Jim Lange Published

Absurdities Observed: An Interview With Author Richard Hartman

Photo of Richard Hartman

I met Richard Hartman, West Virginia native and author of “A Night in the Woods — And Other Absurdities of Life,” through a mutual friend of ours. He was teaching history then at West Virginia State University, and we started talking about the follies of trying to get — and keep — the attention of college students.

He said he felt as if teaching were a performance art and in order to keep the kids awake, you had to entertain as much as teach them. I couldn’t agree more.

Hartman has such an engaging, self-effacing, dry wit that makes those around him burst into laughter. He’s been many things in his life — forest ranger, paramedic, administrative law judge, community grants manager, legislative analyst and professor. As a storyteller, he shares stories that get straight-to-the-point. As much as absurdity and humor play a large role in his stories, there’s a depth of kindness and humanity that comes through as well.

We discussed writing, being a lost forest ranger, his beloved first dog, adolescent dinosaur hunters, a mishap while a paramedic and the non-dating of online dating.

“A Night in the Woods — And Other Absurdities of Life” is now available at Taylor Books in Charleston. He will be there on Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. to read selections and sign his book.

Listen to this interview — along with a great mix of music — on Eclectopia this Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. on WVPB radio.