Trampoline: an interview
Alan DeNiro, Fuming Woman
What’s your favorite cocktail?
Not much of a cocktail drinker…should I be?
Which of the seven deadly sins is your favorite these days?
What’s your favorite rule of thumb?
Not to always trust rules of thumb (or is it rule of thumbs?).
Who’s been eating my porridge?
I think the world would be a better place if people ate more porridge. It just sounds so good. Porridge! So, the answer is: everyone, I hope.
Who’s there? Betty. Betty who?
I’ll pretend Mr. Barzak answers this question for me: “Betty get your freak on.”
Where is the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
I’ll leave this one for Robert Jordan to answer…
Kennst du das Land wo die Zitronen Bluhn?
Actually, I haven’t listened to Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages” for awhile now.
How should I your true love know?
Skywriting. And bookmarks.
What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?
What has it got in its pocketses?
A wallet, a piece of lint, a key. The usual.
What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?
Richard Perle. Wait, did you say “Bethlehem”? I thought you said “seventh circle of Hell”.
What has it got in its ‘pocalypse?
By me or according to Olaf?
Where do you hope to haunt when you’re gone (or, I guess, when you come back)?
Maybe a Starbucks, or a Fuddruckers. Or go the Ringu route, and maybe upgrade from VHS to DVD. I could haunt an iPod!
What are your favorite kids’ books? What was your favorite when you were a kid (say, 10)?
My favorite book when I was ten? Dungeons and Dragons Basic Edition Player’s Manual.
What’s the most favorable sort of weather for your creative process?
Not too hot, not too cold. Porridge weather.
When’s the last time you changed your mind about something? I think I mean a radical shift of personal values — regarding art (“Suddenly, I’m not crazy about Billie Holiday, in fact, I’m not even sure I’m spelling her name right”), regarding anything (“Actually, you can go home again”).
About every three weeks or so for smaller stuff, every six months for larger paradigms.
What book or books do you press upon friends?
Where did you grow up?
Did you ever go to a really low rent amusement park that had trampolines stretched over shallow pits and bounce and bounce and bounce and get really confident and start bouncing from one trampoline to the next but then kind of lose it and bounce in to your cousin Jeff and cause him to fall into a split timber fence and knock out one of his teeth? Did you ever do that?
Accidents involving teeth give me the willies.
What can we, as a group, do to increase the popularity of multi-stage bicycle racing as a spectator sport in America?
Do what we, as a group, do about any major societal problem in America: make a zine about it.
I once had a creative writing teacher tell me that he didn’t understand why authors used science fiction or magical realism to tell a story or impart a theme. Why do you think we do, when good old realism might do the trick?
Ray Davis said it best: “Restricting yourself to mainstream fiction in the late twentieth century is like restricting yourself to heroic tragedy after 1650.” Even more true in the early 21st.
What is the meaning of life?
“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
— Walt Whitman, from the Preface of the first edition of Leaves of Grass, (1855)
What, in your opinion, is the relationship, if any, between the so-called real world and your particular imaginary one?
I have about twenty imaginary worlds. And they’re not even worlds since I am not very good at consistent “world building”. Tendrils instead of worlds. This is sounding really dorky, so I should probably stop.
Can you say something, particularly in light of these grave times, about the writer’s role or responsibility in the creation of work that is purely literary, that is the work of the imagination, as opposed to work that serves more overtly and diras a voice of conscience?
I think all times are more or less grave, and it is only the snowglobe shellac that our now-ness, which our present tense provides us, that we think the “now” is somehow more grave than any other point in history. The Merovingians, the Picts, the late Victorians, the Toltecs…all more or less grave. To the question…I don’t think any work is “pure.” Language itself isn’t ever pure but is always borne by societal expectations. So in theory all writing should be able to bring something to bear to a larger “conscience.” Doesn’t often seem that way. But I don’t think it’s an either or proposition. Good writing, by nature, is subversive. It doesn’t mollycoddle the reader. And so even if it’s subtle, or might not seem political with a capital P, good writing is nevertheless part of a POLIS.
Gertrude Stein said: “I have destroyed sentences and rhythms and literary overtones and all the rest of that nonsense, to get to the very core of this problem of communication of intuition.” The relationship of form to content. Form as it facilitates communication, particularly communication of the remote, of the mysterious. Form as it permits the dramatization of states of mind. As it serves to make comprehensible the incomprehensible. What are your views on this subject?
I think Ms. Stein hit the nail on the head, and if she were alive I’d buy her a beer or three.
Next — Carol Emshwiller