Catapult Magazine Editor to Share Humorous Take on Serious Matter at Wisconsin Book Festival | Entertainment






Issen


KAREN ISEN


Author Tajja Isen says humor is part of her daily life. It’s no surprise, then, that she’s weaving in a little comedy while tackling the important issue of discrimination in various aspects of society in her book “Some of My Best Friends,” released earlier this month.







Some of my best friends by Tajja Isen

Isen, who is also the editor of Catapult Magazine and an occasional comedian, will be featured as part of the Wisconsin Book Festival.

Q: You have already been published, but this is your first book. What led you to write the collection of essays “Some of my best friends”?

A: Many of these topics have been on which I have been publishing articles in short form for about five years. I write about culture and the literary industry… (but) it’s really been in the last two years that I’ve started to notice a lot more of a trend in the language of cultural inclusion. Companies are increasingly using the language of social justice. The strangeness of it and the absurd comedy of it seemed to me very indicative of contemporary life.

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Q: How do you describe your book?

A: It’s a collection of essays that combine personal narrative with cultural critique and research to explore…living in a world that speaks the language of social justice so fluently, but as we’ve seen…it doesn’t always go as far as at the end. It’s easy to profess a commitment to fairness, but it’s much harder to put those things into practice. I think over the last few years we’ve really seen that dissonance grow. In the book, I look at various industries. I look at the literary industry, the cartoon and entertainment industry, the publishing industry and the law, and I track down these patterns and the strangeness of the gap between talk and action.

Q: You have had several different careers in your life so far. Tell me about your background.

A: I’m the editor of Catapult Magazine, a daily digital magazine that publishes essays and short stories. I am also a writer and occasional voice actor. (Dubbing) is a world I’ve worked in for over 20 years, and I still work on a few shows, but that work is much less frequent.

Q: Do you have a preferred form? Do you find a more difficult or effective one?

A: Throughout my various activities, the constant has been to write and to be a writer. It took me a while to gain the confidence to see (writing) as a viable business. I aspired to an artistic and literary life but I didn’t want to take the plunge and I studied law. The arts have always been present in my life, that’s how I fell into dubbing, but it was a real pleasure to explore… different fields. Being a voice actor has influenced my writing and how I try to capture the action on the page.

Q: Your book talks about the term “lip service”, meaning the idea of ​​believing in something that is not backed by actions. Why use this term?

A: “End to end” means different things in different contexts. I get playful with it, depending on which essay it appears in. (The term) has not been overloaded with meaning or politics in any direction or morality in any way. I felt there was a lot of freedom to go in and use the term for my own purposes.

Q: How were you personally affected by the “lip service memory”

A: The book’s first essay, “Hearing Voices”, (relates to how) the cartoon industry has recognized it needs to do a better job of making room for minoritized voices, but is struggling to find the quickest fix by saying that the actor’s body should match the character’s body (like a way) to ensure a fairer portrayal. (However) the problem is so much bigger than that. It’s not just who does the voice, it’s who does the casting? Who writes the screenplay? Who is retained? Who is hired? This is how I use the term (lip service) in the book: quick fixes to systemic problems that may look good on the surface, but once you dig a little deeper they can break down into bigger problems. difficult.

Q: What are you working on next?

A: I can’t wait to dive into another long project, and I have very early ideas for a novel and memoir project. But I’m also really enjoying writing short forms right now and just being able to work with a different skill set. Writing a book was transformative in a way. I know what it’s like to think on the scale of a book. It will change the way I think about my writing career. I am delighted to have this knowledge.

Q: Is there anything else you would like people to know about “Some of My Best Friends?”

A: I really hope the book articulates a pattern that feels familiar to the reader and puts into words something that seems true, but might not have been thought of that way before. Comedy and the fun it provides were also very much on my mind. My goal was for this book to be fun and funny. (I hope readers will think) “I was waiting for someone to put this thing I experienced into words.”

Q: Why is it so important to include humor in your essays?

A: I think humor is a very powerful tool of criticism. It’s always been part of how I see the world and how I approach the page. I certainly think there is something inclusive and accessible about using humor to contribute to this conversation. When these topics appear in the air, it’s mainly because something is wrong. This is a situation that people are going to feel bad about, ashamed of, angry and frustrated about. I was very aware that this was the context in which I was writing. It was important that the book not look like that. I wanted to use humor to open the conversation, but that’s also my way of being.

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