Richard Izzo is a high school library assistant. He received his Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from Dominican University in 2013 after a promising career in bookselling fell flat. He is an inveterate bull-shitter but the following is accurate: He wrote a blog from 2003-2012 under the name Reverend H.L. Spork and occasionally writes poetry. He has worked an insane variety of jobs including: billing clerk for a suburban exterminator; office assistant for a New Yorker cartoonist; inventoried silvered photographic plates from the 1920s fifty feet underground in the Chicago Tribune archives; volunteered for a Oregonian politician’s campaign and attended his opponent’s campaign meetings in disguise; worked in over twenty libraries in various positions; and volunteered at Open Books here in Chicago coaching children to write their own stories. He has been married for nine years to the most awesome woman in the known galaxy and occasionally cleans the litter boxes of the two most awesome cats in the universe, Jack and Felix.
What was your inspiration for your minisode?
As I listened to the last few episodes from last season, I saw the need for a character that was a nobody, a Rosencrantz/Guildenstern type. I wanted to write about someone so marginal, he could float through the town with little notice. He would know the main characters and their stories through the humdrum of daily life, but they would take no notice of him. James Johnstone was far from a dullard; he was blessed with a photographic memory and an ability to read people. He hid his sharp mental talents simply because he saw no practical reason for them, and his “punishment” was to continue his life until he had an opportunity to display those talents in the form of recalling the lost history of Pleasure Town.
How are you similar to JJ? In what ways are you different?
I seem to share Johnstone’s invisibility as well as his agnosticism and a wry sense of humor. He and I share a paradoxical need to express ourselves while remaining behind an opaque curtain. He is far mentally sharper than I am, even at his age, and his tastes are much simpler than mine.
What was the greatest challenge in writing the character of JJ?
Knowing when to stop. Johnstone has the makings of a complex, intriguing character, and I would love it if I had the opportunity to continue his story. I feel there’s so much to write about him, and I had to hold myself back from belting out another dozen or so pages just on the first night of creation. I hope Johnstone is liked by the Pleasure Town listeners.
If you lived in PleasureTown, what would be your occupation and or/pastime?
I’m a librarian by trade – I work part-time at two high school libraries in the Chicago suburbs – but with Cyrus hogging all the books, it would be difficult running a library in Pleasure Town. I guess I’d open a small general store and a literary press while brewing liquor in the back.
Listen to Minisode 3 now!