Monday, November 24, 2008

2 1/2 Questions for Amanda Nazario...

...whose sure-fine story, "Big C and Lil Puppet," has just gone live @ Wigleaf.


SG: This story would seem to take its place in the slim niche of dogwalking literature. There's the Ann Tyler novel--Accidental Tourist, is it? The new woman, she's a dog walker, right? I read it a long time ago. Don't know why I keep it around because I'll pretty surely never read it again.... Then there's Arthur Bradford's debut collection, Dogwalker. Now there's a kick-ass book. Have you read it? The dogwalking material isn't as memorable as the mutant puppies material or the having-sex-with-dogs material, but still. Okay, so what's my question? Dogwalking? What you're reading lately? What your dogs are reading?

AN: I love Dogwalker too! Being a dog walker/writer with literate friends, I get asked a lot whether I've read it. Though it deals with dog walking almost not at all, I'm able to relate to it anyway -- Bradford's bizarre/cruel situations, softheartedness, and slightly weird narrative voice are all right up my alley. I think about "Chainsaw Apple," wherein a guy falls in love with a girl after accidentally chainsawing her face, about... once a week. However, my own writing is more similar to Anne Tyler's, if I have to pick between them. Her Saint Maybe is a novel I like; in my longer stuff I aspire to that level (depth? can you aspire to depth?) of sadness. That's a sad book, man. And the dog in The Accidental Tourist is a Corgi, which is my favorite breed of dog, so there's something else she and I have in common. Right now I'm rereading Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, which I read last summer and realized I had to read again -- its articulation of a desperate lifestyle, of absurdity and hilarity in desperation, is addictive. The dogs I walk live better than I do; I think some of them read P.G. Wodehouse.


SG: You're a deejay, and you're a writer. This means that if we ever met at a party and somebody started feeding me cigarettes I would try to talk to you all night about the many possible parallels between the pop song and the story, music and lit.... How would that conversation go (before you started focusing keenly on something beyond my left shoulder)?

AN: The first thing I'd say would be that deejays in clubs learn fast how to deal with drunks who won't shut up. This would make things awkward. I would apologize. Then I'd say I do notice endless similarities between music and literature, and I hope what I write can satisfy people the way a good pop song can. (I choose pop because that's the kind of music I know best; I could try to write a piano concerto-like story, but I doubt it would go very well.) It's exciting to imagine this can happen, that two artistic disciplines so different from each other can produce the same feeling in a person. As literary fiction continues to incorporate new stuff -- by "stuff" I mean drawings, verse, experimentation with visual space, etc. -- there seems to be a lot of room in it for music. Not that this is that new an idea. I'm thinking right now of Dos Passos's interstitial "camera" sections that have song lyrics in them. I guess I just mean I'm excited to see more of that, to see more of a conflation of music with literature, and not just because right now many of my stories contain copyrighted song lyrics that make journals not want to pick them up.


SG: How often do you daydream about...?

AN: Constantly. It's a wonder I get any work done at all.

1 comment:

BlogSloth said...

I dig that story! Really captured PLACE and the people.