comedy humor, Jewish families often are. I decided to write this book for my dad. It just was combining all these things that I was really interested in at the time and it ended up being just a joy to write. So in the aftermath, I tend to get in a little bit of trouble because I don't write in a single genre. I know a lot of people love their genres, whatever. For me, I'm kind of allergic to ideology in general. So I just pick the things that I like, and I like to put them together in unusual ways. So it was a little bit of a struggle. It always is a little bit of a struggle, getting it to a place where people can access it, where it's accessible to readers. So it took a while to finish, it took a while to put it out on submission, and ended up finding an editor who is just so amazing to work with and gets it and I could not have had a better publishing experience, honestly.
Leah Jones 19:06
Amazing! What do your local celebrations look like?
Eden Robins 19:13
Well, on November 3rd , which is next Thursday, I'm having a launch party and I'm really excited. It's going to be at Early 2 Bed, which is a sex toy store in Chicago that I worked at for many years. It is going to be hosted by Women and Children First, which is a feminist bookstore in Chicago. We're going to have a comedian opener. I'm really excited about it. I'm going to be in conversation with Britt Julious, who is amazing. We're going to have a cake with my book cover on it.
Leah Jones 19:49
I mean, that's perfect! What a perfect night.
Eden Robins 19:51
I am really excited about it. On the day it comes out, my husband and I are going to drive around to bookstores and sign some stock and I'm going to get to go to the source books office and I think they have a wall I can sign; I don't know. So it'll be a fun week.
Leah Jones 20:08
So exciting! Early 2 Bed hasn't always been like an Andersonville store, but now it's firmly in Andersonville in their new space.
Eden Robins 20:18
When I started working there, I don't know how much of a Chicago audience you have versus elsewhere audience.
Leah Jones 20:27
I would still describe barely Chicago audience and my mom, who's in Indiana.
Eden Robins 20:30
Hi, mom! The original location of Early 2 Bed was on Sheridan – Foster & Sheridan. Then after that they moved to Andersonville and I worked in that new store for a little bit. And then they just bought a building, so won't have to move again so it's super exciting. I guess, I get to be the first event in the new space, I think.
Leah Jones 20:54
Has the store even moved into the new space?
Eden Robins 20:57
Yeah. I hope so. No, they absolutely have.
Leah Jones 21:01
In 2016, I helped to plan an event for being black at school, which was a new organization at the time. And I remember asking Jasmine, “who's upcoming in the scene who would host a black education event?” She was like, Britt, hands down. So that's when I got to meet her in person.
Eden Robins 21:34
Yeah, she's amazing. I met her through Tuesday Funk, which is the live show that I co-host when there's not a pandemic on.
Leah Jones 21:42
Tuesday Funk is back, right?
Eden Robins 21:45
Well, selfishly, I have this live show and I have a book coming out, so I was like, let's do one show for me. So that's, what we did. Actually this is kind of funny, serendipitously I live in a three flat in Albany Park. In the two other apartments are two other writers. Robbie Q Telfer lives upstairs from me, and Anne K Yoder lives on the third floor. And she and I have books coming out within a month of each other. We're like, we've got to do an Albany Park, Tuesday Funk because here we all are. We're not back for real, but hopefully someday soon.
Leah Jones 22:30
Robbie Telfer did an online poetry workshop for 5959 Schengen, which was wonderful. We had someone who's in his retirement has been working on writing and he took that class. And he has become like, Haikus are his thing now. Poetry and Haiku is now what he's dedicating all of his writing time to and it was all because of this online workshop with Robbie that changed his [Not Audible[00:23:07]].
Leah Jones 23:08
I don’t know. We'll make sure, I know.
Eden Robins 23:10
I'll be sure to tell him. That’s incredible.
Leah Jones 23:12
What a fun! What a fun three flat to be in.
Eden Robins 23:18
It's like a writing retreat but all the time, you pay rent for.
Leah Jones 23:23
When Franny Stands Up comes out on Tuesday, November 1st, people can preorder now. Get on bookshop.org. Pick your favorite local bookstore.
