Irvine (Gus Dreams of Biting the Mail Man)
Were there any particular writers or stories that influenced the
writing of the story that will be appearing in Trampoline?
If so, how exactly did they influence the writing of your story?
This story has a little bit of each of the Beats in it, a touch of
Phil Dick, and a bit of Kenneth Fearing. The alchemy of the interaction
I don't understand -- mostly I wanted to write a story about people
who like working a lousy job, and about the strangeness of strangers.
And of course the whole thing started when I re-read The Time Machine
and wondered what the hell really happened to the prototype.
What's your favorite cocktail?
Tom Collins, for some reason
Which of the seven deadly sins is your favorite these days?
Sloth. Sloth seems elysian to me these days.
What's your favorite rule of thumb?
Don't take any wooden nickels. Mostly because I'm always waiting
for an exception to come along and prove this rule.
Do you have any pets? How many? And if so, how do they affect
your writing (if at all)?
Well, this story wouldn't have been written if I hadn't actually
had a dog named Gus who eternally wanted to bite the mailman. He recently
went to the big hot dog farm in the sky, and we are currently petless.
Not for long, though.
So, come out with it, already -- you really believe in alien abductions.
Don't you? All sci-fi writers do...right?
Who told you to ask me this?
What has it got in its pocketses?
It's holding, for sure.
Biographical sketch of someone you know:
Wes Graves grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota, and moved to Ypsilanti,
Michigan with the encouragement of his high-school girlfriend, who
dumped him the day he got there. At the time he owned an orange Volvo,
which as far as anyone knows is still in the garage of a house near
the Eastern Michigan University campus. He has been a baker, pinball-machine
technician, and all around good joe. He nurses an inordinate fondness
for guitar accessories, and now lives in Denver, Colorado.
Where do you hope to haunt when you're gone (or, I guess, when
you come back)?
I want to haunt a place that doesn't exist any more, a sandwich shop
in Ann Arbor called Drake's that operated from the twenties until
the early nineties under the ownership of a guy named Truman Tibbels.
It was painted olive green, had wooden booths, two counters with candy
in jars, autographed pictures of Blackstone the Magician. You could
get ice cream or a sandwich named for a Big Ten university or just
drink coffee all day for a quarter. Upstairs was the Martian Room,
with trombones on the wallpaper and a constant atmosphere of furtive
lust. In the back, an actual phone booth with a door that closed.
A place from another time. Now it's been turned into a Bruegger's
Bagels, which is an incalculable loss.
What are your favorite kids' books? What was your favorite when
you were a kid (say, 10)?
10, hmm. The Swiss Family Robinson, Space Angel, second time
through The Lord of the Rings, the Earthsea books, baseball
biographies, and a submarine book whose title I can't remember by
a guy named Robb White.
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").
I used to believe that football was manly. Then I started watching
What book or books do you press upon friends?
Jim Dodge's Stone Junction, almost anything by Philip K. Dick,
Charles Portis' The Dog of the South, good books by people
What can we, as a group, do to increase the popularity of multi-stage
bicycle racing as a spectator sport in America?
An anthology called Peleton, perhaps.
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?
Story, man. The first stories you hear as a kid aren't about suburban
adultery, they're about mystical artifacts and dangerous monsters
and all kinds of stuff that doesn't exist but should. Those are the
stories that you cut your teeth on, and those are the stories you
(by which I mean me) want to read and write.
My story has a semi-wild chimpanzee in it; does yours?
You didn't see it?
Have you found that during the Reagan-Bush-Bush-Quayle-Bush-Cheney
era the quality of your writing has gotten a little dodgier?
only been writing during the last half of this unfortunate sequence,
so I'm still new enough at it to hope I'm getting better.
If you couldn't write what would you do?
Get better at chess, play the guitar more often, act in plays.
What, in your opinion, is the relationship, if any, between the
so-called real world and your particular imaginary one?
In this story? None whatsoever, except the bit about frosting Danish.
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
-- Beth Adele Long