The New Yorker: Who Does David Duchovny Think He Is?

The ex-“X-Files” star, publishing his fourth novel this month, visits his old haunts in the East Village and extolls the virtues of rising early and blooming late.

Two of David Duchovny’s biggest pet peeves, in coverage of his work as an actor and a novelist, are bad puns referencing “The X-Files” and any suggestion that his fancy education—Princeton (undergrad) and Yale (M.A. in English lit)—accounts for his aptitude as a writer. Duchovny finds both defaults lame. The emphasis on alma maters is a corollary of the kind of thinking that prompts people to say, on hearing that an actor has published a novel, “Who does he think he is?”

David Duchovny
David Duchovny Illustration by João Fazenda

“Who does anyone think they are?” Duchovny asked the other night, in his familiar gentle deadpan. “You have to have an ego to think you have the right to publish anything. It’s a fine question to ask: Who the fuck do you think you are?” He was in the midst of revealing a little bit about who he is, or thinks he is, by way of a sentimental meander through the East Village, the neighborhood of his youth. He’d just gone to see his mother, who is ninety-one, in her apartment on Ninth Street: a rare visit, in this covid year. He’d brought her a copy of his new novel, “Truly Like Lightning,” out this month. It is his fourth, all of them published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Does she read them?

“No. She just feels the weight of them.”

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