Eden Robins 23:39
I'll also say, this was a real treat. Yesterday, I found out another serendipity situation that I know, the manager of the [Not Understandable [00:23:48]] Barnes and Noble, because he sent me an Instagram DM and was like, did you write a book?! I was like I did! And he's like, oh, we have it at the store do you want to come and sign? Indie is all the way but if for some reason, you want to go to Barnes and Noble, the one on Clyburn has five signed copies, out on their table, right this very minute.
Leah Jones 24:13
It's one of the few Barnes and Nobles left in the city. But also, it's in between backs which has surprisingly good fried chicken sandwiches and the Webster AMC which has recliner seats in their movie theater now.
Eden Robins 24:33
What a dream!
Leah Jones 24:34
I don't spend any time at that intersection ever doing plex in a movie.
Eden Robins 24:39
It sounds like a great day.
Leah Jones 24:41
It's a great day. Well, Eden, I'm so excited for you. I am a former standup comic. Big feelings when Maisel came out. I moved to Chicago to do standup comedy.
Eden Robins 24:57
No kidding. And then you're not doing it anymore.
Leah Jones 25:01
I am not. I'm podcasting.
Eden Robins 25:05
I took a standup class as research for the book with Alex Kumin, who also then I roped into being my consigliere for the comedy in the book. It was super fun, but man, it is hard work. Also, I cannot stay up that late.
Leah Jones 25:40
We are here as always to talk to you about your favorite thing. And your favorite thing is a book that most people know as a movie. What book is that?
Eden Robins 25:52
That book is, “The Neverending Story”.
Leah Jones 25:55
I am today years old when I learned there was a book.
Eden Robins 26:01
On the one hand, I'm so glad to be here to tell you about it. On the other hand, that makes me so sad. Because may be, I'm going to make a bunch of enemies here but the movie is garbage.
Leah Jones 26:14
Eden Robins 26:17
I said it. I mean it. Who else thought the movie was garbage? The guy, who wrote the book. He sued them. He sued the producers. He called the script revolting. He wanted his name removed from the credits. That's how bad, he thought it was.
Leah Jones 26:35
So, he didn't say, he was revolted by it while cashing the cheque.
Eden Robins 26:41
I mean, I assume, he must have cashed the cheque. But they didn't say anything about the cheque. But I know he definitely felt like his trust was betrayed by the movie, that he thought it was in good hands. And then he saw the script and was like, "Oh, no!”
Leah Jones 26:56
Wow! So let’s time travel. Tell me about the first time you picked up the book – The Neverending Story, was it pre or post? Did you see the movie and then find the book? Or did you find the book first?
Eden Robins 27:13
I don't remember because I think, I was about eight. I don't think, I had seen the movie yet. My mom had the book, I think it was for a book club. The book itself is so beautiful, because it is hardcover and the words are printed in red and green ink.
Leah Jones 27:39
The whole book?
Eden Robins 27:13
The whole book. So the real world is red ink and Fantasia which is actually Fantastica is green ink. And there are 26 chapters in the book and they go from A to Z, they are the first letter of each chapter. The book plate has an illustration of what is happening in the chapter. So it has the big letter. This is the one time, I wish this was video, so I could show you.
Leah Jones 28:13
I'll find some images to include in some of the social posts.
Eden Robins 28:18
Oh, great. The first chapter begins with the letter A. There's a big collage of all the stuff that happens in the A chapter and the next chapter is B. So anyway, it's just like a beautiful object. I read it when I was eight. And it has, I think, been my favorite book ever since. I reread it every year, every couple of years. And I'm like, “Yep, still my favorite.”
Leah Jones 28:42
Wow! Is it subsequent like that was a special edition? They've all been printed in that style?
Eden Robins 28:58
They have not all been printed in style. So the first edition was. It went out of print a bunch of times, and then they'd rereleased it, and then it would go out of print again. The original is in red and green and hardcover and then some of the subsequent ones in paperback. The real world, I believe, is in regular print and Fantastica is in italics. So it's actually kind of uncomfortable to read. But most people if they've read the book, they know the paperback version, but I always am like, you got to read the hardcover. In fact, I own four copies of this book. I can tell you what each of these are. I have the original book that my mom gave me when I was eight and it's completely falling apart. And then I have a reprint that came out, I think, in the 90s and that is one that I give out to people to read. And then I have a copy in German which was the original language that it was written in. Then I have a first edition that I found and if it's okay can I tell you the story about this?
