Heaven: A novel about three slackers moving a couch, that touches on science, intuition, clairvoyance, romance, philosphy, capitalism, dreams, psychology, mindfulness, friendship, travel, … and that’s the short list. I love stumbling on these indie treasures, this one from Small Beer Press, by such an interesting young writer, living with his interesting writer wife, Laura Moulton, and family, in indie-everything Portland.
One of my favorite writers about writing, William Kenower, regularly does interviews with a wonderful collection of literati: highbrow, lowbrow, and from every place between.
I’ve only dipped into this shining trove a few times, but of those times my favorite is the interview with Jonathan Evison. His novel, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (later made into a sweet Paul Rudd movie, The Fundamentals of Caring) is an all-time favorite.
Here’s a transcribed excerpt from the interview, to tempt you into watching the whole thing. (It’s only about five minutes long.)
“… the things that my characters will always have in common is that they are self-conscious … have a healthy sense of self-contempt … but they want to change. … We love people for their eccentricities and their weaknesses, more so than their strengths.”
“If you’re writing to be published you’re wasting your time … (even if) you do succeed … you’re (still) wasting your readers’ time. … Write because you love to write.”
There’s so much more good stuff in the interview than those brief excerpts:
Bonus: (At least for me): Our soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Nicole Persun, and her father, Terry Persun, both published authors, are friends with Mr. Evison and with Bill Kenower. I want to squeeze myself into one of their meet-ups with these two. Please???
Bill Kenower, author of Fearless Writing
When I was a boy I wanted to disappear into stories and music. The books I read couldn’t be long enough and the songs I listened to couldn’t be loud enough. I certainly loved playing football and Whiffle ball and Dungeons & Dragons, but no game I played, no single thing I did in the world seemed to be able to match the purity of stories and songs. While the games I played or the races I ran were tainted with the unfriendly yearnings of achievement and comparison, stories and songs offered no treasure greater than enjoyment for enjoyment’s sake.
I resolved early in my life that I would write stories to make a living, thereby coming as close as possible to living daily in the chaste and friendly confines of art. Unfortunately, I still had to get about in a world that seemed burdened with money and argument and loss. In fact, it was where I spent most of my time. I could not fully reconcile the uncomfortable difference between art and what I called life, and so I lived with a permanent, if noble, melancholy. It seemed like the only honest response.
Then what happened is I fell in love. Though really, I don’t think anyone falls in love. What actually happened is that I was moping about the world when I spotted someone and recognized something in her that I had been looking for more of in myself. It was as pure an experience as any song or story. Her company gained me nothing or won me nothing except her company, and that was treasure enough.
I have to admit it was hard to let go of the melancholy. I had become mildly addicted to its nobility. Yet it was increasingly hard to square with loving someone. I was tempted to put romantic love into the same special category as art, a pure experience removed from the dirty daily business of mere survival, but to do so would be to ignore that what I saw in her and I had begun to see in everyone and everything.
In fact, the closer I looked, the less difference I perceived between the world in which I survived and the stories and songs into which I had once wanted to disappear. The closer I looked, the more everything blurred together, the more everything seemed to grow from the same garden, until what separated us seemed no more meaningful than the space between words on a page.
Best book on Writing (and Living) I’ve read in a long, long while.