Through the Black Hole » JOE R. LANSDALE – Interview

JOE R. LANSDALE – Interview

Written by Giulio De Gaetano

I think that everyone who partecipates in Through the Black Hole knows something about  Joe R. Lansdale, both for the merits gained by work of writer/screenwriter and for great availability. In this article we don’t wanna to delve into his artistic life-path, but to touch problems tormenting the present days: from the homicide/suicide of young boy in Winnenden to economic collapse, from Obama’s election to Berlusconi’s re-electing. A voyage experienced together with a determined and cordial person, a man who built-up clear ideas about todays troubles.

Your style turns from cold/icy description of violence (we can remember a lot of “Waltz of Shadows” episodes) to a warmth descending into the inner suffering (for example different moments of “Sunset and Sawdust”), could you explain to the young italian writers what is the method you follow to write using a so dynamic prose?
Some of my answers are going to be very unsatisfying, because I don’t really have a method. I sort of feel it out as I go, and a lot of what I do is just a reflection of my personality, or how I think a scene will play best and be most interesting to me. I don’t worry too much about the reader because I don’t know which reader I’m writing for. All readers vary. The only reader you can write for is yourself.

In “The Nightrunners” we stare at a savage manhunt by Brian and his gang hands to the detriment of a couple. Vengeance theme debases with the human madness one, dragging relentlessly main characters into a whirlpool of violence, with death as summit. Have you drown inspiration from some current event or has it been a collage of news daily absorbed that pushed you to write the novel?
I suppose it was a collage, but there was one article I read about juvenile violence. It may have been in Texas Monthly. I no longer remember, but there was an article about violence and about the way certain offenders think, and my wife was studying criminal justice at the time and I read some of her text books, and some research books, and the rest was newspapers, observation and imagination.

Are you a follower of “Stream of Consciousness” (from Joyce time) or of “Recollection in Tranquillity” (as Wordsworth wrote)? Don’t cheat!
I’m not a follower of either one. I use any technique I think makes the story real and interesting to me, but I don’t consciously follow anyone’s approach. I’m sure I borrow from many approaches, but all in service of the story, not in service of an idea or school of thinking.

Could you tell us perverse mechanisms (from a standard point of view) tacked on morbid relationship of Clyde and Brian? It seems a relationship going over the “simple” homosexuality (Ndr, Clyde initiate well talented Brian to the violence “on the road”).
It is really a sort of doppelganger idea, where the two represent a whole, and not a very good one at that. Each is missing something that the other provides, but both are missing things that neither provides, so there’s just a gap, a wide and deep and empty gap.

Recently we are suffering a worldwide economic crisis, seemingly because of wicked economic choises (subprime loans ahead). Moreover there were a lot of “voices” announcing this earthquake, both economists (as Charles Morris) or politician: what do you think are the gears (un)ruling economies like American or European ones?
I think its more greed and ideology than anything else. A monopoly of businesses, including such things as publishing, has limited true capitalism, which I actually adhere to. Capitalism is about doing your own work and letting the market decide its worth, but true capitalism doesn’t have to be brutal. I try to be a benign capitalist. I want all I can get from my work, not a shared percentage. I might be working harder than others, and if I’m not, I don’t need to reap their efforts. I believe true capitalism can embrace ideas from socialism and still be capitalism. Obama seems to me to be on the right track, if people can be patient enough. He’s been in office less than sixty days as I write this, and already people want the problem to be solved.

What d’you think about recent america election crowned Obama? Do you believe he and his team will really shake the right pillars, injecting social changes? We can’t accept the answer: worst than Bush it is impossible!
We don’t crown, we elect. It’s a different way of thinking. Bush was awful, worse president in my lifetime, and I think he got away with things he never would have had their not been so much fear about terrorism. He created more terrorism by his approach. They never understood it wasn’t about Iraq being a democracy, it was about the truth, and we weren’t told a lot of it when it came to Iraq.

In Italy communications media mainly usable from people are controlled from actual prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, to whom (for everyone doesn’t reading news from web) it seems to be heard only positive feedbacks. Could you enlighten us about how is seen Italy (from a social, politic, economic and cultural) from your country?
Here’s my question. You have a lot of complaints about America, which is valid, but the complaints sometimes seem a little hypocritical. Why in the hell did you re-elect Berlusconi? We try to avoid people in power owning the press, but we’re having the same problem now with people like Rupert Murdock. But, we don’t see it as a standard way of doing business, and we buck against it. It’s hard to control Americans from saying what they want to say. I love the fact that we can be stupid eight years, but no more. There’s an end to it when it comes to president. A good rule, I think.

“Shit, I have had enough, I have had enough of this crummy life… Always the same. People are laughing at me, no one recognises my potential … You will hear about me tomorrow. Make note of the name of the place: Winnenden” are (probably) the words written by a seventeen years old who recently killed 16 youth in a school in Winnenden. Another episode seeming to underline a disease sense near to be touchable wafting through youth. Freely, what do you think it’s happening?
The main thing that is happening is there are more people than ever before, and therefore more pressures. It’s not so much about loss of morals as it is about loss of ethics. There’s also less and less family to fall back on. I’m not sure why it has come apart like it has, but for many it has. Having a strong family, I can assure you, it’s a necessary thing. Also, America is a place with so many opportunities, that when people fail to get it they blame the American Dream. The dream is an opportunity, not a promise. But, there is this: there used to be fewer people and more dream to go around.

What films captured you in this part of year 2009? What ones in the horror genre?
You mean 2008. THE WRESTLER, SLUM DOG MILLIONAIRE, FROST/NIXON, DARK KNIGHT, MILK, GRAND TORINO. This year I’ve liked WATCHMEN.

Evey genre of film is built by a mix of elements (set design, cast, director’s style, soundtrack, … ) converging to give life to it. Further general sensation filtered at the end of the film, what are the elements you pay attention to?
I pay more attention to script than anything else, dialogue. That’s my profession, so I have a personal interest in that, but it all matters. Film is a community project.

You can use this last white space to write a message to italian writers who hang out at wide cinema or literary indie universe. Thank you very much for you time.
Enjoy life. There’s nothing else I can add.

Posted in Cinema by Giulio De Gaetano on November 1st, 2011 at %I:%M %p.

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