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The Elissa Washuta Interview

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Elissa washuta

Caleb Powell: You cite Maggie Nelson’s, book, The Argonauts, as influential. How so?

Elissa Washuta: There’s a passage where Nelson reflects on Alice Munro’s short story “Wild Swans.” Nelson writes, “Munro lays it all out: how the force of one’s adolescent curiosity and incipient lust often must war with the need to protect oneself from disgusting and wicked violators, how pleasure can coexist with awful degradation without meaning the degradation was justified or a species of wish fulfillment; how it feels to be both accomplice and victim; and how such ambivalence can live on in an adult sexual life.”

Besides admiring her prose, I really identify because I was trying to show that my first experience was complicated. After I was raped I continued seeing the perpetrator. I was terrified and repulsed, and I constructed a story as a response to rape. There wasn’t pleasure, but there was self-delusion that created a deep ambivalence…continue

Written by Caleb Powell

May 9, 2016 at 1:26 pm

An Interview with Jervey Tervalon

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Los Angeles writer and founder of Lit for Life, Jervey Tervalon, in June came to Seattle’s Third Place Books to read from his just released Monster’s Chef. Our interview below:

Jervey and I in Edmonds, WA

Jervey and I in Edmonds, WA

Interview at Los Angeles Review of Books:  JERVEY TERVALON, LA Times bestselling author of Understand This (1994) and Dead Above Ground (2000), has taken on an icon in his latest, Monster’s Chef (Amistad: 224 pp., $24.99). William Gibson, chef and ex-con drug addict, begins working for Lamont “Monster” Stiles, a pop music star who bleaches his skin white, has a “Lair” populated by young boys, his mute wife Rita, and Thug the gay bodyguard, intimidating anyone who wants to delve into the specifics. Take Michael Jackson’s anxiety and hypersensitivity, insert a little bit of the sinister pathologies of Jim Jones and Phil Spector, and the result is one chilling character to mirror the attention given to the celebrity and pop culture of our current age.

Recently Jervey and I conversed over Skype, exploring his novel’s themes of abuse, stereotypes, power, and the obsessions society has with celebrity…

From the LA Times:  Jervey Tervalon has a taste for observation in “Monster’s Chef”

“The novelist Jervey Tervalon likes to share this interesting fun fact about his life: He was born in the same year as Michael Jackson, Madonna and Prince. Tervalon, 55, is a professional teller and gatherer of stories and also a busy literary networker. He grew up in Los Angeles, where celebrity culture can feel like a huge planet whose gravity is constantly sucking him in. The collision between the stars of movie, television and music industries, and the lives of ordinary…”

Written by Caleb Powell

July 13, 2014 at 7:15 am

Murder or Suicide? Caleb Powell Interviews Poe Ballantine at The Sun Magazine

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My interview with Poe Ballantine is out at The Sun Magazine:  We discuss Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere (Hawthorne Books, September 2013), a combo of true crime and literary memoir, and also the subject of a forthcoming documentary by Dave Jannetta.

Literary True Crime Memoir? Poe accidentally fell into a genre that includes compelling books like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil , In Cold Blood, and Kathryn Harrison’s While They Slept.

Murder or Suicide?  Poe was searching for material when Steven Haataja’s corpse was discovered. Poe said off page that Haataja’s death brought to mind another similar case in Poe’s hometown of San Diego that involved the death of Medicis CEO Jonah Shacknai’s girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau. Zahau  had a rag in her mouth, she was found naked and bound, hanging from a balcony, but this was ruled a suicide.

Parallels with Steven Haataja: We segued from Zahua to how Steven Haataja’s tortured and burned corpse came, also, to be viewed by the investigating detectives as a “suicide.” As Poe told me, “The suicide scenario, after you pour in all the supporting evidence, weighs about two grams. Murder weighs about eighteen pounds.”

Small Town America:  Poe weaves settling in Chadron, Nebraska, with his wife he brought back from a teaching stint in Mexico, the birth of a son, and the wacky ordinariness of life in America with this puzzling mystery for a highly entertaining and thoughtful read.

The Sun Magazine excerpt:   Poe Ballantine calls himself a “whiskey-drinking, floor-mopping, gourmet-cooking, wildly prolific writer with a penchant for social commentary.” For nearly three decades he…(full excerpt here)

Frank Meeink at The Nervous Breakdown

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Hockey nut Frank watching his Flyers during the Stanley Cup

Earlier this year I met Frank Meeink, and reviewed his book, Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead: The Frank Meeink Story as told to Jody M. Roy, M.D, at The Rumpus. My interview with Frank Meeink is now at The Nervous Breakdown. Thanks to everyone who helped, including Erika & Brad at TNB, and Frank, Jody M. Roy, and the crew at Hawthorne Books, especially Liz Crain and Rhonda Hughes. 

Frank and I at Elliot Bay Books

No Swastika!

On December 8, 1984, south of Coupeville on Whidbey Island, the FBI surrounded Robert Mathews’ Greenbank farm house. Mathews had founded The Order, a white supremacist group connected to twelve armed robberies …

Caleb Powell: What did skinheads offer you that was lacking in your life?                                                                                      Frank Meeink: I would definitely say it started with the security…(Read interview here)

Caleb Powell Interviews David Shields at Gulf Coast

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The last of my three interviews with David Shields came out today at Gulf Coast. Thanks goes to Hannah Rebecca Gamble, Interviews Editor, for working with me to prepare the final draft. Shields’ book, Reality Hunger, the primary topic of the interviews, turns out to be one of the more discussed books of 2010. My own take…I disagree with at least half of his views, some quite strongly, but…it’s all good.

Click to read review at Biblioklept

The book helped solidify, for me, why fiction is, if not the best, as good as any literary art in tackling reality. I wrote more than one unique review, including this at dooneyscafe.com, as well as the interviews at The RumpusThe Quarterly Conversation, and Gulf Coast. That’s what a quality read does, it gets you thinking and keeps your attention.

Ander Monson: The Interview

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My interview with the guy whose name is part conjunction (and) part interjection (er)…Ander Monson at The Quarterly Conversation:

Ander Monson is the author of several books, including the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize winner Neck Deep and Other Predicaments: Essays. He’s written a novel, Other Electricities with accompanying website, and a volume of poetry, Vacationland. Not only a writer, he is also editor of the online literary magazine DIAGRAM, a bizarre site displaying the possibilities of the digital page. His next work, Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir…” (Read full interview here)

Other links: Fourth Genre Review       University of Arizona

Written by Caleb Powell

May 5, 2010 at 6:25 am