« An Interview-in-Excerpts with Katie Jean Shinkle | Main | An Interview-in-Excerpts with Kristina Marie Darling »

An Interview-in-Excerpts with Joe Milazzo

Joe Milazzo is a writer, editor, educator, and designer. He is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie (Jaded Ibis Press) and The Habiliments (Apostrophe Books; forthcoming, 2015), a volume of poetry. His writings have appeared in Black Clock, Black Warrior Review, The Collagist, Drunken Boat, Fruita Pulp, Tammy, and elsewhere. He co-edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing], is a Contributing Editor at Entropy, and is also the proprietor of Imipolex Press. Joe lives and works in Dallas, TX, and his virtual location is http://www.slowstudies.net/jmilazzo/.

An excerpt of his novel, Crepuscule W/ Nellie, appeared in Issue Sixty-Five of The Collagist. 

Here, he answers questions in the form of excerpts from Crepuscule W/ Nellie.

What is writing like?

John opened his mouth. Instead of any sound, a bubble split his lips. The effluvium’s skin was a pink glisten, and it enclosed a goldfish that wiggled its tail in time to Herman’s opus. The bubble drifted up and away from John. He was too far outside his dream now to think that Herman was going to flub it. With a tweet, the bubble popped. The goldfish cannonballed to the floor. John heard it splash, a bronchitis sound, but he had lost track of his stare. He was ready to surrender, to begin another song. Bubble after bubble streamed out of his mouth. Nothing further broke. But what if they did? John envisioned them gulping in a pile, a lava of dorsals, gills and flat eyes. John clapped both hands over his mouth, yet Mrs. Williams’ inventions knew no end. Maybe he could get them to the toilet if he scooped with both hands. Herman traded fours with himself, treble, bass. Both hands. The bubbles made nice, like society. John told himself that, even if he could not stop spewing, he would make it. But first he had to stop Herman’s repeating.

What isn’t writing like?

— You have to look after your mother, Neenah. You do. You know, I can tell you what Mr. Monk would tell you about your situation. And isn’t that something you would like to hear?

— I would, Mrs. Monk, more than anything in the world.

— Well, Neenah, Mr. Monk, he would walk you down the hall of this very building here, and he would take you to your door, and he would open that door for you. Open it in a very gentlemanly fashion.

— Go on, Mrs. Monk, go on.

— And he would take your hand and bring you inside. And he would ask you to turn around and look at your apartment as if it weren’t just the same old dusty, dingy place where you sit and sigh and say to yourself, “Oh, how I’d rather be anyplace else than this.”

— Really look at it? Really?

— Really, Neenah, and by really I mean this: look hard.

— I am. And would he say anything? Anything else?

— He would, Neenah.

— What, what, Mrs. Monk? What more?

— He would tell you this, Neenah. Look where he’s pointing, look hard now.

— I’m looking, Mrs. Monk, I know it looks like my eyes are closed, but I am looking hard.

— You see where Mr. Monk, Mr. Thelonious Sphere Monk, is pointing? See, Neenah? Now, he is going to tell you something. And that something is this. “Don’t go thinking things into any of this that you can’t think out of it.” That’s what we would tell you.

— He would?

— Neenah, follow his hand. See how he has.

When you do it, why?

“Nellie.” I’m calling myself. Times my mind won’t unplug itself, Monk, and all I can smell in this empty bedroom is the bleach from my own hands, not a sniff anywhere of your shaving soap or disagreeability at all. I try and wish you in through that window. Flying in with tales to tell about it, they could sound as untrue as Mother Goose. Monk, you wouldn’t ever, never have to admit to me what you really endured. What’s committed in the pages of the book of life, no, it hardly happens to the likes of us, or happens so uncommonly it can only say, “Surprise.” Pop pop, pop in. I could follow the facts swooping without one swoon, the snakes and ladders of your ongoing goings-on. Is this my drift? But most of the time I just want the other boys in the band, the ones I have in that murky picture I have in my head, I want them to scram, Monk, I want them to walk out of their posing for good. They would leave, and leave you alone, and I’d be able to make my way to you at the end of that alley. Just like you should have let me. Why won’t you let me see you live? Oh, this is the worst gas. Where are my stockings? Is it that you don’t want me to know you’ve got an arrow stuck in your heel? I’m coming back out Monk. But first I should lie back down. Lord knows I’d prefer it. Just like I’d like to believe the blacked-out long walk of that downtown alley is just the same dark I see as with my eyes closed. I’d like to. Ice cream. Why do we still even have ice cream in this house? You could keep your head down, Monk. We will have found each other all the same.

When you don’t, why?

I know what I want, dear diary, yet I know it will not hold stationary, I know I want it a tiny bit less at the point of its resolve, I know that when it lapses uncollected, that then is when I want it so much more than it can endure. suffer, that is the synonym you’d have me accept, isn’t it, dear diary? it is no comfort, a day, days whose rhythms have been drained by thorough enthusiasm. I am the one who thinks, not about I, but about you, all through the day. mania is depression, but all the more acute. I mean, dear diary, mania catalyzes depression, and it carries on, nattering through pack after pack and cup after magnum after cask, unaffected, untempered, a singular chord held for a very long time indeed. and, no, dear diary, you do not proffer any sincere consolation with your psychiatric endearments. I don’t want to be told that my desire is the normal state of desire: my faith, for don’t I observe it, dear diary, and faith is in the mobilization, not the intent, my faith in unknowing what desire or desire’s object actually might be. that they might be separate entities at all. dear diary, no, you’re much too masculine to be able to stomach that porridge, dear diary, or agree that it is a dessert. so what if insights are read out of a book, or even several books. in fact, dear diary, why don’t you ever share your doubts with me? instead, you make them apparent. I never thought you so plain, so squat, dear diary. desire is a well-established expert opinion, it has the salty savor of the vetted truth. and one is to place it in one’s mouth, even though one dare not speak it. let me go on, dear diary, let me articulate my inarticulateness. let me take a letter.

References (37)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>