Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Zoe T. LeRoy Interviews Hot Shot ECW Author Brian Joseph Davis about His New Novel "I, Tania"!

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Zoe T. LeRoy Interviews Hot Shot ECW Author Brian Joseph Davis about His New Novel "I, Tania"!

Brian Joseph Davis is launching his novel I, Tania tonight! You should be there in about one hour from now. I have to go vote and then collapse, as per my hell day at the small press publishing mines, but I'm doing my part by telling you all right now to go buy the book and follow his every innovative move on his website which shows without a doubt, he's cooler than I'll ever be.

ZW: Ok, Mr. Davis, because you asked me to be harsh - what exactly makes this book so great, huh? Who do you think you are?

BJD: Well, as an object it's great to look at. One of the best designs I've
ever done. As far as its literary greatness, that's highly subjective. I
will say this...come for the orgy jokes, stay for for the dialectical
structure. Who am I? After this book, I don't know but I seem to have
become radicalized in a way I haven't been since I was 20. The other day
I got into a light argument with a cop who was stopping pedestrians for
a film shoot. I could have killed that pig...just kidding. I haven't
killed a pig in years.

ZW: This is your second book. How was the process different this time? How did you avoid the second book curse?

BJD: Well, the sophomore slump only happens after a commercial hit and
expectations to duplicate it. "Portable Altamont" was well received by
the critics but didn't have the kind of sales that would make me freak
out about this one. I wrote "I, Tania" without a book deal in place at
the time so there was freedom in writing something and not even knowing
if it would be published. If "Portable Altamont" was The Velvet
Underground and Nico, then "I,Tania" is White Heat/ White Light. It's
harder, louder, and takes way more risks.

ZW: Explain who will be reading what at your launch and why.

BJD: Okay, this goes back to the worst reading I've ever seen. It was a
writer whose novel was narrated by a 12-year-old Ukranian immigrant girl
living in the Lower East Side. And he read this character not only with
a bad put-on accent, BUT IN A LITTLE GIRL VOICE! Do you know what it's
like to try to not laugh while someone is talking about starving in a
refugee camp, using a falsetto, in all seriousness? He sounded like
someone's dad imitating Bjork. So I don't believe I can actually
publicly read much of "I, Tania," which is in Tania's voice. I don't
have the performer chops to pull it off. So I invited several
poets--Bill Kennedy, Damian Rogers, Ken Babstock, and a.rawlings--to
read covers of some of the books I rewrite text from or just reference.
This will include everything from Cujo to Karl Marx.

ZW: Tell me about how you did your celeb research.

BJD: In "Portable Altamont" I used celebrities differently. In that book
their names were empty signs, used in a shotgun approach. I did most of
my research with magazines at the laundromat. But here, it's a novel and
I really wanted to hold a plot so the celebrities used as characters are
very specific. In "I, Tania" there are many hair metal musicians,
athletes of the 80s, Frankfurt School Marxists, and several publishing
executives. Very difficult to use such a limited pallet. But if you're
looking for that "free-celebrity-verse" of "Altamont" I'm writing a
column for Arthur Magazine much like it.

ZW:What's with your celeb obsession? What kind of fame would you like for yourself?

BJD: It's not an obsession. It's just the common vernacular. Have you heard
of imminent critique? A great theory. It means the only critique that's
valuable is one from within and using the structure of capitalism
itself. Everything else is bullshit transcendence...Fuck, I have got to
get off this marxist trip.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Zoe Whittall

Zoe Whittall is the author of the novel Bottle Rocket Hearts (Cormorant, 2007) and two volumes of poetry, The Emily Valentine Poems (Snare, 2006) and The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (McGilligan, 2001).

Go to Zoe Whittall’s Author Page