I know about the article because John Landis read it out loud at a PEN Center USA event last Sunday in LA. The event was Forbidden Fruit, PEN’s fundraiser where authors and actors read passages from some of the most banned books of all time. (Lolita, check.) Landis was the emcee. Panio Gianopolous, Maria Bello, Molly Ringwald, Jill Sobule, Frances Fisher, Hill Harper, and others read work from authors like Ken Kesey, Anais Nin, Orwell, Updike, Steinbeck, and Nabokov. All writers whose books might need a trigger warning, I guess.
Do you enjoy keeping your opinions to yourself and being seen but not heard? Have you been looking to de-prioritize parts of your life like “family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, [and] weddings to attend in Rio”? Looking to earn a low-level salary while living in fear of “immediate dismissal” if you don’t answer emails fast enough on a Saturday night? Well then, apply now for a job at Dalkey Archive Press!
Todd Grimson is one of the great living cult novelists. I’ve known him for a few years, under strange circumstances. He wrote Brand New Cherry Flavor, which is both one of my favorite horror novels and my favorite novel about Hollywood and the film industry. He also wrote the underground vampire classic Stainless. Both were recently re-released by Schaffner Press, which is now publishing his new collection of stories, Stabs at Happiness, in pleasing hardcover.
I asked Todd some questions about Stabs at Happiness and about his strange life and career.
For a while, you assumed the name “I. Fontana” and published stories in BOMB, Juked, The Quarterly, Lamination Colony, Word Riot, PANK, the Voice Literary Supplement, Bikini Girl, Spork and many others. We corresponded for some time before I knew your real name. Why did you adopt that name?
I read Benjamin Anastas’s novel An Underachiever’s Diary a while back and liked it. I read these Salon and Daily Beast excerpts from his new memoir Too Good to BeTrue today and I feel profoundly anxious about money, relationships, and–most of all–writing as a career.
The New Yorker‘s diaeresis tic bothers some people. It’s the double-dot thing they put in words like “coöperate” to tell you to pronounce both syllables. It’s also “the single thing that readers of the letter-writing variety complain about most.” As I read this piece about it, I kept waiting for Mary Norris to announce that they’d finally decided to change their style. But apparently the diaeresis lives on. What do you think, is the diaeresis annoying or endearing? (I like it.) Diaeresis.
Speaking of Egon Schiele and “Adrien Brody,” Jezebel ran an exclusive exposé in November about the novel You Deserve Nothing, by Alexander Maksik. You Deserve Nothing is about a thirty-something teacher at an American international school in Paris who has an affair with, and impregnates, one of his seventeen-year-old students. Turns out (according to Jezebel) Maksik was a teacher at an American international school in Paris who had an affair with, and impregnated, one of his seventeen-year-old students.
Sleeping Beauty, the mesmerizing, disquieting first film directed by Australian novelist Julia Leigh, was the most psychologically penetrating work in any medium that I encountered this year. It’s weird how the most impenetrable works can also be the most penetrating.