the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Outdone by My Mother


The bad thing about having insecurities is that you always looking at the external world, comparing yourself to others.   Today I skipped all blog posts that were about romantic Valentine’s Days.  Was I happy for these lucky bloggers and their contentment with their significant others?  Of course I… oh, who am I fooling.  Bastards.

No matter whatever good happens, a truly negative person only sees that the next person is better off.  I told a friend from film school that I have been taking with this producer about some story idea.  He reminded me about our mega-successful friend who is directing a film with Nicolas Cage.  Jerk.

Thank God for mothers.  Whatever you do, they always put you first.   A mother always makes her son feel like a Prince.   Today I was talking to my mother about my interview post.  She is astounded that so many people have gotten involved. 

“And who’s interviewing YOU?”  she asked.

“Oh, I don’t know.  I’ll probably just put my name at the bottom of the list and let it be random like everyone else.”

“That’s nice.” she said, in her sweet voice.  “I’m being interviewed tomorrow, too.”

“Oh yeah?” I said, laughing.  “Who’s interviewing you?  The Flushing chapter of Hadassah?”

“No, tomorrow, a woman is coming to interview me at work.  From “The New Yorker” magazine.”

“The New Yorker?!”  You’re joking.”

“Why would I be joking.”

“No offense, Mom, but why would “The New Yorker” — one of the most prestigious magazines out there — want to interview you?”

“Well, maybe you need to re-read your “interview” post again where you say that “everybody” is a “somebody.”

The story: 

My mother has worked for one company her entire life, starting the job before she was even married.   It is the literary book publisher of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.  Although she isn’t an editor or someone with much decision making power, she has been working there since the days when the company had just a handful of employees, lead by the firm’s founder, Roger W. Straus.   Since then, the company has published twenty-one Nobel Prizes winners in literature. Knut Hamsun, Hermann Hesse, T. S. Eliot, Pär Lagerkvist, François Mauriac, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Salvatore Quasimodo, Nelly Sachs, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Pablo Neruda, Eugenio Montale, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Czeslaw Milosz, Elias Canetti, William Golding, Wole Soyinka, Joseph Brodsky, Camilo José Cela, Nadine Gordimer, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney.

With most of the original staff having either passed away or retired, my MOTHER is now apparently the longest-active employee of the famous company.  She has seen the rise and fall of authors and agents, the birth of the mega book stores, the changes in book publishing, and the inevitable growth of the conglomerates eating up the independents.  And The New Yorker wants to ask her a few questions for some general interest article on the firm and book publishing!

Perfect.  I’m going to be interviewed by some dumb random blogger, while my MOTHER is going to be interviewed by The New Yorker!   (Mom, remember to tell her about the blog!  “Citizen of the Month”)

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:   A Merry Tale of Whale Watching


  1. di

    Oh … huge smiles from the kiwi in Belgium. Thank you. I just discovered I was your blog crush today – you lovely man. And there was me having a small crisis about how much of my reality to blog.

    I did smile over your post … maybe all of us should have the opportunity to ask Neil one question and the result published.

    Hmmmm and maybe someone could phone up one of the tv stations and alert them to this interview movement sweeping the blogosphere, bringing together nationalities and all those worshiping at the space known as Citizen of the Month.

  2. better safe than sorry

    well you know who i think should be interviewing you, YOUR MOTHER!!!

  3. turnbaby

    Well sugar from a naturally positive person I just have to say it’s awesome that your mom is going to be interviewed.

    And it’s also a huge leap to say that just because it’s ‘The New Yorker” that it will be any better that any ‘random dumb blogger’Honestly I think a blogger might do a better job. And yeah yeah yeah –I know–It’s THE New Yorker;-)

    And I think it’s a cool idea that we should all send you one question for your interview.

  4. Eileen Dover

    Err, Neil, can your mom like, wrangle you a book publishing deal?

  5. Alison

    Too cool! Also, what Eileen said.

  6. ma

    Please let me know when this comes out. I’d love to read her story.

  7. blackbird

    I’d be happy to do it, but couldn’t you get someone like Dooce or Alice Bradley to interview you – don’t you run in THOSE circles?
    I’m only saying.

  8. Bre

    Your mother is my new hero… even more so if she ever actually met T.S. Eliot. That’s completely fantastic!

  9. Miss Britt

    But what did she do for Valentine’s Day?

    I kid, I kid. 😉

  10. Tuck

    Wow…the first real Ag celeb (after you of course). Congrats to mom.

    (That lady’s son who was the porn king does not qualify.)

  11. teahouseblossom

    That’s pretty awesome for your mother. And amazing that the publisher has remained intact all these years, with no mergers or mass layoffs and such.

    At my first firm, there was a secretary who’d been there for 50 years. When she’d first started, Harry Truman had been President. She had some pretty amazing stories. Smart of the New Yorker to interview yo’ momma!

