He was kind enough to answer some questions about Bizarro in the U.K., novels and failed ambition.
Outtakes from this interview were published yesterday at Bizarro Central.
Is there a short story written by another author you wish you had written?
Here’s just a few: “Confessions of a Corporate Man” by Bentley Little; “The Baby” by Donald Barthelme; “The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf” by Hans Christian Andersen. All three are wonderfully morbid and/or ridiculous.
What is the current Bizarro movement like in the U.K.?
With the exception of Steve Aylett, I’m not aware of any other British authors who are directly affiliated with Bizarro. There are a couple of small presses: Dog Horn Publishing (publisher of Tom Bradley’s Hemorrhaging Slave of an Obese Eunuch) and Jagged Books (which is looking to publish Bizarro fiction, and currently open for submissions).
Before you read Prunty’s The Overwhelming Urge and Wilson’s The Kafka Effekt (the two books that introduced you to Bizarro fiction), what kind of writer did you consider yourself?
First and foremost, a writer of short stories. I started out attempting to write more serious, literary stories (I’m a big fan of Raymond Carver, believe it or not), but my attempts were rather turgid. So, instead, I let loose all my inner demons of absurdity, with much better results. Then I searched around for other authors as absurd as myself, discovered Eraserhead, and never looked back…
If you ever were to write a novel, what would it be about?
The comically circuitous and ultimately pointless existence of a headless and, therefore, expressionless chicken named Farleigh Fowler. The novel would include, among other things, dismemberment, gratuitous implosions, auto-cannibalism, a legion of evil fetuses, and a river of molten robots channeling into a lake of molten robots. It would climax with the dissolution of the cosmos.
You’ve mentioned that frustrated ambition is your favorite theme. Would you tell us about your second favorite theme? What about your least favorite?
My second favorite theme—one that’s connected to my first—would have to be ageing, a ludicrous process lacking any meaning at all. Stories like “The Marvelous Head,” “Slothra,” “Subsidence,” and “The Lingering Death of Christmas” address this. I suppose my least favorite would, logically, have to be fulfilled ambition. Who wants to read a story about a character whose every dream comes true? Well, probably someone—but I don’t want to be the one to write it.