By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Heights writer Ari King graduated from Wesleyan University in the midst of the Great Recession. But rather than letting the economy bring him down, he transformed adverse conditions into something constructive. Compiling more than 60 interviews with college graduates who have pursued diverse paths, King has recently published an inspiring collection titled “Now What?! Conversations about College, Graduation, and the Next Step.” Examining success stories and mishaps, King’s book offers practical and sometimes humorous advice for navigating both college and post-college options.
A native of Oakland, California, King first lived on Wall St. when he moved to New York a few years back. After a year of cramming his belongings into a shared 5-bedroom apartment in which he couldn’t fully open his bedroom door without it hitting the bed, King moved to Clinton Hill and then to Brooklyn Heights.
“I think being in New York has inspired me to always want more,” King told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in a recent interview. "I look around and see people who are on top, who are quite successful and have built and sustained careers for themselves, and that has made me continue to stay here and continue to work. Living in Brooklyn Heights has reinforced that.” King noted that his neighbors’ stunning brownstones – replete with bay windows and spiraling staircases – have helped his work ethic.
“Being in New York has been tough since it is an expensive city and it is stressful, but the flip side is that it has inspired me and pushed me to work harder and be better,” explained King.
King said that some of his interview subjects believe everyone should experience New York in their 20s, while others feel the city is over-stimulating and overrated. The beauty of his book, he contends, is that “everyone has a different story to tell and advice to give. Someone who majored in history and has aspirations of going to law school will have a different take compared to that of a film major who now is thinking of starting her own business or the music major who wants to compose for a Broadway show.”
Among the author’s interview subjects are Kathy Keeler, a job-hopping rower and Olympic gold medalist; Will & Grace creator/producer David Kohan, who got his first break from Sydney Pollack; Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of The Forward, who graduated early to take a newspaper job; actor Bradley Whitford, who lived off ramen and peanut butter after graduation; travel photographer Michael Yamashita, who discovered his passion while unloading cargo in Japan; Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, who worked as a dance class pianist, laundry assistant, and bartender while starting his writing career; Kathleen Clyde, a state representative who contemplated fashion instead of politics; Dina Kaplan, who contemplated TV reporting and ballet and later founded Blip; and the former New York Times Magazine's ethicist, Randy Cohen, who says he studied music but realized he had no musical talent.
King said, “I wrote this book after thinking about how there are guidebooks to cities, and that there should be something comparable for those who are finishing college.”
"Now What?" is available on Amazon.com. If Amazon says the book is 'temporarily sold out,' one may still purchase the book and go through with the ordering process, after which the book will be shipped.