This one, I want to introduce.
I've read a number of great books in 2014. Some real belters. Even so, there's one that stands out clearly as my favourite and that's GRAVESEND
by William Boyle who's about to interview himself here. The novel has an immense power that I'd urge you to experience. The prose is special, the characters wildly alive and their circumstances tragic. It's full of surprises and the kind of romance that Tom Waites can create when he sings about the broken.
I'd like to thank William for doing me the honour of appearing here and also thank my friend Rory Costello for sharing his knowledge and recommending the book in the first place.
Here goes. Kings William the Sixth and Seventh:
Just don’t tell me about Brooklyn, okay? I don’t
give a shit about Brooklyn. Everyone’s from goddamn Brooklyn. Don’t start this
thing that way.
Don’t tell me about the south either. I don’t give a shit how the fuck you
wound up in Oxford.
you get into crime fiction?
version of The Grifters came out when
I was in the sixth grade. I saw it and loved it and asked for the book for my
birthday. My mother bought it for me because she never said no to a book. I
remember riding in the car to Florida with her and my stepdad and reading the
novelization of The Last Boy Scout I’d
picked up somewhere along the way – I loved Shane Black and I hadn’t seen the
movie yet, I had to wait for it to come out on video. I also found Elmore
Leonard in the library around then – I was obsessed with Reservoir Dogs and Tarantino kept talking about what a huge
influence Leonard was, so I read Killshot
and a few others. And then I picked up The
Black Dahlia in a bookstore one day in eighth grade. I hadn’t heard
anything about Ellroy – it just looked good to me. By high school, I was into
Cain and Chandler and I was watching movies like Detour.
your first memory?
I had a 106
fever and I was in a tub in the Victory Memorial Hospital ER. I guess I was
three. My father was standing in the doorway. He’d come over from Staten
Island. He was wearing a cap and his softball jacket. I was burning up. I
didn’t know what death was so I wasn’t afraid.
was on your walls when you were a kid?
A poster of
Alyssa Milano in a Devils jersey and framed Lenny Dykstra baseball cards.
Later, a picture of Cagney in Public
Enemy and a True Romance poster.
movie have you watched the most in your life?
Tie. Pump Up the Volume came out when I was
sixth grade. I rented it from my local video store the next year and dubbed it
using my mother’s VCR and my grandmother’s VCR – I watched that movie probably
four or five times a week for the next few years. I was in love with Samantha
Mathis as Nora Diniro. When True Romance came
out, I did the same thing. And then late in high school it was Leaving Las Vegas. Well, I guess Leaving Las Vegas doesn’t count because
I always skipped the rape part and I usually didn’t watch the end. I just liked
it when he got to Las Vegas and they were drinking all the time and kind of
falling in love. What a goddamn dream!
are your favorite things right now?
The recent two-part episode, “In the Woods,” is the best TV I’ve ever seen. Megan
Abbott’s The Fever. Willy Vlautin’s The Free and Colfax by his new band The Delines. Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There. I just reread Jim
Harrison’s Farmer – man, what a book.
Dave Newman’s Two Small Birds. Michael
Haneke’s Amour. Mad Men. The Rock*A*Teens. That Harry Dean Stanton documentary. Ace
Atkins’s Quinn Colson books. Adventure
Time and every word that Jack Pendarvis writes. This
song about my hero Jason Molina by Strand of Oaks.
photos by Arthur Tress of children’s dreams.
John Brandon’s Further Joy. Sun Kil
Moon’s Benji. Tom Spanbauer’s I Loved You More.
like a lot of stuff. What are some things that you hate?
I hate thinking
that my grandparents won’t be around one day. I hate bad pizza. I hate going to
the beach in the summer. I hate mopping. I don’t hate birds but I’m pretty
scared of them – I think they can take over whenever they want.
the drunkest you’ve ever been?
It involved MD
20/20 and an axe. I was on a ladder in the middle of a strange street. The
night smelled like puke. The moon had disappeared.
did GRAVESEND come from?
It was born in
blood and brokenness. It came screaming from me like a punk song.
you ever think about how you’d like to die?
When my wife and
I are ninety, I’d like for us to leave a note for our children and drive
somewhere very cold where we can freeze together hugging under a tree. I’d like
to listen to a good song while I’m freezing to death, something by Shane
MacGowan. I’d like to stay frozen until the world explodes.