"Cartoonist's Vacation" (2005)

Artist's Statement

I'm re-running this cartoon from 2005 because I'm currently at the 7th Anniversary party for the wedding at which it was first conceived. My friend Carolyn and I came up with this cartoon at her wedding party seven years ago and just slew ourselves, looking at the rough sketch over and over again and weeping with laughter, to the polite tolerance of everyone around us. I'm going to be using this cartoon to accompany an essay in my next book about my friendship with Carolyn and our historic inability, or at least reluctance, to care for others. Carolyn's mother has since died, which retroactively makes us both bad people.

Click for the update of the "This Is the Worst" Project.


Pain News

Our artist's residency has been filled. My sincere thanks to all the talented and trustworthy-seeming applicants. I suspect the Quetzal Residency will be a recurring offering at the Pain, so struggling young artists with good cat-sitting qualifications should keep monitoring this site.

I wrote an op-ed called "The Busy Trap" for the New York Times on June 1 that "went viral," as they say. I enjoyed (the word is used figuratively) a brief career as Mr. Busyness Expert, conscripted into holding forth on the subject on TV and radio as though I knew anything anybody else didn't, before being mercifully released back into my natural habitat, obscurity. (Addendum: apparently my relief was premature; there is now loose talk of my appearing on The Colbert Report in mid-August.) Hopefully some of that freakish attention was successfully diverted toward my book.

I am currently on tour promoting my essay collection, We Learn Nothing. Being on book tour is kind of like being on the starship Enterprise, briefly touching down on a completely different planet with different climate, customs, dress, etc., every few days. First, my friend Sadie's house in San Francisco's Mission district, where I found myself surrounded by sex workers, transgendered performance artists, and queers of all persuasions; then my friends Megan and Mike's cozy home in south Seattle, complete with backyard cookouts and adorable 6-year-old; then my friend Aaron's crunchy-granola hippie co-op downtown. And then the ornate and luxurious old Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, where I was giving a lecture on George Grosz at the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Adolphus is the same hotel where George Grosz was put up when he was in Dallas sixty years ago. The Mary Kay awards banquet was being held in the hotel while I was there, which was especially Star Trek-y, or possibly more like a late Fellini film, one of the batshit ones like Juliet of the Spirits. I have never seen such fashions anywhere in America: tiny top hats festooned with plumes, rhinestone-studded bustiers, diaphanous feathered skirts, high heels with more rhinestones. (Texas ladies wear a lot of sparkly stuff, as though the women are hoping to attract not boys but jackdaws.) The basic fashion template for formal occasions in Texas is: Prom. Interestingly, in an inversion of most places I've been in the U.S., here it is the white ladies who turn themselves into flamboyant birds of paradise and the black women are relatively tasteful and restrained. I so wish George Grosz could have been there.


Reading Schedule

Thanks to all my readers who have shown up and bought books at my readings and lectures in New York, Arlington and Baltimore, Seattle and Dallas. My remaining reading schedule follows:

  • Monday, July 30, 7:30 PM: Powell's Books (Portland, OR)
  • [NOTE CORRECTION] Wednesday, August 1, 7 PM: Third Place Books, Bothell location (not, as previously listed, Ravenna) (Seattle, WA)

If your local bookstore is interested in hosting a reading they may contact my publicist at Simon & Schuster, Meg Cassidy:



"Tim Kreider's writing is heartbreaking, brutal and hilarious--usually at the same time. He can do in a few pages what I need several hours of screen time and tens of millions to accomplish. And he does it better. Come to think of it, I'd rather not do a blurb. I am beginning to feel bad about myself."

-Judd Apatow

"Tim Kreider may be the most subversive soul in America and his subversions--by turns public and intimate, political and cultural--are just what our weary, mixed-up nation needs. The essays in We Learn Nothing are for anybody who believes it's high time for some answers, damn it."

-Richard Russo
author of Empire Falls and The Risk Pool

"Whether he is expressing himself in highly original cartoons that are hilarious visual poems, or in prose that exposes our self-delusions by the way he probes his own experience with candor, Tim Kreider is a writer-artist who brilliantly understands that every humorist at his best is a liberator. Because he is irreverent, makes us laugh, ruffles the feathers of the pretentious and the pompous, and keeps us honest, We Learn Nothing is a pleasure from its first page to the last.""

-Charles Johnson
author of Middle Passage and Black Humor


"Earnest, well-turned personal essays about screw-ups without an ounce of sanctimony—a tough trick."

Kirkus Reviews

"Kreider locates the right simile and the pith of situations as he carefully catalogues humanity's inventive and manifold ways of failing."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)



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We Learn Nothing - Tim Kreider 

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