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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Paul Kavanagh: Hemingway, Dante, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Ballard, and an Iceberg at the End of the World

My guest this week is Paul Kavanagh. According to one critic, his dystopian novella Iceberg exhibits "scabrous innocence and scarifying pathos." Yes, that's meant as a compliment. The author shares some thoughts with us here. Or maybe it's one long thought.

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Hemingway wrote something somewhere about style and an iceberg. I wrote a book about an iceberg that was won in a spam email. Don't you just hate those pesky emails. Hemingway said his style was like an iceberg. My iceberg was an Antarctic iceberg. It was concrete and not some abstract notion. The iceberg I wrote about drifted all the way up from the Antarctica to New York City. It could happen. Hemingway’s theory of the iceberg is very clever. My iceberg could have been a huge peach. I tried to use Hemingway’s method. I thought it would be interesting and clever and funny. I wrote about the end of the world, a Ballardian end of the world, but I left out all the details, well most of the details, I could have written a thousand pages about a Ballardian end of the world, a litany of – clichés? - but I decided to try the Hemingway approach and leave it all out. My book is very small now. It makes people giggle because it is so small – I like that though. There is a huge mess floating in the sea between Hawaii and California. The huge floating mess is the result of the bad weather that destroyed Japan. In that mess there are televisions, beds, kettles, all the things one would need to create a comfortable home. On my floating – up to New York, it could happen – iceberg, a lovely couple do just that, they create a comfortable home out of the debris of the Ballardian end of the world. They create a Modern Eden. I used Dante Alighieri’s template. The first chapter in the book is the antithesis to the late chapter in the book as hell is the antithesis of heaven. I enjoyed writing Iceberg. Writing even though is like sitting on top of an iceberg is nevertheless a lot of fun. Writing should never be painful. I wrote many years ago, when I thought I was Rimbaud - now I have to admit I look more like Verlaine - one should not suffer for art for art will not suffer for you. I was once very silly. I am still very silly. Iceberg is a very silly book. I hope it makes people giggle. In the movie I hope Bert and Ernie will play the leading roles. Sesame Street is the cause of all this. ABC. One Two three. There are three chapters that make up Iceberg. As there are three Books in Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia. “Very Oulipo!” I am repeating myself. I am turning into that drunk at the end of the bar. Hemingway emptied a shotgun into his mouth because he had turned into that drunk at the end of the bar. I will not empty a shotgun into my mouth I’ll simply stop

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You can purchase Iceberg on Amazon.

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