Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interview Sessions: Volume 4.4

Meet Mike Sauve.

To kick off this post, an apology: 

Dear Mike, 

We are sorry that we keep trying to put down your name as "Suave." In our defense, you do seem charming, glib, and urbane. Speaking from experience as a man whose name has been written out correctly on the first try by strangers maybe six times since 1994, I know your pain. We sincerely apologize.

In solidarity, 

Kris "Yes, I am aware that it's normally spelled with a 'ch'" Bone

With that little bit of business out of the way, let's cut to the chase here: Just who is Mike Sauve? What does he write? How many horses does he own? (All the important questions we know you're demanding answers to.)

Having started in writing as a journalist, Mike now lets his artistic sensibilities run wild. He has a remarkably impressive portfolio of both fiction and non-fiction, a huge sampling of which is available on his website, Scorpion of Scofflaw. Let us warn you, though: if you have things written down in your agenda for the afternoon, you may want to delay clicking the link  Mike's writing will suck you in and refuse to let you go (or, at least if it did, you would refuse to leave). In fact, this post would have been up a while ago had this dedicated blogger (normally so impervious to distraction) not stumbled into the cave of wonders that is Mike's "Fiction" tab. 

Mike's work has something for everyone: we legitimately guffawed at his Memo: Considering a Face Tattoo, a pitch-perfect bit up on The Feathertale Review's website, and his An Open Letter to the Family Counseling Student Expelled for Lacking Empathy, published on the "Open Letters to People or Entities who are Unlikely to Respond" portion of; we find ourselves haunted by his Everything you Can Think of is True, from the 24th issue of M-Brane; and we are both haunted by and guffawing at his piece My New Gang from Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #39. 

Mike's remarkable creative range, in both subject matter and imagery, is simply striking. In our interview, he describes his writing as "a reaction to all the rigidly-enforced clarity and simplicity expected of low-level journalists," and we don't doubt that his writing benefits from that instinct  we can't help but wonder, however, if that journalistic foundation is where Mike's incredible ability to corral tangible, solid details in his fictional worlds comes from.  Just try reading "Everything you Can Think of is True" without wanting to shower away all the grit from 'the unraveling' afterwards. (We've showered twice, to no avail.) 

His website also features samples of his journalism, should you be interested to study the other side of Mike's writing. Certainly a strange experience after his fiction, he writes movie and music reviews, as well as features about diverse subjects like Baptist congregations, or the infamous Comfort Zone. Whatever the subject, whatever the medium, Mike's writing remains fascinating.

Mike was kind enough to answer some questions for us, which we have posted below. And once you've read those, you can check out Mike's website (if, for whatever reason, you haven't already). And then, we'll see you on Sunday. Have a safe and happy Friday/Saturday, all you wild people. 

(Oh  for the record, he owns a whopping six horses. And now you know.)


An Interview with Mike Sauve: Call Centres and a Mayorally-issued Smog Alert

1) To get the ball rolling: For any audience members who have never had the chance to read your work before, how would you describe it? (For bonus points: on this month’s theme of ‘natural forces,’ what would the weather forecast be on the day your work is being read?) 

My work ranges from speculative fiction, to zany maximalism, to elegiac ‘bad feels’ over lost youth. I started in journalism, so I think a lot of my fiction is a reaction to all the rigidly-enforced clarity and simplicity expected of low-level journalists.

Weather: Humid and unpleasant, 33 degrees at noon, a mayorally-issued smog alert, citizens angry and hostile on buses and LRT lines—then a downpour. Some remove shirts and run in rainstorm ecstasy, and that’s redemptive for them, but most just get drenched and are worse off than when it was just the humidity, and then they go home and eat a high-sodium frozen entrée and think about the better times.

2) Can you remember the first time a writer's work really reached out and grabbed you? If so, who were they, and what about their writing caught your attention? Are there any elements of it that you still find yourself chasing, in some way? 

I was an avid young reader, so it would have been Stephen King when I was in the 4th grade. During the tumult of pre-pubescence, after enduring some social catastrophe, I took smug satisfaction knowing my rivals would go through life without the intimate pleasure of getting lost in a fictional world. History bore me out. I keep close tabs on those people and they are slack-jawed reality show enthusiasts to a one.

Recently, I loved The Spectacular Now. Both my novels feature precocious teen protagonists, so I appreciate the difficulty of writing the precocious teen. (Ever notice there are never unprecocious teens in novels? If so it would be all “Jamie talked on Facebook for three hours, heated a pizza pocket, masturbated.”) 

3) 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? 

I often write about faded friendship and how memories of old friends can haunt a person, as seen in The Dispossessed Person and several of my other short pieces. I’m plagued by memories of adolescent glory and can’t stop dreaming about people I haven’t seen in over a decade, even after I’ve deleted all those individuals off Facebook. The people I grew up with don’t exist anymore; they’re new people who wear Ed Hardy shirts and boast about having a man-cave. A couple stories I’m sending out now continue to dwell on this theme, but after those I hope to move the heck on. This stuff isn’t healthy.

I also write often about demoralizing and meaningless work environments. I’ve worked a lifetime total of 12 days in three different call centres, but have written ten+ call centre-related stories. Similar to how George Saunders’ few days working in a slaughterhouse led to his brilliant workplace fiction, except mine is orders of magnitude less brilliant.

4) If there's one thing that you'd like people to feel when they read what you’ve written, or something that you’d like them to take away from your writing, what is it? 

I don’t have a good answer here. I’m happy if even a few people relate, find the jokes funny, and find the sad parts sad. To quote Jonathan Lethem from a recent Paris Review interview, “That’s all I have to offer, what Philip K. Dick had to offer me, solidarity.” 

5) Just for fun, give me 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 complement one another?

I’m going to say Bob Dylan and Kamikazes because Bob Dylan is my favourite artist, and during the 80s he used to down four of these incredibly sweet, acidic cocktails before each performance and then berate the audience, which was hilarious. And please email if you’d like to be directed to bootlegs of these performances and added to my Bob Dylan email list to receive emails like every second day with Bob Dylan-related original content. 

6) 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.

Mike Sauve has written non-fiction for The National Post, Variety, Exclaim! Magazine and other publications. His online fiction has appeared everywhere from Feathertale, Pif Magazine, Monkeybicycle, Dragnet Magazine and McSweeney’s to university journals of moderate renown. Stories have also appeared in print in M-Brane, Criminal Class Review, Filling Station, and elsewhere. 


1) What’s your desert island book/album/film? 

Got to go with Infinite Jest because it’s so long and so good and you could read it over and over no problem. Another option might be Adam Levin’s The Instructions. For a film I’ll say The Bicycle Thief because if there were no people around to depress me, I’d need something to depress me, right? 

2) Which artist, living or dead, would you meet for lunch? 

I already mentioned Dylan, so I’ll say David Lynch. My earliest fiction was very Lynch-influenced. I think I watched Mulholland Drive about 30 times when I was in OAC, and I was always striving for that type of irrealism. Because of Lynch, I was writing slipstream before I knew there was such a term. 

3) Which Toronto restaurant would you take them to?

I eat out a lot, mostly at cheap diners around Esplanade and Jarvis, so probably one of those places. Times Square Fish and Chips let’s say.

4) Most underappreciated novel/short story out there, in your opinion?

Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne. It’s already a minor cult classic, but it should be on the Confederacy of Dunces level.

5) Any chance you'll give us a little hint at what you'll be reading on the 25th

The Dispossessed Person, which is my dubious tribute to the David Foster Wallace story The Depressed Person, except dealing with the above-stated themes of friendship loss instead of depression. 

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