If you could only read one author every day for the rest of your life, who would it be?
I’d say Dostoevsky or Tolkien. But then my son was like, ‘No dad, this one too!’ and he’s right: Calvin and Hobbes. We read it almost every single day.
What is one trend from your teenage years that you wish would return?
Mixtapes and CDs. I loved making mixtapes. It is better than Spotify playlists because you have to limit yourself to 60 minutes or a CD would be 80 minutes. It was perfect for romancing and there was an art to it. I still have a large catalogue of music that I buy instead of stream, and it’s so I can make mixtapes for myself and my friends.
What is your secret talent?
I will interpret your dreams. I will. You can hide no secret from this Joseph.
What are your favorite movies?
“Back to the Future,” “Clue,” and “Sling Blade.”
What is something you formerly believed that you have since changed your mind about?
I used to never understand why people would continue in a religion that they didn’t believe in anymore. And then as I’ve gotten older and had kids, I totally get it. There is just the need to be a part of something larger.
What is something you have learned about from your children?
Insects and dinosaurs.
What is your favorite fast food chain?
I would say none because I don’t eat it, but my wife would tell you Burger King.
What is your favorite thing about the place where you grew up?
When we lived in Ohio there were these enormous woods behind our house. There were just these rival groups of kids that would tear down our tree houses and things like that and so then we would tear down their tree houses. It’s since been bulldozed over for a development.
What is the most underrated band/musician?
Corb Lund. He is from Alberta, Canada. He’s my favorite songwriter of the 21st century, and nobody has ever heard of him. I have a shirt with iron on letters that says, “Listen to Corb Lund.” Dwight Yoakam is underrated too.
What is the best decision you ever made?
Leaving the Midwest and moving to Idaho. That sort of changed the course of everything and that’s where I met my wife. But I feel like Idaho is my adopted homeland because I grew up moving around.
What is a memory that stands out to you from your childhood?
I had a good childhood, but I do often go back to times when I was just being a mean kid. There were times on the school bus I said mean stuff to kids. Those are traumatizing to me….to think about being 12 years old and just being a jerk.
What is one of your favorite memories from college?
We were on an intramural basketball team that we called chupamos, which literally means ‘we suck.’ And we would have different themed nights during intramural basketball. And so we would have beach night and just play in some trunks. Then we would have “Braveheart” night. One of my friends would be stationed at the three point line, and he would never move. And we would just pass it to him and he tried to bounce shot it in the entire half. It would drive the other team crazy.
What is the best gift you ever received?
My wife is a really good gift giver. One year she got me a rental car and tickets to a band to follow them around for three straight shows. Go to North Carolina for Christmas break with your two friends and here’s the rental car and the tickets are already bought.
What is your favorite part about teaching?
Literature really was life giving and forming to me, and so to get to participate in at least the opportunity for that to happen with students, that’s the best part. There are books that sort of altered what has happened to me, and I don’t assume that every book I teach is going to be that for students, but I still get to be participating in that opportunity.
What is the most surprising thing that has happened while you were teaching a class?
There was one time I was a student teacher and I threw a kid out of class. And after he left, the rest of the class applauded because they had been waiting for this to happen for months and months before I arrived ther