Leah Jones 30:10
Yes, of course. That’s why I do this podcast? I'm like, no, please don't tell me the story of how you got a first edition copy of your favorite book. That's too much. That's too much detail.
Eden Robins 30:22
Okay, cool. I won’t tell you. Because this book went out of print, you can't find the hardcover in a regular bookstore unless it's like back in print for some reason. But the original version, obviously, is only you can find it used. And I'm sure these days, you could probably find it on eBay or something. But I had been looking for a first edition copy of this book, since I was15 years old. I would go to used bookstores all the time and I would always look for it, and they would never have it. And then, six years ago, I went to Myopic Books. I went to their children's section, there it was, this is like 25 years! As I had been looking for this book and I just stared at it. I can't believe it. All of this time, I have been looking for this book, every used bookstore I go into I look, and here it is. I just stood there and stared, then I picked it up. I was like, it's probably going to be super expensive. And it was $11!
Leah Jones 31:35
Nope. Did you run out with it feeling like you'd stolen from them?!
Eden Robins 31:39
Pretty much, which is the beginning of the book. It's kind of amazing because the little boy Bastian steals a book at the beginning. But no, I paid for it. But it's this beautiful, it's got the dust jacket and everything. It is one of my most prized possessions this book that took me 25 years to find.
Leah Jones 31:57
That's amazing! Have you read that copy?
Eden Robins 32:03
I don't think that I have. I should, because books are meant to be read. But I just look at it sometimes!
Leah Jones 32:12
Is it a first edition English translation or first edition?
Eden Robins 32:18
Yes. The original came out in German in 1979. And then the English copy came out in 1983. His name is Michael Ende. When I was in high school, I thought that was a made-up person. I was like, the mystery deepens. But no, he was real. He grew up during World War II in Germany. His father was a surrealist artist, who was a degenerate artist, according to the Nazis. He wasn't Jewish, but he was in the thick of this and really, terribly affected by living through the horrors of World War II. So the movie of the book, the one that everybody knows, is only the first half of the book. And it ends weirdly. So the book is really about the rise and fall of a tyrant. It is a child tyrant in this book. This boy, Bastian Balthazar Bux, is made fun of and his dad is kind of neglectful because his mother died, his dad's just elsewhere. And so he's kind of left to his own, kind of trying to figure out how to cope with life. He disappears into this book. I don't want to give anything away, but basically after the movie ends, he goes to Fantastica. And he becomes kind of this celebrity there. It all goes to his head and he becomes this tyrant and then has to kind of find his way back.
Leah Jones 34:15
So the movie doesn't cover the important part?
Eden Robins 34:26
It's about so many things; it's such an unusual book, the way that it slides between fantasy and reality. How strange it is! It's funny, it's sad. I really think, this was a huge book that inspired me to write the kinds of things that I write, that really mixes all of these things together. The book is also about how dangerous it is to get what you want, and how easy it is to lose yourself when you do. It is really just incredible. And every time I read it, I get something else out of it.
Leah Jones 35:08
Wow! Is this a book you come to on an annual reread? Is this a fall book that you'd like to read? Or is it every few years you revisited? Do you revisit chapters versus rereading the whole book?
Eden Robins 35:26
It depends. I don't have a schedule. This sounds really woowoo and I'm sorry about this, but sometimes just feel like it calls to me, and it's time to reread it. It's not on a particular schedule. Just sometimes, it's just time, to do it.
Leah Jones 35:42
Did you read it more as a teen? It's just something you've been rereading and rereading your whole life?
Eden Robins 35:52
It's something, I've been rereading my whole life. I definitely reread it a lot as a teen. I would try to foist it on anybody and this was certain. This was back when it was even harder to find a copy of it, but I would foist it on everybody. It became a condition for being my friend, dating me. It was that kind of teenage intensity. If you really want to know me, you got to know this book! So I'm not like that anymore, I hope. But I still think it's such a wonderful read. And I also just really like to foist books that people might think are childish on adults, because I think we all need to get over ourselves a little bit.
