Filed under: Enthusiasms, Imagination, Interview | Tags: Cancult.ca, Harper Collins, Peter Darbyshire, Trotsky, Warhol Gang
There’s a scene in the movie Office Space where one of the characters – played by Ron Livingston – has finally had enough of his soulless boss and the mindlessness of his workday cubicle existence.
Stolen power drill in hand, he rampages through the office, tearing down cubicle walls and gutting a fresh fish at his desk (to a Geto Boys soundtrack). It’s a scene of liberation for the character, a scene where he finally asserts himself and starts to control his own destiny.
This scene is not replicated in Peter Darbyshire’s new novel, The Warhol Gang.
The Warhol Gang begins and ends with what seems like death.
The book’s protagonist is given the name Trotsky on page 4 by a man named ‘Nickel’, his new boss. Trotsky has just been hired at Adsenses, “a neuromarketing company that scans his brain to test new products”.
Trotsky spends his days at work cocooned in a special ‘pod’ where he experiences heightened sensory episodes and imaginary scenarios designed by neuromarketers to test prospective products.
In the pod he may see himself in scented rooms, in his own expensive apartment with beautiful women, wearing designer clothes, with a sense of family, fulfillment and certainty.
Nothing could be further from the reality of Trotsky’s existence.
These holograms reflect a deep loneliness in the character and an abundant sense of absence surrounds him.
He searches for some kind of genuine experience and in the course of doing so meets a woman who dreams of stardom but who makes her living faking accidents for insurance money.
And from there the story continues one surreal inversion of desire after another until the characters’ reality becomes an embodiment of a rebel mythology.
Warhol, Trotsky, Che, Holiday, Thatcher – the names evoke a sense of recent pop culture – and ‘real’ culture – history. Each name signifying real historical people but when overlaid on the book’s characters the names create a surreal and eerie effect.
Truth is that I’m going to have to go back and read this book again.
So many ideas and tangents are coming back to me as I write this and I know that there’s a lot more in this book than I got the first time thru.
Peter is addressing the absurdity and hopelessness of life when it’s met by a world that devours flesh and blood dreams with marketed illusions of reality.
What happens when your dreams come not from within but are insinuated upon you via incessant external stimulus?
What happens when your desires are the desires that others desire for you to have?
What difference does anything make? Why not go in for the kill?
Filed under: Enthusiasms, Imagination, Interview | Tags: 9/11, Colum McCann, Guinness, Harper Collins, Interview, Let the Great World Spin, National Book Award, Ryan Report, Terrorist Attack
I had the great pleasure of speaking to Colum McCann this past week.
Unfortunately, we only had a little more than 10 minutes to talk as he was ripping thru a media junket in Toronto on his way to meet with the dudes at the Afterword.
It was still an excellent conversation and I’m grateful to the folks at Harper Collins Canada for making it happen.
I have filled out the half-hour time slot on CJSF 90.1 FM (Simon Fraser University Independent Radio) with some found audio of Colum talking about the book and also reading from the first chapter.
Let me know what you think.
Filed under: Interview | Tags: Cocaine, Elephant and Castle Pub, Gossip, Gossip Columnist, Harper Collins, Interview, National Post, New York Post, Richard Johnson, Shangri-La Hotel, Shinan Govani, Tom Ford, Vancouver
It wasn’t a famously grim Vancouver day on the cusp of autumn. It was a little overcast, a little rainy. The weather couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be and so settled on a kind of consistently unadorned greyness with a minor chilling, insubstantial breeze.
Shinan showed up for the interview umbrella in hand, clearly having heeded the advice of the concierge at the Shangri-La Hotel where he was staying.
We ordered a round of gin & tonics and settled in for the interview.
Shinan is the National Post’s “resident snoop, town crier and people watcher.”
According to Richard Johnson of the New York Post’s legendary Page 6, “Shinan Govani works with bemused detachment in a bizarro world of fame whores and the truly famous, and he knows the difference. In Boldface Names, he plumbs the depths of the shallow party circuit, and finds humanity beneath the celebrity, and wisdom beyond mere wit.”
Shinan was in town to promote the launch of his new book, Bold Face Names, which, if the back cover copy is to be trusted, carries a narrative that sweeps “…from the beaches of Anguilla to the towers of Dubai, from LA to London to the social mines of Toronto…”
Social mines of Toronto?!!? Dear god help us all.
Filed under: Interview | Tags: Bold Face Names, Books on the Radio, Harper Collins, Harper Collins Canada, Interview, Shinan Govani, Shinan Govani Bold Face Names, Vancouver
This Thursday afternoon at an undisclosed location in downtown Vancouver I will be interviewing Canada’s finest disher of celebrity gossip turned wisecracking novelist, Shinan Govani.
Shinan is the National Post‘s “resident snoop, town crier and people watcher.”
According to Richard Johnson of the New York Post‘s legendary Page 6, “Shinan Govani works with bemused detachment in a bizarro world of fame whores and the truly famous, and he knows the difference. In Boldface Names, he plumbs the depths of the shallow party circuit, and finds humanity beneath the celebrity, and wisdom beyond mere wit.”
Shinan is in town to promote the launch of his new book, Bold Face Names, which, if the back cover copy is to be trusted, carries a narrative that sweeps “…from the beaches of Anguilla to the towers of Dubai, from LA to London to the social mines of Toronto…”
Social mines of Toronto?!!? Dear god help us all.
I just received my copy of the book and I’m going to burn through it this afternoon.
Stay tuned for hijinx.