Author and Friend

The ups and downs of author M. Dylan Raskin's life


Story and photos by Sabrina Noel

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M. Dylan Raskin
Photo courtesy of M. Dylan Raskin

Growing up in Queens, N.Y., wasn’t always easy for M. Dylan Raskin.  So much, in fact, that in October 2004, Raskin declared he had run away from home.  “When I look back at that period, I regard it with a bit of fondness. I’m not sure why that is, exactly, because it was absolute hell at the time,” he says.  Raskin describes himself during those days as being a miserable son of a gun.  His mother had just died a nightmarish death from ovarian cancer; he had nowhere to go, no money, and no direction.

“But in the midst of that desperation, I got an education that no school of higher education could ever provide me with,” Raskin says, referring to his experience with homelessness.  Luckily, during this time, he had a car to live out of—a 1996 Toyota RAV4.  Raskin still owns the vehicle today, describing it as fairly roomy inside and dead reliable.  “My Toyota played a large role in my homeless saga,” Raskin says. 

A good portion of his time was spent in central New Jersey, where Raskin had cousins that he looked up.  “I can recall many nights having dinner with them, and they also helped me to find work,” Raskin says.  He ended up doing miserable, back-breaking jobs for two entities: the East Brunswick Public Works Department, and the East Brunswick Parks Department.  “Each job sucked in its own way. I had to put up with a lot of mean, nasty pieces of sewerage who hated the world,” he says. 

"Quaint. I’d save up all year to go to a place like this. It’s a world of difference."

One particular memory comes to mind for Raskin: the first birthday he ever spent alone, in December 2004.  “I was a stranger in a strange town where nobody knew me from a hole in the wall,” he says.  Raskin says he can’t remember how the subject came up, but the guy sitting next to him during lunch break asked when his birthday was.  “Today,” Raskin answered. 

There was a brief pause, and with a pat on the back, the man wished him a happy birthday.  “A year prior to that, I’d been surrounded by family and friends in my home, celebrating my stinking birthday. Now, I was surrounded by strangers who didn’t care about me, and whom I didn’t care about, and one of them was wishing me a happy birthday. It killed me,” Raskin says. This is also the time when Raskin began writing his memoir, Little New York Bastard.

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A friendly place to think.

Raskin says, “I didn’t always want to be an author. I was jobless, living at home with mom, and had no training.”  In about a year, Little New York Bastard was complete.  The book contains Raskin’s encounters and experiences in New York, and his prediction of “being born in the wrong place.” Raskin felt this way because he “hated people and crowded, disgusting places.”

 He had a difficult time getting anyone from the publishing houses in Manhattan to look at his work, including Random House, Doubleday, SoHo Press, and Harper Collins.  But eventually, with a lot of persistence, Raskin made progress and got his first book published by the publishing house Four Walls Eight Windows in 2003.

"Could be next year, could be in ten years. I have no idea when the right time will present itself." 

When expressing his thoughts on publishers, Raskin says “They only care about getting something,” and as for the New York media, “They’re phony and just want to make a buck."  Although his words may stem from a lot of truth, Raskin was contracted to write a second memoir entitled Bandanas & October Supplies.  His second book was written after his mother’s death.  The content of the book reflects on that and speaks about being on the road.  Raskin admits that when he made enough money from Bandanas & October Supplies, he wanted to relocate to Lake George, N.Y.  But instead he was able to afford a house in Jay, N.Y.  He resides there today with his dog, Esme.

Raskin says the North Country is “Quaint. I’d save up all year to go to a place like this. It’s a world of difference,” he says.  He prefers this area much more than Queens, which he says is like being in jail.  Until he gets back to writing, one thing Raskin enjoys is hiking in the area.  He says he very much likes the “no one bothers you” factor that we have here, something he says he didn't find in other places he’s lived and visited.

"When I look back at that period, I regard it with a bit of fondness."

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Raskin's written works are on display at the Koffee Kat.

Presently, Raskin is taking time out from writing and traveling. He says his writing is a “coming and going” scenario, adding that his next work “Could be next year, could be in ten years. I have no idea when the right time will present itself.”  Until he begins his third book, Raskin has been hanging out in Plattsburgh and the Adirondacks.  He’s also been working at a well-known coffee shop on Margaret Street called the Koffee Kat. 

His co-worker, Jason Ormsby, describes Raskin as, “A nice guy, friendly and sassy.”  His employer and best friend, Patty Waldron, says, referring to Little New York Bastard, “It was nice to come from the perspective of an angry youth and how they evolve, and how they can see through the systems. It was a fast and fun read."

 

What do you think of Little New York Bastard or Bandanas & October Supplies?

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