Jerry Stahl: Government has a “fascist-adjacent” devotion to business
No one gets to see it all but Jerry Stahl has seen a lot of it. Best known for the addiction memoir "Permanent Midnight," later made into a movie starring Ben Stiller, Stahl's latest book is the novel "Happy Mutant Baby Pills," a biting look at big Pharma. He recently chatted with the writer and producer Larry Charles.
It seems to me your work has always been autobiographical yet increasingly coded. Explain the autobiographical underpinnings of "HMBP."
I don’t know how coded, but this book is autobiographical on a couple of fronts. First: I was the kind of kid who read the backs of cereal boxes, dying to be a writer, then basically grew up and wrote the backs of cereal boxes, along with sex toy advertisements, fake Penthouse Forum letters, and other prestige gigs. It was like an apprenticeship. In the same way, Lloyd, in the book, is a failed novelist who pays the rent writing side effects copy for Big Pharma commercials (he coined the term “anal leakage” – a side effects triumph), penning the content for Christian dating sites, etc. ... While he’s trying to be a writer he’s also got one foot in the criminal world. So he’s definitely some alternate universe version of me. Except, unlike Lloyd, I never killed anyone – that I know of.