Leah Jones 36:34
I think, The Wizard of Oz is another is an example of that, it seems childish. But when you read it as an adult, it's actually really political. The whole Wizard of Oz series of books are actually very political. And we're seeing a lot there.
Eden Robins 36:49
There's a lot of freedom, I think, in writing for children. There's so much imagination in this book, so many ideas and fantastical elements and because of how it's written. It's like he got to do whatever he wanted. He's like, this interests me now, I'm going to do this is. It’s interesting because it's kind of a 3X structure but really, it's more of a 2x structure. When Bastian is in his real life, and he's in the attic, reading the book, and experiencing the things that are happening vicariously. And then there's the moment where he saves Fantastica and then he goes there. Then all of the things that he does once he's there. Those are the two halves. You gotta read it. I can give my copy.
Leah Jones 37:41
I have to. I wonder how they do? Is there an audiobook version?
Eden Robins 37:44
I don't know.
Leah Jones 37:41
Because I wonder how you would if you would switch narrators?
Eden Robins 37:49
That would be, yeah, you'd have to do something like that.
Leah Jones 37:55
Or not having one in front of me. Is it like Red Sun, Green Sun, red, green?
Eden Robins 38:03
Leah Jones 38:04
Or is it like whole chapters are green, whole chapters are red.
Eden Robins 38:08
Sometimes whole chapters are red, or green and then sometimes, especially in the first half, where he's in the real world and reading the book, he'll be red in the real world and then he'll read the book and it'll be green. Then he'll have some kind of comment to make or thought about what's happening, it'll be red and then we'll go back to green. But it's not every sentence, it's at the most would be a couple paragraphs; alternating.
Leah Jones 38:52
Tell me then about because people will wonder, did you see the movie once and you're like, what is this? This is a bullshit, and never see it again. What's your relationship to the movie?
Eden Robins 39:03
I think when I was a kid, I remember liking it. I learned how to play that theme song on the piano. I'm sure, if you've seen the movie, you know the theme song. And I would play it over and over and over again. So I think, I liked the movie at the time. I don't know, have super strong opinions, angry opinions, when I was a kid. By the time I was a teenager, I was like wait a minute, this doesn't actually tell the story. It's about something completely different. And then there were the two follow up movies. There was never any story to with Jonathan Brandis, may he rest in peace, my teenage crush. There was a third one with, I believe Jack Black. I think so. I haven't watch either of these in decades. But they paid lip service to the second half of the book but they were just so garbagy, it's not even worth. I wouldn't even say they captured remotely what's in the second half of the book. The first movie, it has over the years, I've gotten crankier and crankier about it. Because I just feel, it's got some elements. It's got the Luckdragon, Gmork, he has gotthe wolf, the turtle and all this stuff, but it's not about anything. He makes some friends and then, gets one up on the bullies, I guess. It just didn't capture the magic, it didn't capture the heart of it at all. And so the older I get, the crankier that makes me.
Leah Jones 41:03
And then when along the line, do you realize that the author also hates it?
Eden Robins 41:10
I wanted to research him a little bit and see what his deal was. He wrote a bunch of other books. This one is definitely his most famous, at least in this country. I was just looking him up and I was curious what he thought of the movie. And yeah, he hated it. I don't think it's super unusual for an author to hate the book. It seems he thought it was going in one direction and then it wasn't. Don't quote me on this but I think, it's possible he wrote the initial screenplay and they changed it so much that he was like, well, this isn't even was not it. Then here's the other thing is that the rights for this book, were now tied up in legal limbo forever and ever and ever. Partially because I suspect his estate has really strong feelings about what happens to those rights. And I just heard that I think, there's pre-production for a remake. Now, I can't remember who's tied to this and also secretly, I feel very betrayed. I have always wanted to write the screenplay for a remake of this movie. Or I think it actually could be a great show like a...
