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Original Essays | August 20, 2014 0 comments
Saint Paul, August 2014 Dear Professor Fitger, I've been asked to say a few words about you for Powells.com. Having dreamed you up with a ball-point... Continue »
Jeff ParkerDescribe your latest project.
Ovenman tells the heartfelt tale of an anthropomorphized industrial stove with superpowers and a yellow Post-it-note cape. No, not true, though I've been accused of dangling a superherosque red herring with that title. Ovenman is actually the position in the Central Florida pizza restaurant where the narrator, When Thinfinger, works. I'd read tons of books about waiters and waitresses and decided to write one from the perspective of a serenely drunken, skateboarding, kitchen worker for whom the most important thing is the delectation and care he takes in, for instance, pepperoni placement, the cutting of perfectly geometric slices, and the mopping of the restaurant floor. Such obsessions invariably invite problems in other areas of life: When and his girlfriend, Marigold, who dreams he murders her and decorates the apartment in skulls, begin to drift apart. Not helping matters is the fact that When relies on his drunken self to fill in the memories of his sober self via Post-it notes, which he in turn uses as material for the punk songs he writes but which he's not allowed to sing because his bandmates, dubious of his ability, require that he sing only the band's name, "Wormdevil," to each song. Frustrations mount, Marigold has an accident on a bike, When's beloved pizza restaurant is robbed, and, while he has no memory of it, he seems to be the one who's robbed it.
What fictional character wouldn't I like to date? Oh, man. At the top of the list would be comic and cartoon heroines, who I've always had a thing for: Betty and Veronica, with Betty slightly edging out Veronica. Then there is Daphne from Scooby Doo and Lisa Simpson (in human time she has to be at least 20 years old by now). I've just realized something: in real life I'm crazy about brunettes, but in cartoon characters I am all about blondes. After cartoon characters would come Raskolnikov's good prostitute Sonia, because any woman who is purely a symbol of redemption is all right by me and Sabina from Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being, who loves to the utmost of her ability and to the limit of what circumstances allow and is at peace with that.
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Writers are better liars than other people: true or false? Why, or not?
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
"I shudder at the notion of Doctor Stacy Ryson and State Senator Glen Menninger remarking this update at some fund-raising soiree oh, the snickers, the chortles, the wine-flushed glances, and later, perhaps, the puppyish sucking of body parts at a nearby motor lodge. Shudder, in fact, is not quite the word for the feeling. Feeling is not quite the word for the feeling. How's bathing at knifepoint in the phlegm of the dead? Is that a feeling?"
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Name the best television series of all time, and explain why it's the best.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
My five favorite story collections or short novels by Eastern Europeans, who are unmatched at suffering and comedy:
The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol by Nikolai Gogol
Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz
Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms by Daniil Kharms
Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera
The Galosh and Other Stories by Mikhail Zoschenko
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Jeff Parker is the author of Ovenman.