- My Obit is an autobiography that explores the scenarios on family dynamics. Kenneth, what made you decide to write this autobiography at this stage of your life?
It occurred to me a few years ago that I might just end up dead. As a writer I hated the prospect that someone else might write my obit, and decided it was my job to do it myself!
- What made you decide on throwing these into the mix?
The story of me is rich and funny and full of surprising twists and turns. One of the richest parts of life for me has been the food I loved along the way so I decided I needed to share that as well—plus my son insisted (he is an excellent cook!).
- Which recipe is your favourite?
From a sentimental viewpoint, it’s the recipe for my Lebanese grandmother’s beans, “Tata’s beans.” For sheer culinary delight, it’d be the recipe for kibbeh nayah, tartare mixed with wheat.
- Who was the biggest influence in your life?
Aside from my father and mother, I’d have to say it was the Jesuits, starting with Edmund Ziegelmeyer who stopped by our house every day beginning when I was 10 to teach me Latin and to inspire me to learn many languages.
- If you could go back, what is the one thing that you would change in life?
I would have liked a role in The Godfather!
- Would you say that all families are dysfunctional in a way?
Absolutely! Ambrose Bierce (Devil’s Dictionary) defined a family as, “a random group of characters who one would otherwise encounter only in a prison break or a train wreck.” So, to idealize the situation, it’s up to us to go out there and build a family in our own image and likeness—and that becomes your true family (though it may include a couple from the bloodline).
- Would you say this book is a journey for yourself on self-reflection?
Yes indeed, in every way. That’s why it took so long to write it because it’s all about getting my story straight and recognizing that the happiest life is the one whose self-narration is the strongest and most heroic.
- If you could go back, what is one thing you would have liked to have more time to pursue?
For sure, I would have liked to study music, play the piano, and learned to dance properly! I’m proud that I’ve composed a half dozen songs (lyrics) some of which appear in my movies and could have led a happy life just writing songs.
- For many people, family dynamics is a major part of their day-to-day life, society’s expectations etc. In a nutshell, it’s a serious issue. What made you decide to portray it in a comedic, philosophical sense?
It’s only serious if you’re not an optimist with a sense of humor.
- How long have you been working on this book? Is it something you just sat down and decided to write or is it something compiled over time?
I started it fifteen years ago and have been fiddling with it ever since. It was stop-and-go because I had constantly to wrestle with point of view—from what perspective to tell my story? And, of course, what to include, what not. At one point the draft was 900 pages before I decided it MUST be cut into several books. I’m hoping to publish Vol. 2 by the end of 2022.
- What do you hope readers gain from reading this book?
I hope they enjoy it, learn something, and laugh a lot. And I hope they learn to take charge of their own stories and realize that power is life’s greatest gift. If you want a happy ending, you have to shape it.
- What is next for Kenneth?
Congratulations on your latest release. Enjoy the magic moments. And by the way, you look very handsome. Many blessings, Frances
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