Leah Jones 42:36
[Not Audible [42:38]]
Eden Robins 42:39
No, like a TV show. That'd be a crazy broad way show. Just the creatures alone.
Leah Jones 42:49
Can they get you as puppets, kind of Lion King asked maybe?
Eden Robins 42:55
It would be cool as hell. I've always just wanted to write the script for it. And so there was a part of me was hoping maybe someday I could do that. But I don't know anything about it. But apparently, they've got the rights, they're in progress. We'll see what happens.
Leah Jones 43:15
Well, we'll also put it out there, in this podcast, which all the movers and shakers in Hollywood listen to. That you are available for consulting for rewrites. If they're looking at that script and they're like, “actually, it's a trash, we need another go”. Then you are available.
Eden Robins 43:41
I am available, absolutely. Call me, email me, whatever. I'll check my schedule.
Leah Jones 43:49
We'll just put that flair out into the universe.
Eden Robins 43:53
My experience in screenwriting is zero. But I have read this book about 50 times. I think so. And also, I am glad they're remaking it now. Because I think, we have a lot more potential. There's so much more interesting technology that could be used to do service to this that they just didn't have that. So I'm cautiously hopeful.
Leah Jones 44:24
Do you have any dream cast when you think about it? People that you would put in as the Bastion or is there anything you would gender swap? Is there anything you would…?
Eden Robins 44:39
I don't know a lot of child actors. So I don't know. But one thing that's super bothered me about the movie is that the boy who played Bastion was skinny and bastion in the book is fat. And it should be that way. I just thought that was gross. So I would hope that Ivan you could totally gender swap it. I would be super into that, if he was a girl or a non-binary kid. Just as long as they're fat, that's really the only thing that matters for that character. It's weird and gross that it wasn't that way.
Leah Jones 45:20
What about any of the Jack Buck? Any adults or casting that you would want to see in it?
Eden Robins 45:26
There is a terrific, scary sorceress. I haven't thought about this. Who do you think would be a good really intimidating, magical, sorceress person?
Leah Jones 45:45
What age range?
Eden Robins 45:47
Just an adult. I don't think it doesn't matter too much. The first thing, I thought was Angelina Jolie because of what was that, Maleficent?
Leah Jones 45:57
Witches? May be not. But she would certainly be an intimidating sorceress for sure.
Eden Robins 46:06
Anjelica Huston. I just watched The Witches. So I have her in mind. Just a really formidable person, I think would be terrific. I'd have to think on it. But it'd be one fun character for sure.
Leah Jones 46:21
What about Christine Baranski? I think, she's fighting the good fight, but she's also like a Broadway actress and singer. I think she would bring… she's like… she just she does… I see so well.
Eden Robins 46:36
Yes, this character is very manipulative, very lonely and powerful.
Leah Jones 46:47
Or maybe. Well, now her name is completely out of my head.
Eden Robins 46:53
That's my number is what I asked you because I'm not good at remembering names!
Leah Jones 46:56
I'm not great at that. I'm not going to ask you a question, I can't answer myself. Who played Jackie on Roseanne and the Connors? She's a Chicago actress. I think, if she was put in a scary manipulative, sorceress position, I think she would be terrifying, in a good way.
Eden Robins 47:21
I also love when somebody unexpected plays a really powerful role like that. And she would be a little bit unexpected, I think.
Leah Jones 47:29
I don't know if you saw it, when I was at the Goodman Good Night, Oscar, it was Sean Hayes from Will & Grace. I went to see it because they know Peter Grosz and he was in it. He's a former Chicago comic and used to go to my synagogue. So that's how I know him. Sean Hayes was playing the role of Oscar. Last name escapes me who was a real he was George Gershwin’s best friend. After Gershwin died young, he was the person who continued playing his music. He was in Rhapsody in Blue that's Gershwin. This is like a terrible game of trivia when neither of us know the answer.
Eden Robins 48:15
In my case, have not seen the play.
