Thursday, February 17, 2011
We have a new author today. He is Kris Saknussemm- the writer of Zanesville and Private Midnight- a bestseller in France. His latest book is Enigmatic plot.
Review of Enigmatic Plot by Kirkus-
Ripe with symbolism, conspiratorial metaphors and fabulist intents, Saknussemm's third novel (Private Midnight, 2009, etc.) is an allegorical American frontier experience.
It's the 1840s, and Hephaestus Sitturd, son of an itinerant Baptist preacher and a half-Shawnee woman, marries Rapture Meadhorn, whose escaped slave grandfather was a Creole Gullah from the Carolina sea islands. Rapture is an herbalist and healer, valued in the wilderness community of Zanesville, Ohio, but Hephaestus is a tinkerer, intent on building a Time Ark to confront the end-of-the-world prophecies of one William Miller. To the pair is born Lloyd Meadhorn Sitturd, a preternatural genius. At age six, he speaks multiple languages, solves complicated mathematical problems and constructs assorted airships. Dogged by debts and persecuted by bigots, the trio sets out for Amarillo to join Micah Jefferson Sitturd, Hephaestus' half brother, a former Texas Ranger. And thus begins a trek, not Pilgrim's Progress, not an Odyssey, but rather a tropological literary journey down the Ohio to Porkopolis (Cincinnati), across to St. Louis and up the Missouri to Independence. Along the way Lloyd meets Henri St. Ives, a gambler with a fantastical mechanical hand, Professor Mulrooney, married to identical twins who serve as assistants in his traveling medicine show, Urim and Thurimmun, microcephalics deposited in Illinois by a tornado, an underground oracle, and possible agents of the Spirosians and the Vardogers, two secret societies. There's time for Lloyd to fall in love with Hattie, a runaway slave, and attempt interpretation of the scripture of the Quists, a persecuted religious sect. Despite the fabulist plot, Saknussemm's imagination and narrative skills hold the adventure together. Written in connected sequences, the book opens with a surrealistic prologue set in 1869. A young lieutenant on a Great Plains mapping mission observes a man mounted on a mule holding a white gyrfalcon. Is it Lloyd? Readers can only imagine, for the book ends as the Sitturd party sets out from Independence toward Texas.
Manifest Destiny meets magic realism.
FAVORITE COLOR: Sulfur yellow.
FAVORITE AUTHOR: Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, Phillip K. Dick, Walker Percy, William Burroughs.
FAVORITE BOOKS: Gulliver’s Travels, Tristram Shandy, Moby-Dick, The Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, The Moviegoer, Cities of the Red Night.
ZODIAC SIGN: Cancer.
PLACE OF MY DREAMS: Antarctica (haven’t been)…Papua New Guinea (know well).
My Motto: “At the first sign of doubt, let alone failure, always become more ambitious.”
1. Is the life of a writer how you imagined it to be?
The life of a writer is much harder than I imagined, given so much initial success and strong reviews. It’s becoming harder for everyone.
2. What genre do you write? Why?
My work is generally classed as Speculative Fiction…somewhere between the genres of fantasy and science fiction and traditional literary fiction. I consciously try to blur those boundaries because I believe they are blurred in life as well as in publishing.
3. What kind of characters do you like?
I’m inspired by all strenuous or subtle efforts of the imagination, but I particularly appreciate artists and thinkers who reveal previously hidden relationships and connections—who make me reconsider. I believe in a constant process of re-evaluation of assumptions.
4. What kind of settings do you enjoy?
I can enjoy grandiose and bizarre imaginative settings as well as highly “realistic” ones. I’m always looking for that “trap door” moment when character and setting merge into drama and uncertainty.
5. Which genre out of comedy, sci-fi/fantasy and romance is your favorite?
I’m highly suspicious of anyone who doesn’t enjoy finely wrought comedy in any form. Just as I am wary of those who don’t enjoy erotica well done. My own work seeks to incorporate both into a nominally science fiction/fantasy frame, but with literary and philosophical edgings that I hope lift my writing beyond the easily categorized.
6. Have you ever suffered from writer's block? How do you deal with it?
My experience of writer’s block has all to do with too many ideas—too much freight for the tracks I’d laid in the moment to bear. I’ve never felt stumped. I have indeed felt overwhelmed and confused.
7. What message would you like to give your fans?
The message I would give to fans is thank you—for making my work, the essential part of how I see myself—a part of their lives in some way.