Flamingo Hotel. The interview.
Seven Nights. The Interview.
First off, isn’t it a bit unusual to interview yourself?
Backing the fuck off?
Winning the Republic of Consciousness prize. Is that something you hope to achieve?
Well, I write ‘funny’ books. There’s no prize for being funny.
But you’re not a funny guy.
This is true. I have a running ‘joke’ with my boyfriend. He calls me a ‘social wanker’. The joke goes something like this:
Bf: (doing someone’s voice). Drew, how was your holiday?
Bf: (doing my voice) Yeah, it was good.
Then he kind of does a deathly silence.
Funnily enough yesterday over on The Common Breath twitter feed they posted a picture of My Friends by Emmanuel Bove. Now this is one of my favourite books. Written in 1924 it’s about a guy living in a rundown boarding house trawling around Paris trying to find a ‘friend’. I think it’s hilarious…
Your point being?
One of the comments on the post, ‘Such a sad book’.
My Friends was a huge influence on Flamingo Hotel. Both Victor in My Friends and ‘you’ in Flamingo Hotel indulge in a certain fantasy life that is quite different to their reality.
So you stole the idea?
I thought I was supposed to be the ‘social wanker’?
I am you.
Fair point. Anyway, it’s a common enough thing. We all have a bit of Walter Mitty in us.
Speak for yourself.
I am. There’s a scene in Flamingo Hotel, where ‘you’ is sitting in his room, thinking about the wedding he is going to and the only good thing he can see about himself are his nostrils and his socks. And then he imagines meeting a woman who is into nostrils and socks. They fall in love. Etc. Etc. That could’ve come from My Friends.
I’m drawn to books / stories about people that have to work, or have nothing. Bukowski’s Post Office, The Lonely Hearts Club by Raul Nunez (about a concierge in a seedy Barcelona hotel), John Fante’s books, the short stories of Miranda July where characters run away, end up working in peep shows, living in damp cellars. Because that’s life, isn’t it?
Should I be getting out my violin?
That was one of the questions in my 11+. ‘How many strings does a violin have?’ I failed it. We all failed it. If anyone from my junior school ever went on to get an ‘O’ level they announced it in assembly and we all had to applaud. There was one boy whose parents spent a whole four years saving up to take him to Spain. It’s all he ever talked about. He was something of a hero.
Sound of violin scratchily playing.
Enough already! All I’m saying is that our publishing industry is very middle class, producing the kind of books that middle class people might like.
But Shuggie Bain has just won the Booker?
Sure thing. But look what Stuart said, “One of my biggest regrets I think is that growing up so poor I almost had to elevate myself to the middle class to turn around to tell a working-class story.”
And Galley Beggar’s are releasing a book written by a plumber…
But that’s the marketing behind it. It’s a plumber that loves modernist literature. It’s all about escape / transformation.
So you won’t be buying it?
I’ll be first in the queue. It sounds fantastic. That’s not what I’m saying.
So what are you saying?
There was another so-called bastion of the W/C literature on Twitter the other day tweeting about which European country they should decamp to to write their next novel. It just doesn’t seem representative… Look, let’s talk about Dennis Nilsen.
Moving on to less controversial topics…
Well, he’s been in the press recently. And I read an article. About how he was a failure. He had been a policeman but never progressed beyond the rank of PC. And I thought, that’s not failure. That’s a good job. It’s ok to be that. We don’t have to transform. The heroes are the people who are getting up every day. Doing shit. That takes some skill.
Hence your ‘rags to rags’ story?
Exactly. A rags to rags story. For the little guy. Just getting by. That’s what Flamingo Hotel is.
So you think you’re going to be a success?
I’m already a success. I did it. That’s enough.
Slap on the back.
Exactly. Slap on the back.
Seven Nights At The Flamingo Hotel is published by Bearded Badger Press and available to buy here.