Shalom Life | April 18, 2014

Top 20 Jews In The Arts - Matthew Aaron Goodman

Exclusive interview with author Matthew Aaron Goodman on Day 3 of our special feature.

By: Ashley Baylen

Published: April 12th, 2011 in Culture » Books » Interviews

Top 20 Jews In The Arts - Matthew Aaron Goodman

Over the next 20 days, ShalomLife will be presenting the Top 20 Jews In The Arts. One artist will be featured a day from various disciplines including visual arts, acting, writing, comedy, and music.

We sent the participating artists the same 30 questions with instructions to answer all, or just a few. Have fun learning about these fascinating individuals, and please check back daily to compare their answers. Enjoy!

Matthew Aaron Goodman

Matthew Aaron Goodman’s debut novel, Hold Love Strong (2009), has received critical acclaim -described as called epic, poignant, and tender. The story follows Abraham Singleton, a young boy born to a 13-year old mother in a New York City housing project. We are invited into Abraham’s life, exposed to his family, hardships, and world perspective. Hold Love Strong is a modern day coming-of-age story inspired by Goodman’s real life experiences.

This accomplished author has taught in the NYC Public School system, worked personally with formerly incarcerated men and women to create leadership/community empowerment programs, and a developed a literacy program for youth. He currently holds works as an Assistant Editor on Pen America’s Pen Journal, while simultaneously teaching at The College of New Rochelle and Hunter College.

Check out www.holdlovestrong.com to learn more about this wonderful artist, his upcoming projects, and special events/readings.

Where do you go when your lacking inspiration?

I visit friends who are artists as well—my brother—David Goodman, Clintel Steed or if they’re not in New York, I give them a call or write them a letter. People like James Hannaham, Michael Dopp, Arisa White, Jay Nicorvo. Contact with other artists and their work helps me most when I’m lacking inspiration.

What's your favorite place to travel to?

A few summers ago, I went to Cuba and although I don’t know if it qualifies as a “favorite place”, it was certainly an incredibly interesting, challenging, and unique place to visit.

What's your favorite dish? Where do you normally get it?

I love falafel so much I’ve considered opening a falafel shop. I’ll get falafel anywhere, anytime. I consider myself a connoisseur, a sommelier of chickpeas and hummus so to speak.

Who, in your opinion, is the most beautiful person on earth?

In my opinion, there is no such thing as the most beautiful person on earth. The collection of us, the heterogeneous, idiosyncratic mass of us is beautiful. Subtract one, and we lose some of that which is beautiful.

Are you religious? Spiritual? Nothing at all?

I’m spiritual, I think and there have been times in my life when I’ve been more religious than others. But right now, for me, it’s hard to be “religious” hard because it’s become increasingly difficult to see religion as separate from the divisions and ill treatment, and disrespect that exists between religious groups. So, culturally, ethnically, I’m Jewish. But I don’t believe in the separation of peoples and in the world today, too many people use religion in this way. We should always keep in mind that Abraham was not a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim, but a benevolent and principled citizen of the world.

What's your favorite movie?

It changes all of the time. But this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about The Last Tango In Paris.

TV Show?

I don’t much care for television, but most recently I’ve been somewhat obsessed by the Jersey Shore. I think I watch it because its stupidity helps me to better accept my own.

Musician/band?

Recently, I’ve been listening a lot to a Malian singer named Boubacar Traore.

Who's your best friend?

My wife and my son.

What are you better at than most other people you know?

Despite all of my faults, my indiscretions, my moments of weakness, confusions, etc…I am the best Matthew Aaron Goodman in the world. There’s no competition. In this endeavor, everyone else in the whole wide world really pales in comparison.

What is your biggest weakness?

Self-doubt.

Do you have any vices?

Of course. What would be the point of living without them?

Is there a quote or motto that you live by?

“A man is the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes.” Ghandi.

If you could work with a specific person, who would it be?

I’d like to work with the aforementioned artists on a project that brings us together for a lifetime. Perhaps, we’re working on such a project right now, and I don’t know it. If so, I’m very happy to be working with them and very proud to say that we are collaborators.

Tell us something about yourself we might be surprised to hear.

I’m simultaneously irresponsible and responsible. For example. I’m five hundred dollars behind on my electric bill, I owe state and federal taxes and every night, I take whatever money I have in my pocket—usually no more than a couple of dollars—and put it in a piggy bank for my son’s college fund.

How would you describe your personal style?

Yet to be defined or discovered salvaged and saved.

Where is your primary residence? Do you consider this place "home"?

I live in Brooklyn. But home, for me, is an internal space.

Who's your favorite author?

Last night I was in love with the work of Leslie Marmon Silko. But with regards to reading and authors, I am a devoted and proud practitioner of polyamory.

Do you watch reality TV?

Is it possible for TV to be reality? No. Reality is impossible to edit and you don’t get paid for it.

Do you prefer road trips or flying?

Road Trips.

What one word would you use to describe yourself?

Inexhaustible.

What item do you never leave your house without?

A pen.

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