Focus: Enter David Duchovny’s (Half) Jewish New York, Through His New Novel

Focus sits down with David Duchovny to talk about the backstory behind his new book, Bucky F***ing Dent.

By Stefanie Iris Weiss

For both David Duchovny and the protagonist of his latest novel, “Bucky F*cking Dent” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) literary talent runs in the family. The “X-Files” actor and late-blooming musician is the descendant of several generations New York writers. The son of a Jewish father and a Scottish mother, he grew up in the East Village.

When I sat down with him at Barnes & Noble before a reading he gave last week, I asked, “What’s the most Jewish thing about you?”

“My sense of humor,” he said, without missing a beat.

Mr. Duchovny’s on-screen comic chops are well-known, from his early appearances on the late Garry Shandling’s “Larry Sander’s Show” to his starring role in “Californication.” But his incisive wit really shines on the page, where he paints scenes so hilarious they might make you spit out your coffee.

His first novel, “Holy Cow,” an allegory about industrial agriculture featuring a talking cow, a wise-cracking turkey, and a pig who travels to Israel to convert to Judaism (getting circumcised along the way) was released to critical acclaim last year.

“Bucky F*cking Dent” is a Phillip Roth-esque story of an estranged father and son set against the 1978 World Series between the Yankees and the Red Sox. It’s both uproariously funny and deeply moving. Ted Fulllilove is a struggling novelist who slings peanuts at Yankee stadium to support his meager existence. When he finds out that his father, Marty, is dying of lung cancer, he moves back into his Park Slope childhood home to take care of him – but mostly to learn how to love him again. The Bucky Dent of the title, a player for the Yankees, earned his moniker from Red Sox fans when the home run he hit ended up winning the Yankees the division title.

Duchovny’s late father, Amram Ducovny, worked for the American Jewish Committee in New York City and later for Brandeis University in Boston. Amram wrote a number of non-fiction books and published his first novel at 72. David’s grandfather, Moshe Ducovny, was a journalist who wrote about theater for this very publication. Even his step-grandfather (who entered his life after Moshe died when Mr. Duchovny was an infant) worked in the literary arts.(Amram and Moshe removed the “h” from the surname; David reinserted it.)

Duchovny, it turns out, is a bit of a mensch (albeit an extremely handsome, charming mensch). I spoke to him about growing up half-Jewish in New York City, and what it’s like to raise kids and make art here now.

Read the full interview on Focus’s website here.

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