Today: Mar 03, 2024

Rolling Stone writer pays visit to Southern

Photo Courtesy si.wsj.net
Paul Solotaroff is a senior writer at Rolling Stone and held an open reading at Southern last week.

RYAN FLYNN General Assignment Reporter
There are some books that you want to write, and there are some books that you have to write, according to Paul Solotaroff.
As a senior writer at Rolling Stone, said for him, his recently released memoir, “The Body Shop,” without a doubt fell into the latter category.
“I’d written two books before this, and in order to write anything else, I needed to get this out of my system because it was burning a hole in me,” Solotaroff said.
In an event open reading, Solotaroff read two passages from his memoir, titled “The Body Shop: Parties, Pills and Pumping Iron—Or, My Life in the Age of Muscle” to Southern students. Solotaroff also fielded questions. The event was put together by SCSU English Professor Tim Parrish.
“[Solotaroff] has read here before and has always been a big hit,” Parrish said. “More than that, he’s an outstanding writer who’s been in just about every aspect of the game, from writing school to high-powered journalism to publishing literary books. He brings a lot of information to students and he’s also a fine person.”
To begin the night, Solotaroff read a passage from a chapter titled “The Unbearableness of Being Light,” which detailed an argument between him and his father. This passage gave the audience some insight into their stilted relationship.
Despite some of the more salacious subject matter in ‘The Body Shop,’ such as the stripping and steroid use, at its core the memoir is about his relationship with his father, according to Solotaroff.
“It’s about my father and, you know, finally stepping out of this enormous shadow of his and figuring out what my voice and my place is here,” said Solotaroff. “And that took a very long time.”
Solotaroff’s trials and tribulations to get to that point were on full display within the memoir. He spoke of what he called his “black phase” in high school, as well as his journey into the world of steroids, bodybuilding and male stripping.
Paul’s father, Ted Solotaroff, was a renowned editor, writer and literary critic in his own right. Prior to his death in 2008, Ted Solotaroff wrote a memoir about issues with his own father, which he titled: “Truth Comes in Blows.”
“Part of the reason I did this whole number,” Solotaroff said, referring to his use of steroids, stripping, etc., “was to avoid being the kid that I was sort of put on this Earth to be. Which was this very serious, you know, hyper-literary character. And I fought that off as long as I could, until finally, I had no choice.”
Solotaroff read a second passage which entailed what he called his “world premiere” as a male stripper. The very articulately written and often comical section described a bachelorette party where Solotaroff stripped for the first time.
This, along with many of the other exploits described in the memoir, were the twists and turns in Solotaroff’s life that led him to find out that he was in fact the very person he’d been doing his very best to avoid becoming—his father’s son.
“I wound up in journalism through a series of complete flukes,” Solotaroff said. “I never planned for this. I did everything in my power to avoid making a living as a writer.”
Solotaroff noted that he’d never met anyone like his father, someone who was so completely self-created.
“The thing that he said to me that will last until I die is that the most interesting people that he knew, as a writer, as an editor, as a man, were people who were twice born,” Solotaroff said. “Born into the family and the life they’d come into and then sometime in their 20s or 30s, giving birth to themselves in their own real image—having made all the mistakes, having tried every conceivable, you know, dream, illusion, left turn and finally having come to the one that felt like it had deep resonance.”

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