Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When a movie nut reads a book...

Atilla “Tilly” Gokbudak is a Turkish-American, ex-reporter who used to be my competitor on a small-town government beat in rural Southwest Virginia.

Nowadays he’s a playwright/actor and an English teacher.
“If you can imagine Quentin Tarantino teaching English, then you know what my classes are like,” he says.
He’s also a heavy-duty movie buff. (He’s seen more than 5,000 movies. Do the math and you’ll realize that it’s not easy.)

But he does find time to read books. Very different books than I would choose to read. Here's his take on GuysLit:

Q: Can you describe your ethnic/cultural/social status when you were 17?

A: I was like the native foreign exchange student in my high school. My dad , who had died when I was in the seventh grade, was from Turkey, so everyone thought out of me as "The Turkish guy" even though my mom is from Rock Hill, SC. I couldn't buy a date, but I did get invited to parties.

Q: What kind of books were you reading then?

A: I was really fascinated with true crime books like "Cruel Doubt" by Joe McGinnis back then. Even though it wasn't about crime, I liked Bob Woodward's book on John Belushi called "Wired," which was very unsettling, back then. I really identified with Belushi very strongly, and come to think of it, it seems odd to think that I've now outlived him since he died at age 33 in 1982. And, there were Stephen King novels. But, I'm not sure I finished either "Christine" or "Cujo." I did see their movies.

Q: Do you think those were good books now?

A: I am still a better reader of non-fiction than fiction, but my interests in books have focused a bit more towards politics, which is perhaps as disturbing as true crime! Ironically, I just read Joe McGinnis' book on Ted Kennedy, which was written about ten years ago.. It was awesome! Anyone interested in politics, regardless of their chosen party, should read it.

Q: What would you tell 17-year-old Tilly he should read for fun?

A: The 17-year-old Tilly Gokbudak should read Barry Gifford novels like "Wild at Heart" for fun. It's what I read for fun now. I am amazed that it is actually hard to find books by Gifford in bookstores and libraries. "Night People" is actually my favorite novel by him. My sister got it for me in Baltimore_ of all places_ about eight years ago. I just recently reread it.

Q: Since I know you love movies even more than books ... what movie was at the top of 17-year-old Tilly's list? What about your current list?

A: I was a die-hard movie geek even when I was in high school. Movies were an escape from my very painful existence back then. By the time I was 17, I had seen virtually all of Woody Allen's films from the 1970s. "Bananas," his most outlandish comedy, was my favorite film of his at the time. Today, I prefer "Manhattan." I also loved Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" and Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" as well. I watched them both quite often. Though I did watch movies like "Porky's" and "Bachelor Party" so I could seem cool, I think I considered "The Godfather" to be the best movie ever made when I was a teenager. Today, it ranks as my fourth favorite behind "The Graduate," "King Kong" (1933) and an obscure 1966 Japanese film called "The Pornographers."

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