A.D. Jameson has been everywhere lately and has released two books this as well. I felt it was time to ask him a few questions about his debut novel Giant Slugs, the site he writes for Big Other, and Chicago lit in general.
Chicago Subtext: I love the work you are doing over at Big Other. How did you get involved with that site and what role do you see yourself playing?
AD Jameson: Thanks! I met John Madera in October 2009, at the &NOW Conference in Buffalo, NY; we attended a panel that had been put together by Lily Hoang. Anyway, John posted something at Big Other about the panel, in which he criticized some things I'd said. I felt he'd mischaracterized me, and commented on his post. He responded, I responded, he responded, I responded—you know how the Internet works. After a few days, he wrote me and asked if I wanted to be a contributor (I think Lily suggested it).
And at first I wasn't inclined to, because I didn't know what on earth I'd write about. But then I remembered a long email I was writing to a friend, about the literary merits of Frank Miller's graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Which wasn't working all that well as an email, due to my needing to point to lots and lots of images. So I asked John if I could post that, and he said sure, and so I said yes. And then so I did.
Starting out, I made up a list of rules:
1. No cheer-leading.
2. No just linking to stuff I liked and saying, “Hey, this is cool.”
3. No brief posts, and no stand-alone posts (work toward a synthesis).
Still, I didn't know what to do with myself for the first few months. I started a lot of posts I never finished. But after a while, ideas started coming to me, and I realized I liked doing that kind of writing. Who knew? (In grad school, I think my professors considered me a pretty bad critical writer—because I was pretty miserable at it.)
CS: I've read a lot of great things about your new novel, Giant Slugs. What can you us about it?
AD: That it's a rewriting of the Epic of Gilgamesh. That it's very language-y and pun-ridden. That it's slightly dirty. That it's pretty absurd, really. And that it's a lot of fun!
And that it's also in New Zealand (which is where it was published); at present, I think I own the only copy not to be found on those islands.
CS: Normally, writers do not like to have multiple books come out at the same time but your prose collection, Amazing Adult Fantasy, came out recently as well. Did you plan that? What has been positive and negative about that?
AD: It was totally by chance (although I've long envied Jacques Derrida, who published three books in 1967). I finished Amazing Adult Fantasy in 2006, Giant Slugs in early 2009.
The good side is that—well, now at readings I can sell both books at once. The bad side is that having two books come out at once has taken up a great deal of my time! Not that I mind, though.
CS: What are your impression of the current Chicago literary scene?
AD: Which one? Because there are, I think, a lot of scenes—no fewer than:
• the more mainstream fiction scene (Bookslut, Reading Under the Influence);
• the more small press fiction scene (Quickies!);
• "younger writers" (the Ear Eater Series in Pilsen, which I haven't been to yet).
• the slightly more underground/experimental scene (Myopic, Danny's);
• the slam poetry scene (The Green Mill, The Encyclopedia Show);
• the Poetry Foundation (which is a world unto itself);
• a somewhat more mainstream poetry scene organized around folks like C.J. Laity;
• the performance poetry scene (usually centered around SAIC grads, past and present).
And I'm sure there's a ton more out there that I'm overlooking, or don't know anything about.
Obviously it's good that there's so much going on, and so much variety. Often I wish there were more overlap between those different scenes, and I admire writers/curators like Jennifer Karmin and Ira S. Murfin and Erin Teegarden and Robbie Q. Telfer, who traverse them, and work to bridge them.
CS: Not that you don't have a lot going on right now, but what's next for A D Jameson?
AD: I'm working on four novels: "Seattle," "1=a," "The Advent of Pleasure" (I may have given up on this one), and a new, nameless text that's still coming together. I'm also slowly pulling together a fourth story collection. My friend Jeremy M. Davies and I are collaborating on an interview collection and a conceptual novel.
I'm also looking for an agent (any leads, suggestions?). And putting together a critical volume or two, based on my writings at Big Other. I'm trying to circle back, revisit certain thoughts, revise things, find more connections. The Internet is wonderful for many things, but it's not the best forum for sustained thought—not the way a book is. I'd like to see if any of my thinking holds up enough for such a project.
So I have a lot of writing to do. Luckily I got accepted to UIC's Creative Writing PhD (I start this August), which will give me more time to do it!
Other than that—I go to the gym. And the beach! Gotta enjoy this nice weather while it lasts...
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