Warren Lehrer's Life in Books

Interview

Friday, November 22, 2013

Bleu Mobley began his life in a housing project in Queens, the son of a mentally ill mother and an absent father. He went on to become a journalist, experimental novelist, professor, self-help guru, pop-culture pundit, unindicted prisoner, and the author of 101 books over a 50-year career. Also, Mobley is pure fiction.

Mobley is the invention of the writer and designer Warren Lehrer.  A Life in Books: The Rise and Fall of Bleu Mobley is part fictional memoir, part artist retrospective. Mobley whispers his story into a cassette recorder from his jail cell; as he recounts his life, we see jackets for all 101 books. Mobley covers almost every literary genre imaginable. How Bad People Go Bye-Bye is a pop-up book for kids about the history of capital punishment; Yes I Can’t is a slacker’s guide on how not to accomplish your full potential; the oversized Narcissistic Planet Disorder is the tale of a planet out of control. Lehrer, a designer, artist, and writer (and brother of WNYC’s Brian Lehrer), created each book cover, along with the accompanying catalog descriptions, reviews, and excerpts.

Lehrer has been writing and designing books for more than 30 years, but A Life in Books is his first novel. He admits that some aspects of Mobley’s career and personality are familiar. “Bleu Mobley started with my experiences and background to a certain extent, but there’s all kinds of things in his story and his character that really, more and more, as I wrote this that departed from me,” Lehrer tells Kurt Andersen. “He’s much more interesting that I am.”

 

Slideshow: Bleu Mobley’s bibliography

© Warren Lehrer 2013

Warren Lehrer writes, “Bleu Mobley’s first novel takes place on a day when everyone on earth is switched with their number one nemesis.”

© Warren Lehrer 2013

“A book about a planet that thought it was the center of the universe.”

© Warren Lehrer 2013

“This novel takes place in a globalized world where ‘Made in America’ could be made in Philippines or China, and Grandma could be an eleven year old girl with knitting needles.”

© Warren Lehrer 2013

“Trying to cope with a bad back, Mobley writes a self-help book under the name Dr. Sky Jacobs — marketed as a guide for Type A personalities in need of lowering their blood pressure and underachievers looking for a roadmap to oblivion.”

© Warren Lehrer 2013

“A pull-out, pop-up book on the history of capital punishment.”

© Warren Lehrer 2013

This page from How Bad People Go Bye-Bye depicts a stoning.

    Music Playlist
  1. Delphiniumism
    Artist: Ryan Ross Smith
    Album: Delphiniumism
  2. for guitar and synthesizer 1
    Artist: Ryan Ross Smith
    Album: if you want something done, sentimentality is effective
  3. Carroussel
    Album: La Rainbow Toy Orchestra
    Label: Error Lo-Fi Recordings
  4. The Pages Of My Mind
    Artist: Ray Charles
    Album: From the Pages of My Mind
    Label: Columbia Records
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Warren Lehrer

Produced by:

Julia Lowrie Henderson

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