Friday, May 31, 2013

Interview Sessions: Volume 1.1

Meet Jeremy Hanson-Finger.

Author of three chapbooks, numerous independent works of short fiction and poetry (published in like, a whole bunch of different literary magazines), and of the much anticipated forthcoming collection of short stories called Eyeless and Gazing, Jeremy Hanson-Finger is also a pretty cool guy (see available photograph for evidence.) He is the founder of Dragnet Magazine, an online/e-book literary journal that believes "fun dance parties are an important part of life" and that "literary writing should be as fun as it is well made." He is also, according to Spindle Magazine, "a brilliant writer," and, according to this poem of his, a staunch believer in penguins. 

More importantly for us, and you, Jeremy Hanson-Finger is one of the first of the four really-you're-really-agreeing-to-read-for-us? readers who will soon be rocking the stage at our inaugural event. Yes, that one. The one we know you've been so patiently waiting to comb your hair and sneaker up for that is going to be held at The Only Cafe on Saturday June 15th. 

For your benefit, we have decided to ask each author who will be reading a few questions about themselves, their work and their reading habits to get us a little more acquainted before we all show up to have fun together for the first time. 

Below are the results. Scroll. Peruse. Enjoy. 

Let's start with something easy: Give us the cereal box break-down of your style — how would you describe it if you only had a blurb on the side of a Wheaties box to sell someone on what you do? (For bonus points, give us a cereal-style title for your body of work, a tagline, and/or some mock nutritional information.)

Germy Hands and Fingers

"Beautiful and sneakily creepy"  Emma Healey, Broken Pencil

% Daily Value:

Love games: 200%
Robots: 58%
Mysteries: 82%
Airplanes: 105%
World War II: 19%
Old Testament conceptions of the afterlife: 33%
Father figures, including grandfathers: 23%
Medical professionals: 67%
Puns: 16%
Absurdly long sentences: 7%
Human bodies: 134%
Second person voice: 13%
Memory: 10%
The heat death of the universe: 80%

Can you remember the first time an writer's work really reached out and grabbed you? If so, who were they, and what about their writing caught your attention?

I think Richard Brautigan was the first writer who got me really into literary fiction and poetry. My dad introduced me to him. His style, like Kurt Vonnegut's, is deceptively simple and childlike, which allows him to explore the world with a sense of wonder, but he also deals with some really heavyweight issues — at the same time as being funny.

As a 'Part 2' to that question: now that you've grown a little as a writer, are there any writers who inspire you, or whose work really makes you want to work harder/better/faster/stronger? Are there any qualities you can point to specifically in their work which stick out to you?

Most recently, I'd say the work that blew me away and made me want to write the most was Adam Levin's book of short stories Hot Pink. I still strongly believe that work that ignores the humorous attributes of situations only tells half the story, so I'm always drawn to writers who can write material that's funny but where the humour actually helps it serve fiction's purpose, which, as David Foster Wallace says, is to depict "what it is to be a fucking human being." Anyway, like Brautigan, Levin nails that balance with Hot Pink, specifically with the concept of "snat," which also appears in his novel The Instructions (which is great too, but it's a thousand-pager that's a lot harder to get through). Levin operates at a much more complex level in terms of his actual prose than Brautigan, which motivates me to experiment more with my sentences.

In your own work,are there any themes, images, or characters (etc.) that you find yourself drawn to, intentionally or otherwise? What are they? Why do you think they resonate with you?

See % Daily Value chart above. I was obsessed with airplanes as a child, specifically WWII fighter planes (Jane's All The World's Aircraft, what's up?). The heat death of the universe definitely came from reading Thomas Pynchon and some of the work that inspired him, particularly Norbert Wiener's seminal book on cybernetics The Human Use of Human Beings. That's probably also part of where robots came from, though I think they also came from reading so much science fiction as a kid. I've also always loved detective stories. A psychoanalyst could probably connect it to a desire, as a somewhat anxious person, to control my environment. The others are a bit harder to pin down.

In the spirit of celebrating reading and writing, how do you like to read? Are you an out-louder? Do you prefer peace and quiet? What's the ideal set of conditions and location for you to read?

If it's something I want to read, I read somewhere quiet, usually in bed. If it's something I have to force myself to read, e.g., something I need to edit for work that I really dislike, I often have to be around other people and where there's background noise in order to get through it.

Just for fun, give us a pairing: one of your favourite works/authors and one of your favourite beverages (alcoholic or not). Why do they go together? How do they compliment one another?

This might be an easy one, but David Foster Wallace and Wild Turkey bourbon. The character James Incandenza in Infinite Jest is an academic and an avant-garde filmmaker, but he has an insatiable appetite for what's generally considered a working-class drink, and I think that describes Wallace pretty well: a brilliant avant-garde artist who loves mixing high and low culture. Also, I don't care what you say: Wild Turkey is delicious.

Because we're all insatiably curious little bastards, can you give us a little taste of what you think you'll be reading come June 15th? 

Choose your own weird date adventure.

Last question: give us a short (less than 75 words) third-person bio blurb about yourself which covers any awards/distinctions you're proud of and what you're tackling right now.

Jeremy Hanson-Finger is the publisher of the online literary magazine Dragnet. Apartment 9 Press in Ottawa published his chapbook The Delicious Fields in 2011, and his debut collection of short stories, Eyeless and Gazing, is forthcoming with Montreal's 8th House Publishing. He is currently working on a hardboiled detective novel set in the anaesthesiology department of the Ottawa Civic Hospital, titled The Big Freeze.

To find more about and by Jeremy Hanson-Finger you should click his name in his mini-bio above or the word sheep here — sheep — to make your way to his website. If you're too lazy to do your own perusing (we won't judge you: life is hard), here is a link to a poem of his, "Final Exam to be Taken by Dream Girl Based on Selections from Opening Sentences of Messages Mr. Hanson-Finger Has Really Honestly Sent to Girls on OKCupid," and another short piece he wrote called "Nighttime Isn't For Lovers." You should also check out his baby in literary magazine form Dragnet, and, once you've seen it and loved it, you should also check out the super-cool anthology of work collected from Dragnet's first two years in operation, which is now pre-available by pre-order on Indiegogo. (We just did and we're pretty stoked.) And lastly, keep an eye out for his upcoming short story collection, Eyeless and Gazing. Unless you're eyeless. Then keep your ears open because you'll really probably be wanting to check it out. 

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