I have long said that if anyone in the small press game has a chance to make it on OPRAH in the next five years, its BEN TANZER. Women love him, men wanna be him. It seems like he dabbles in everything from writing and blogging to racing stock cars and selling red beet eggs on the side of the road, and even if the latter isn't technically true, it should be. So here he is. And when you're done check him out at THIS BLOG WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

BG: so many quality indie presses and literary journals, what is the THIS ( ) WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE dynasty bringing to the table? what words of wisdom can it offer to the literary conversation?

BT: This is such a good question, because there is a level of overlap and even groupthink in the lit zine/press world, which isn’t even a bad thing, but from a market perspective, you have to ask what’s different about what you do and why should I care. I think with This Zine Will Change Your Life we try to do one thing in particular, which is to try and explore how literature, art, street art in particular, and music can both enhance and build off of one another, that the experience of reading need not be limited to one sense, that it’s possible to mash things together and try to create a different experience, not better than others necessarily, just a version of something you sort of do all the time, but in this case driven by what we think works, or maybe what we like and so hope you will as well. Soon enough we will be expanding our offerings beyond the zine, the book reviews, and podcasts, to food, drink, denim and cosmetic lines and after that we will be able to truly envelope you in all things TBWCYL, Inc., sort of Martha Stewart, the literary version, which was always the goal to begin with.

BG: when the world ends in 2012, as the mayans predicted, and the next species takes over the earth and digs up America 1,000 years from now, what literary journals / indie press publications will they be restoring, reviving, and immortalizing, and why?

BT: Fuck, where do you begin? No really, where do you begin. The question for me may be, who is or was capturing a slice of what’s going on at this time and in this place and doing it in a way that someone will say, man, I hadn’t thought about it in quite that way. Which maybe is your point? And if so, you’re pretty smart. Anyway, from this perspective, two now defunct journals/magazines come to mind for me, Punk Planet and Clamor, and for any number of reasons, but mostly for their efforts to combine music, literature, film, DYI aesthetics and progressive politics. It may say something about what we value as a society that they are defunct, but either way they both did some wonderful stuff, not the least of which was send the message that you can start something from nothing and your passion can get you pretty far if you think big enough, and don’t care about sleep or making much money.

BG: what is the last book you borrowed and never returned? who'd you steal it from and why didn't you give it back?

BT: My wife tells people not to lend me things because apparently I am not good at returning anything. And she is right, though I don’t think it’s a stealing thing, I don’t want to keep the things I borrow, I just don’t get to them quickly, that’s the primary problem, and then I need some second surge of something to remember that they actually belong to someone else. Now with that caveat in mind, and with the understanding that this could actually be an entire list of books, I will say the last book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which I borrowed, sort of under duress, meaning, I wanted to read it, but was worried about borrowing it for all of the above reasons which have since played out, I didn’t get to it immediately, and now I can’t remember that it needs to leave our house and go home. Well, I guess I can’t say that anymore.

BG: name the five best books you've read that you'd bet your balls nobody else has?

BT: It’s hard to imagine such books exist, which is good, right? How about I list five books that have had an impact on me as a writer, which I know people have read, and are probably even popular in certain circles, yet never seem to get mentioned enough, if it all? Would answering the question in this way make me a dick, well more of a dick? Whatever, I’ll risk it. Thanks.

(1) Cruddy - Linda Barry
(2) Andre Dubus - Meditation from a Movable Chair
(3) American Skin - Don DeGrazia
(4) Vacation - Jeremy C. Shipp
(5) Beautiful Piece - Joseph G. Peterson

BG: who is your favorite historical figure, past or present, and how have they influenced your literary journey?

BT: I know I should state someone who had some progressive or social impact on the world, like Alex Kotlowitz or Jonathan Kozol, but ignoring that, and the fact that I also really want to say Ray Bradbury, I am going to go with Jim Carroll. To this day, few books have affected me like the first time, strike that, the first ten times, I read The Basketball Diaries.

BG: BONUS QUESTION: Give us a six song playlist that tells the story of your life.

BT: Killer. We’ve talked before, right, and having done so, you must know that all these limits and short lists are very tough on me. It’s like you’re forcing me to edit myself and be thoughtful and more self-aware. Oh, okay, I get it now.

(1) I Wanna be Sedated – The Ramones
(2) Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
(3) 99 Problems – Jay Z
(4) Sabotage – The Beastie Boys
(5) Highway Patrolman – Bruce Springsteen
(6) Just What I Needed - The Cars


  1. Many thanks for this, was that stupid enough?

  2. Now that you mention it, Ben, you ARE a less-than-exemplary returner. I can think of three books I've lent you that seemed to have disappeared into some gaping void. Hey, no rush.