Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Next Best Thing: Eric Norris

Linked by: Emanuel Xavier

The Rules: Answer the ten questions about your current book or work-in-progress and tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

What is the working title of your book?

Michael Furey.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was cleaning out my closet over Christmas and I found my old journals. There are about 900 pages and they run from 1987 to about 2004. I never thought very much of what they contained but I started reading them and I was surprised with what I found. I found myself, my forgotten self, my real self, the person I was before I was on Facebook. I had just moved to New York from Boston. I found myself at Columbia University, cataloging books under the supervision of a sadistic Czech straight out of Kafka. I experienced the mental collapse of one boyfriend as I abandoned him for another. I studied a paystub, deciding between rice and new socks. I praised God for bottomless cups of coffee and played pool in the basement of the Hungarian Pastry Shop. I smoked incessantly. I attended choral Vespers at St. John the Divine so I could see the great rosette stained glass window saturated with glory in the summer dusk. I contemplated suicide when it was hot. I learned to live without air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter. I improvised sleds out of cardboard boxes. I wrote my first real poem, a love poem, to persuade my boyfriend not to leave me. He left anyway. With poetic justice, I heard my glasses plop into the Hudson as I was fucking a particularly sweet piece of anonymity: and I did not miss a beat—knowing those glasses were gone and Michael was gone and I might as well get off and get on with life. Art would have to wait. In those notebooks, I found New York as I first experienced it: fully illustrated, in the richest colors of innocence and experience imaginable.

What genre does your book fall under?

I am using four books as models: Candide, Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, Dubliners, and Speak, Memory. Fiction is the safest category. I will have to combine characters, change names, and invent dialogue that I can’t remember.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no idea. I would hate to see anybody else saddled with the burden of trying to be me. Even I can’t do it. And I have been trying for 44 years.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

It could be worse.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I don’t know. I might shop it around and see if there are any nibbles. I normally like to publish things myself.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I am still writing it. I have about 10,000 words so far. I hoped it would take a year. But novel writing is new to me and I am a pretty stern and unforgiving taskmaster. Maybe two or three years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That is a difficult question. I am consciously using four other books as points of reference, as I mentioned up above, but I wouldn’t want to compare them.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

There is a scene at the end of Joyce’s Dubliners where a wife tells her husband about the first man she loved, a lad named Michael Furey. She enters a convent and Michael Furey dies—of a chill he caught imploring her to run away with him. I have been fascinated with that scene and that decision ever since I read the story, ‘The Dead’, in high school. For years, I wondered how I would react in a similar situation. When I moved to New York, I didn’t exactly find myself in a convent, but I did find myself jobless, rapidly running out of money, stuck in a lonely relationship with somebody I didn’t love. Then, I found a job at Columbia. There, I met a beautiful young man named Michael. We went out for beer, Guinness. After five or six pints, he confessed his love for Dostoyevsky and short guys. I confessed my love of long hair and Joyce. He invited me to come to his apartment. I went. In that instant, art became life and life became art. I only realized what I had done to myself and everybody else in my journals when I read again about how I lost my glasses in the Hudson. In fact, I think that will be the final scene in the book: losing my glasses in the Hudson. I have just decided.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There will be library sex. Everybody loves library sex. Even librarians.

Who I’m tagging: