Interview with Mark Reutlinger, author of A Pain in the Tuchis
19 Nov 2015
A Pain in the Tuchis is the second book in the “Mrs. Kaplan” cozy mystery series. Like the first book, Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death, it takes place in a Jewish retirement home. Mrs. Kaplan and her good friend Ida, who narrates the story, investigate the death of a woman resident who was, to virtually everyone in the Home, a “pain in the tuchis” (or tush or backside or whatever term you prefer). Also like the first book, Ida narrates in her Old World dialect, with liberal use of Yiddish words and phrases (all of which are explained, of course, for those who don’t happen to speak the language).
What are you currently craving?
I assume you don’t mean chocolate. Or world peace, for that matter, both of which technically qualify. Other than those, I’m craving a large block of time in which I can polish a current manuscript and begin a new one. At present I’m having to wedge writing time in between a thousand other tasks, a problem I know many writers share.
Which books would we be surprised to find on your shelves?
If you knew me, nothing on my shelves would surprise you. But I suppose the extensive collection of books about railroads might seem unusual—I’m a model railroader and love traveling on trains. I also have quite a few books about Morgan automobiles: I own a 1995 Plus Eight. As for fiction, however, perhaps the most unusual is Make Way for Lucia, by E.F. Benson. I got hooked on the “Mapp and Lucia” PBS series years ago and still enjoy reading the stories.
What’s your favorite course to teach as a law professor?
I think Torts has always been my favorite, both because it is a first-year course and therefore I am introducing new students to the joys of law study, and because the subject matter is so varied, from injuries to a person (e.g., auto accidents) to injuries to land (e.g., trespass) to defamation of character, and much more. One can conjure up some very interesting hypothetical questions for class discussion and exams under these topics.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
If they don’t have to be currently living, I would invite P.G. Wodehouse, Terry Pratchett, and Agatha Christie (but it’s a difficult choice to make; there are so many more, from Plato forward . . .). If I’m limited to those still with us, I would choose Dave Barry, J.K. Rowling, and Alexander McCall Smith.
If you had to pick one place to vacation for the rest of your life, where would you choose?
New Zealand. We lived there while I was teaching at Victoria University in Wellington, and we loved the slower pace of life, the varied communities, and especially the spectacular landscape. And the sheep, of course.
What’s your favorite quote or scene from A Pain in the Tuchis?
I think my favorite scene is Ida, dressed in full biker gear, trying not to be a passenger behind Motorcycle Moishe.
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
Not really, but the closest would be something I found in a fortune cookie many years ago: “Don’t trouble trouble ‘til trouble troubles you.”
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