Leah Jones 48:20
So it's based on this night like West Coast premiere of The Tonight Show, they have sprung him from rehab. They've sprung him from the psych ward to be on The Tonight Show, to be on with Jack Paar. He is having his drugged out of his mind. It's a 60s and he's having like a mental breakdown but he's got to go. This is someone who was like a musician and a witty. He was on talk shows all the time because he was a funny guy. The whole play is happening backstage. Until the final scene, Sean Hayes playing Rhapsody in Blue as a solo on a piano in character from memory; as a man having going through a mental breakdown on live TV and I have chills thinking about it now. It's going to Broadway. You just think about that silly character he played on Will and Grace, is just Jack. And here he is just embodying a man going through, just missing his best friend, trying to figure out his future on leave from rehab for just on a two-hour pass, drugged out of his mind on 1960s psychiatric drugs, which were not today's drugs. It was one of the most beautiful performances, I've ever seen of Rhapsody in Blue. And one of the most shocking, I didn't know this actor could do it moments.
Eden Robins 50:13
I love that because I actually think that humor belongs in drama. I don't think drama can be as powerful, if it's just dramatic. It's very easy to make somebody cry, I think. But if you can make them laugh, making someone laugh is much harder. It just adds this kind of shadow, Sun to shadow or whatever it is. It's so much more powerful, which is why I love when you see comedians or silly actors playing dramatic roles, because I think they bring this pathos that comes from understanding how those two things fit together. I love that. I haven't even seen this play and I can feel what you're talking about. It sounds amazing.
Leah Jones 51:04
I'm so glad, it got picked like that it's making the transition to Broadway. I know he'll be nominated for a Tony. And hopefully, I don't know who he'll be up against? But if he brings to Broadway what he brought to the Goodman Theatre it will be it's a Tony winning award.
Eden Robins 51:28
What an amazing thing to see it. I've seen it here before, Broadway.
Leah Jones 51:32
I only went because Peter was in it. Sean Hayes being in, something is not never going to be a reason for me to go. He's not a draw.
Eden Robins 51:43
I love when something unexpected like that happens. It's one thing to be like, this is supposed to be really good and then you enjoy it. But there's a particular kind of pleasure to seeing something and being completely blown away unexpectedly. That's one of my greatest feelings ever when that happens.
Leah Jones 52:04
What haven't I asked you about The Neverending story, that's important for you to share?
Eden Robins 52:13
I'm so torn because I don't want to give anything away. Again, there is that pleasure and the unexpected twists and turns of this book. There's so much, I want to talk about. I'm just so torn about it.
Leah Jones 52:32
Well, let's just say, let’s enter the spoiler zone. People who don't want to enter the spoiler zone with us can fast forward. I'll put in the show notes when spoilers zone ends. But let's enter spoiler country. You can talk about some of those things and then we will exit spoiler country, and people can come back.
Eden Robins 52:55
I love this. Are you okay with spoilers?
Leah Jones 52:57
I am fine with spoilers.
Eden Robins 53:01
Here's the thing that I'll say. The movie ends with Bastion meeting the childlike Empress and she's like, who's a grain of sand. And then he gets on Falkor. They chase the boys into a garbage can. The part where he meets the childlike Empress, there's a big lead up to it because he doesn't believe that he has anything to offer. An entire chapter of him being like, I can't do this, they don't really want me, they want a real hero, they don't want, shrubby old me. And then the childlike Empress in the book being like, I don't understand, why he's not coming here. Then she meets another character called the Old Man of wandering mountain, who is a mountain. It ends up that she and the old man of wandering mountain, have to tell the entire story up to that point over and over and over again until he steps in and stops the cycle. It's kind of haunting thing about believing in yourself and self-doubt - I don't have anything to offer, I'm not enough the way that I am. And when he finally does, she does in fact, give him a grain of sand. She gives him the amulet with the two snakes, like you can do whatever you wish. He ends up remaking Fantastica from scratch from his own imagination, he literally reinvents it with his incredible stories and ideas. But what happens and you don't realize this until much later in the book, every time he makes a wish, he loses a memory. Once he starts to read and starts to happen, his personality starts to change. He gets like very caught up in his own ego and his own power. He starts making wishes to consolidate his own power. He loses all his friends and he starts to forget about his home and who he is. He just loses one memory after another until a point where he only has a single memory left. And if he loses his last memory then he's just lost. He can never go home and he can't make any more stories and he can't do anything. So it becomes very lonely, frightening idea of losing yourself. It feels very dire. How do you refined yourself? Then he starts to realize everything that he's done and all of the horrors that he's wrought here and the kind of person he's become, when he lost himself. It is chilling. It is incredibly moving story in the midst of all of this wacky fantasy.
