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10459009_10152214303511127_1046608401945286575_oIn a crumbling-stucco corner house off Frazier Street, lived a boy who believed he was nothing at all.  Nightly, his drunk father’s eyes glowed red, and he spit fiery words, but not until fists hailed down on his mother did the boy run for the space between the stove and cabinets. There he crouched crying, “Coward! Coward!”

He listened hard through screams and breaking for his mother’s breathing. Sometimes she went silent, and he wanted to be more than a boy hiding between the stove and cabinet. There he fingered the black abyss of a crack in the linoleum praying, “Fall in. Fall in. Fall in. Fall in,” and one night his father did.

Deji Olukotun by Beowulf SheehanDeji: I’m not sure what the point of another interview is. What can you tell me that Google can’t?

Bryce: Slow down, there, Deji. You’re way too pushy.

Deji: It’s a Nigerian quality. We like to get things done.

Bryce: You’re half-Nigerian. Anyway, not all Nigerians are like that. Some of them do yoga.

Deji: They were probably disinherited from their families. So, about my question–answer it.

NISCover2015It took four nights of heavy drinking, cajoling, and a wet kiss from Leon’s girl Fadanaz for Thursday to say he would consider going into the water. Even then he never thought it would come to pass. But soon they were sitting in the Merc next to a row of strelitzia palms that wound along a dirt road to the beach in the dusk, their fronds spreading out like press-on fingernails. He would have been able to hear the pounding surf if Leon wasn’t thumping his Kwaito music, and they’d both grown up near the sea so he didn’t smell the seaweed any more. Thursday had resolved that this time he would be firm with Leon—he was not going in the water, there was no way he was going in.

Pattison 1The characters of all your novels are driven to find justice for horrible crimes with no help, and often outright opposition, from their government. Why have you chosen this dynamic for your books?

There is almost never justice in my books except for the makeshift justice wrought by people who have been abandoned by their societies. With my characters forced to navigate by their own innate sense of right and wrong I can explore justice in broader dimensions, including its spiritual and cultural context. The actors in these dramas come from sharply different cultures, with markedly different perspectives and motivations, but they are joined by the common goal of resolving terrible injustice. I have worked in many diverse cultures around the globe and am convinced there is a sense of justice ingrained in the human DNA — it is this instinct that drives my plots and empowers my characters.

Susan Lindheim photoSouthwestern Arkansas, 1934

Lily peeked out the bathroom window and saw that nothing had changed: her mother Rose — wedding band hidden in her purse — was still flirting with the filling station attendant while her grandmother Miriam paced circles around the pale yellow Dodge sedan with the Chihuahua at her heels. One day Miriam’s jitteriness would give them all away, Lily was sure of it. One day they’d all get arrested because Miriam couldn’t just flat out pretend.

Edgar was already gone.

James Tadd Adcox author picBen Tanzer (for TNB): Does Not Love has a lot to say about the state of marriage. Did you start the novel wanting to comment on the state of marriage or did you end up there anyway?

James Tadd Adcox: What has fascinated me about the domestic novel, and novels in general, is this argument that the novel traditionally has been structured by marriage. The form of the novel has been based on the institution of marriage. Marriage is this massive irreversible decision that change dramatically the rest of your life. Once you’re in it you can’t get out of it. The taboo against adultery is like a horror. What can the novel be now that we don’t have the taboo of adultery and divorce exists?

DNL_cover“I don’t want you to kiss me,” Viola says to the FBI agent. “That is a hard boundary for me, I think.”

“No kissing,” the FBI agent says. “Anything else?”

“Could you turn that light down a little bit? Just for right now, anyway.”

“The light has only two settings,” the FBI agent explains. “On or off.”

OishiAuthorPhotos-17You say it took you 50 years to write your novel. What took you so long?

Fifty years ago, I was still a young man and didn’t have much to do, so I thought I would write the great Japanese-American novel. I thought it might a take a couple of years. But I had the time.

 

So what went wrong?

I needed a story. You know, drama with conflict, passion, pathos. Those kinds of things.

fdb_booklanding_kayaweb-676x956The Okie  

1940 – 1941

When school reopened in the new year, Tex was in Hiroshi’s third- grade class. He wore overalls as before, but now he had shoes as well—though they were high-tops, which no other kid, not even farm boys, would ever think of wearing to school. The sole on one of Tex’s shoes was so loose that you could see his toes.

MM&JMTMichael McGriff: Though we never explicitly discussed Richard Brautigan during the writing of Our Secret Life in the Movies, he was and continues to be a huge inspiration for both of us. Looking back at our book, I see Brautigan’s fingerprints everywhere–from structure to style to ranges in tone. You’ve mentioned before that you read Brautigan early. Was there a particular book of his that grabbed hold of you?

our-secret-life-frontALL IT TOOK TO GET RID OF YOU

\ After Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky \

I thought I had woken up. Going out into the hall, I noticed that the front door was open. This was unnerving because I was living alone again after the divorce. The last time I had used the door was early the previous evening when I came home from work. Then I heard someone in the house, fussing around in the kitchen.

It was you in your running clothes. You looked hale and flushed, your breath heaving a little, like it did when you first started jogging. I had made fun of you then, thinking it wouldn’t last, but it was actually one of those minor changes, like listening to new music or suddenly acquiring a hobby like knitting, that heralds a breakup. What was strange about this situation was that the breakup had already occurred, we had agreed not to call or see each other, the old phrases like “space” and “needs” had been dealt and played, and you had no reason to return to our house. You didn’t even have keys anymore.

RVincentWhat would you like people to know about you?

I’m a dystopian novelist who is really much more of an optimist than might appear.  Out of all the countries in the world, I think a major U.S. strength is its ability to rebound.  The danger is the great ideals the country was built upon can slip away after several generations.  My novel centers on a world where that has happened.

TheCauseChapter Four

“Sure the fight was fixed. I fixed it with a right hand.”  -George Foreman

Seee’s chest was scared. Jagged lacerations. Cigarette burns. Near the ribs there were a couple of patchy bullet wounds. Tribal scars were scraped into his biceps, crisscrossing patterns, tic-tac-toe where the scratches seemed to be etched out with a sharp rock or arrowhead. His hands were callused, dirt scratched into his fingernails. Part of his pectoral was cut out, a teaspoon lump of flesh removed. He stuck his finger in the hole and when he removed it, a black ant crawled up his finger before he sucked it off the back of his hand.

P1010530Tyson had been gone for days, finishing a new record with his band. That Sunday morning, when he finally came home, there were warning signs that things weren’t right—every local hermit weirdo was wandering the streets, and Mildred looked frantic, babbling about the mandatory evacuation. She said the mayor was calling it “the storm we’ve long feared.” Tyson had been running hard on cocaine and vodka. He was barely aware that a hurricane was coming. They lived in the Bywater neighborhood, which was already deserted.

Photo on 11-13-14 at 9.49 AMAren’t miniature Shetland ponies wearing argyle sweaters the best?

!!!

 

What do the protagonists in your book do for work?

One of them is a county clerk, one is a drug addict, another is a drug dealer, another is an office worker, another is a porn star, yet another is a history professor, and the last leads survey groups for a multinational food conglomerate. But he quits.