  12. mckay

    when i was a kid i interviewed my dad (WWII paratrooper) for a class project. i wish i knew where that tape cassette was. i’d love to hear his voice.

    the new yorker is one of my favorite magazines, but i don’t feel worthy reading it, as if i’m an impostor pretending to be intellectual. i feel more comfortable reading oprah.

    i’ll be on the lookout for the article. congrats to your mom :0)

  13. Dagny

    You didn’t need to explain about the company for which your mother works. I can be a geek and often read who the publisher is on the title page when I pick up a book.

    Your mother totally rocks because (1) she is being interviewed by “The New Yorker” and (2) she has positive things to say about you.

  14. suburbancorrespondent

    That is so cool – the next-best-thing to being published in the New Yorker is being interviewed by them. Wow!


  15. witchypoo

    I have to point out that although your mother is being interviewed by a prestigious magazine, her son had the brainstorm that birthed the Great Interview Experiment.
    And? One question from each participant? Brilliant!

  16. bookfraud

    out-cooled by the mom in queens — now that’s a letdown. but congrats to her. i would love to interview you, neil, but it i’m afraid it would turn into one of those bad blind dates — we sit awkwardly in the banquette, stirring our coffee, nothing to say. and it would completely kill the crush…

  17. iamthediva

    Some Dumb random blogger?!? ouch, that stings! 🙁

  18. SAJ

    word to your mother

    (sorry, I couldn’t help it)

  19. psychomom

    “Thank God for mothers. Whatever you do, they always put you first. A mother always makes her son feel like a Prince.”

    Ohhhh, this was sweet and Yo Moma rocks!

  20. Rhea

    I would feel so bad if I were you. Not really. Just post a link when the story about her comes out.

  21. Karl

    You need to really push your mom to publicize your blog in the interview. Think, man, THINK!

  22. sizzle

    that’s so great for your mom! aren’t you proud of her?


  23. cruisin-mom

    Wow, your mom is amazing!
    Some DUMB blogger?…Gee,I was just about to offer my interviewing services, and then I read THAT.

  24. Kristen

    Your mom is tres cool.

  25. Pearl

    Neil, please make sure that Mom says “Maybe you’ve heard of my son, Neil Kramer. He has a B.L.O.G. called Citizen of the Month and attracts a large readership.”

    (I don’t want Mom to say that her son has a “blodge”!)

    Good for her; make sure to scan the article for us with Elaine Kramer boldfaced in the piece.

  26. annie

    You know I was wondering who was going
    to interview you. I almost offered, except
    I have not joined the interview thing as
    I am a bit new to all this blogging and did not think anyone would want to read
    about me yet :-). Could I ask a question even if I am not being interviewed?
    Glad for your mom, sorry for you, those kinds of things always happen to me too.
    Hang in there, we all love you.

  27. Dave2

    Funny… I’d rather be interviewed by some “dumb random blogger” than “The New Yorker.” Guess it’s all a matter of perspective…

  28. ingrid

    i’d be offended if it wasn’t the new yorker. 😉

  29. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Next thing you know, New York magazine will be wanting your mom to do a photo spread. I’d book some extra therapy appointments just in case.

  30. Neil

    Thanks, V-grrrl, for the cheering up!

  31. Becky

    Knut Hamsun? Hey, I’ve read him.

    Now I’ll be reading the New Yorker …

  32. HeyJoe

    I’m sorry but even in your misery you make me laugh; Schadenfreude at its finest.

  33. Atomic Bombshell

    I love it! GO MOM!!!

  34. Inarticulate Fumblings

    If nothing else, be proud you come from good stock.

  35. churlita

    That’s so awesome for your mom. I bet she has some amazing stories.

  36. LVGurl

    Yeah Mrs. Kramer!

    You’re a great writer, Neil! I know you already know that. But the way you tied everything together in this post… it makes me want to try a little harder when I write.

  37. Lara

    Wow – go Mom! Also – “some dumb blogger” – harumph.

  38. melanie

    ok thats cool.

  39. supa

    Your mama sounds like an interesting lady.

  40. plain jane

    I’m jealous of your mom, she had a great husband, a great son, gets to work in publishing and now The New Yorker interview. Get out!

  41. Marie

    All the blogs I saw about V-Day were very opposed to the whole shebang.

  42. Shelli

    You’re awesome, Neil. You are meeting with a Hollywood producer about a story idea! Your time will come. Maybe your mom will talk to them about her amazing, talented son.

  43. Nat

    I think a hoster of this blog interview thing, you should get to pick who you would like to interview you… or ask a few people to send you a question.


  44. Loralee

    That’s amazing. I love her attitude about it. I would be peeing my pants in intimidated fear!

  45. V-Grrrl

    Now you’re the Son of a Somebody! Wow.

  46. Rabbisdad

    Neil, Mazel tov to you and Elaine. Just think of how proud your dad (of Blessed Memory) would be to know that your mother was interviewed by the New Yorker.It was quite an article , and they mentioned your mother, by name, three times, that’s some kind of record. And just for the record, All those famous authors would have starved to death if it had not had been for your mother making sure that they received their checks for their royalties over allo those years. And by the way, don’t forget, that’s what helped put you through Columbia and USC Film School. Say “Thank you mommy”.

  47. Neil

    Yes, thanks Mom!

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