Leah Jones 55:55
On one side of the coin, it makes me think about dementia. Would you trade all the wishes in the world, every time you make a wish and it comes true, you're one step closer, your dementia gets worse essentially.
Eden Robins 56:17
To me, it's about the dark side of getting what you want. The fact is that this amulet was given to him by somebody he trusted. It's not that she was bad. It's just that these things have two different sides to them. One is the wonderful things that you can create. But then when you get what you want, it's so easy to lose yourself and forget who you are. I don't know when I was, I think I reread this during the Trump admin. And the whole…
Leah Jones 56:50
I was also thinking about Trump has like a diminished. He got what he wanted. And then it was you can imagine him being like, I got what I wanted.
Eden Robins 57:01
The people you surround yourself with, reinforce that and the people who don't, you don’t keep around you. That is all in this fucking children's book. It is incredible and so relevant. It’s just one of those books that just keeps getting better and better.
Leah Jones 57:24
Your mom read it for an adult book group, and then she gave it to you?
Eden Robins 57:29
I think so, if my memory serves. In the early 80s, it must have just come out or just come out like a couple of years before.
Leah Jones 57:39
The author wasn't a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, but he was a artistic class or child. His parents were survivors and he was identified as someone raised by survivors of the Nazi regime, or was he a child during the Nazi regime?
Eden Robins 58:06
I think, he was born in the mid-20s. He would have been a teenager or a young teenager. So he lived through it.
Leah Jones 58:20
So he's writing this as in his 50s.
Eden Robins 58:27
Yeah, I guess I trust your math. But what's interesting is that now that I'm thinking about it, he was more or less the age of Bastion during the war, which offers a really interesting layer right of intrigue.
Leah Jones 58:47
If you're surviving World War II in Germany and you can wish for things to return to the way they were, but in doing so you may lose the memories of the way things were.
Eden Robins 59:01
I think we all right. I don't know if that feels pretty relevant in this moment. Wishing things to return the way they were but having trouble keeping those memories intact.
Leah Jones 59:26
All right, so should we exit spoiler country?! All right, we will exit spoil country. Welcome to unspoiled country where all I can say to people who did skip this section was read this book and then go listen to spoil country.
Eden Robins 59:45
Get the hardcover, if you can. If you can't, reach out to me and maybe I'll let you borrow it.
Leah Jones 59:53
Can I ask you a quick question about bird watching? Is it since you became neighbors with Robbie?
Eden Robins 1:00:02
No, I started bird watching in 2020 as a way to get out of my head. I actually first became interested when I read a book called, How to do nothing. Which is another book, I recommend. It's terrific by Jenny Odell. And she talks a lot about bird watching, and how it kind of connects you to the place that you live in. And it also kind of broadens your senses. It really grounded me, especially in the worst of 2020. Just to notice and be able to start to learn the different birds to be able to differentiate them to see how the birds change in different seasons. And I don't know, it's really cool to learn all of their songs and what they look like and now I'm a 90-year-old man.
Leah Jones 1:00:54
It's so many of my friends got into bird watching over COVID. And as a reason, I think you're right, it adds a purpose to the walk, I guess. If you're not just getting away from things, maybe it adds gives you a reason not to look at your phone, because you're looking at the birds.
Eden Robins 1:01:15
It totally does. It's grounding, because it's grounding you in the physical world, in the way that meditation is grounding. I'm a person in a place and a time, and I'm seeing these particular things in this place in time. So that makes everything feel a lot more real. That was my experience of it anyway. I'm not a great bird watcher but I enjoy it. And the nice thing about it is that even if you live in a city, we don't have a ton of wildlife or hikes in Chicago but we do have some nature. And there are birds here. There are tons of birds. And I started noticing like all kinds of weird stuff, like there are hawks everywhere.
