01 June, 2007


Steven Augustine recently interviewed, or rather intraviewed, the novelist and épateur Gerard Jones. I'd never heard of Jones, but Augustine is quite a fan of his first novel, Ginny Good. The exchange is fascinating as a record of weakness—at first, the weakness of backhand serves praying for aces, boringly deflected by Augustine's subject—then the weakness of a continuous rally trying desperately to bat the same ball—and finally, as Augustine makes a discovery and starts pinching the right nerves, the weakness of Jones' neurosis emerging in insistent repetition. Go read it.

I said to Steven that I've long wanted to interview someone for the Varieties, someone beyond the world of blogs, someone 'out there'—not necessarily eminent, but with whom at least I might make some timeworthy waves. The question is who. Any suggestions?

Back to London today. A good weekend to you all.


P said...

holford-strevens seems up your alley.

Steven Augustine said...

"The exchange is fascinating as a record of weakness..."

It's more like a misbegotten ode to mischievous misinterpretation, and highly selective misanthropy. Part One was me lobbing twee-gnomic softballs and hoping for free-associated homeruns; Part Two was a non sequitur-plagued effort to salvage Part One; and Part Three was what the whole thing was really about in the first place!

Live and learn (and post the results)...there's an online motto for you...(larf).

May said...

Have a safe trip back!

chris miller said...

I'm curious how Part 3 of the interview was conducted.

Was it produced in real time -- like a recorded phone call ? It doesn't seem like the interviewee had much time to reflect on responses that seem closer to a resentful, drunken rant than to a carefully considered position.

But since the interviewee seems pleased with the results (he links to the interview from his own site), maybe the problem here is not with the style of interview.

Why should we be interested in Gerard Jones, anyway ?
What's so great about his books ?

Steven Augustine said...

Chris, Gerard has mastered the conversational literary style that led you to assume that the responses he had the better part of a week to craft were spontaneous. He's a stubborn outsider and a real writer, in my opinion, whether his memoir-ish first novel grabs you or not; it's not every day that a man wills himself into print from as far out in the wilds that Gerard did it; I wanted to address that feat. That I couldn't, in the end, was as much a result of my faulty line of experimental questioning as Gerard's refusal to stray too far from the beam of his (in my opinion) unfortunate "message".

He feels he's warning the rest of us ("Jews" included) and I feel he's hurting some feelings (or worse) for no good reason. He thinks I'm brainwashed and I think he's brainwashed but we're virtual friends.

Re: "Why should we be interested in Gerard Jones, anyway?"

That question seems to presume that I think "we" should be. I did the interview because *I'm* interested in Gerard Jones; the handful of other interviews I do will be for the same sort of selfish reason.

chris miller said...

So, Steven... did Gerard take up to several days to reply to each of your responses (there were 22 of them) --
or did the two of you run through the entire conversation quickly -- and then give him a week to edit the whole thing ? (and did he edit the text of your responses as well ?)

I'm a bit surprised that he (or anyone) would be proud - or even content - with the final version -- but then, maybe I've be 'brainwashed' too !

Persephone said...

This is quite interesting. Looking forward to further developments.

Croeso'n ôl i Lundain.

Steven Augustine said...

Chris, the conversation was held via email and took three or four weeks from its very beginning until its very end (with part three taking up a week of that). Gerard had final say over his words (I didn't touch a one) and I had final say over mine.

I sent Gerard the finished document for his approval well before posting it; any second thoughts he might have had would have been easily addressed (in that this is not a print medium) and he was completely happy with his contribution.


"Further developments" as in my next interview being an inadvertent platform for a Basque separatist? I hope not! (laugh)

Persephone said...

Hmm . . . a Basque separatist screed wouldn't be nearly as fascinating as this "virtual friendship," I don't think.