Leah Jones 1:02:02
Once you know to look for them. It's just something, I've noticed on Instagram and Twitter just as the last few years have gone by a lot more friends heading to the Montrose bird sanctuary to take pictures or along the river walk or different nature reserves or even I'm across the street from one of my park which has nice little pockets of Prairie. The reason I asked, if it was your neighbor because he was really instrumental. There was O'Hare Airport or Rockford airport was going to expand, the Rockford airport into a protected wildlife area for a particular bird.
Eden Robins 1:02:53
That's still happening that fight is ongoing. It's called Bell Bowl Prairie. It's a remnant Prairie, which means that it has been there for thousands of years. And most Illinois used to be covered in Prairie and now it's not and there's been a great resurgence of Prairie restoration. But the original Prairies are so few. So this is an incredibly special place where you can find species that you can't find anywhere else. The airport was trying to expand and Rob was really instrumental in helping to protect it. I helped him write an op-ed about it.
Leah Jones 1:03:34
Nice. I was it's the poet. It's the poetry guy and he's a bird guy.
Eden Robins 1:03:42
He is a plant guy too. Entire backyard is full of prairie plants.
Leah Jones 1:03:47
Wow! That's nice.
Eden Robins 1:03:49
It's pretty cool.
Leah Jones 1:03:50
That's very nice. Well, Eden, this has been a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Eden Robins 1:03:55
Thank you so much for having me. This is such a delightful conversation.
Leah Jones 1:03:59
People don't get to talk about, people might say, what's your favorite book? Neverending story? Oh, my gosh, I love the movie.
Eden Robins 1:04:11
And then you just watch their eyes glaze over as you're trying to be like, “No, it's about the rise and fall of a tyrant.” They're like, I'm done talking about this. So it's so lovely to dig in. This is such a good idea for a podcast.
Leah Jones 1:04:22
Thank you. I've loved it. This was my COVID hobby, was talking to people about their favorite things.
Eden Robins 1:04:29
It's amazing. It feels so good. Like, I bet you just feel so good learning all this stuff.
Leah Jones 1:04:34
I learned all this stuff. And then I have so many hobbies, I can't get into. But last year I did. I interviewed someone about fountain pens. And then my sister when she asked me what I wanted for Christmas, she listened to the fountain pen episode and I would like a beginner fountain pen. So I have been able to finally give people here's the thing, I want in the world because I learned about it on my podcasts.
Eden Robins 1:05:01
That is great because it is hard to people ask you what you want to give an actual answer, I find.
Leah Jones 1:05:09
So your debut novel, not your debut published piece, you are a writer, you produce life lit; people can find you on podcasts all over the place this month. But When Franny Stands Up available, preorder it now. Buy it Tuesday, November 1st 2022. Where can people find you on the internet?
Eden Robins 1:05:32
Well, I have a website. That is its MonkeyThumbs.com, which is exactly how it sounds, the animal and the finger. And on there I have all the preorder links and everything. There's also an audio book I should say.
Leah Jones 1:05:47
So do you read it or did you hire it off?
Eden Robins 1:05:49
I didn't pay, the publisher hired somebody to do it. I haven't heard it yet, but I bet it's great. You can find all those links there. I'm also on Twitter and Instagram @edenrobins that is one being my last name. And I'd love to see you on the internet, which I'm on too much these days and can't wait to get off.
Leah Jones 1:06:13
Great and you can follow Finding Favorites available on Apple podcast, Stitcher, Spotify. Please like subscribe and leave a review. Tell your friends about it. You can follow me @chicagoleah on Twitter at @shyleah on Instagram. Also Chicago Leah on TikTok. I watch and share more than I post on TikTok.
Eden Robins 1:06:35
Is this the real Wild West in there
Leah Jones 1:06:39
It is something else. Well, thank you so much Eden. This has been wonderful.
Eden Robins 1:06:44
Thank you, Leah. It's such a good time.
Thank you for listening to Finding Favorites with Leah Jones. Please make sure to subscribe and drop us a five-star review on iTunes. Now go out and enjoy your favorite things.
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