interview + review [Ofelia Hunt]

Posted By jatyler - 7th June 2011

+ interview /// Today & Tomorrow by Ofelia Hunt

Today & Tomorrow is filled with violence, so let’s start there. Why all the violence or intended / imagined violence? I believe it is connected to angst about being young but becoming older, about the worry that comes with realizing we are no longer invincible. How far off-base am I?

The ‘voice’/character of the narrator that developed through writing My Eventual Bloodless Coup, and to some degree I think the violence comes from the character (regardless of her age). I can’t deny your assertion that the violence may be related to the anxiety/angst of aging, particularly as it relates to transitioning between decades(teens to twenties to thirties), but I’ve wondered if there are other reasons for the narrator’s violence/imagined violence. There’s a strange humor to it (for me). Violence or imagining violence could be an environmental control? A way to focus one’s thoughts toward or away from one thing or another? The loss of perceived invincibility is certainly disconcerting. As is perceived physical weakness among peers. And perhaps subjective isolation plays a roll? I’ve often thought of the narrator as a mind turned inwardly, as a person, like me, who does not socialize well, who doesn’t feel comfortable with ‘small talk’/chatter, who attempts to define interpersonal relationships mathematically somehow. The idea that there is a right thing to say, to think, to do, to touch, to be at each moment.

Alongside the violence, images of Bill Murray are another staple of Today & Tomorrow, appearing throughout its pages as a reference point of sorts, bringing us back to the narrator and her concern for living in this world. How did Bill Murray make it into this book and what is he doing there?

I have a nostalgic love for all things Bill Murray (STRIPES, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, etc…) and, of course, Bill Murray is very handsome. In an early draft of the second chapter Bill Murray was Kevin Costner but I don’t like Kevin Costner so much so I cut him.  As I began editing I think I changed all pop culture movie-ish references to Bill Murray because I intuitively thought that returning to the same thought/phrase/image repetitively (with variation) would be pleasing to me. I can only write in possibilities, as nothing in the novel was planned/plotted, but I have felt that Bill Murray represented an opposition to the angst/disorganization of the narrator. Bill Murray is old and successful. Bill Murray is rich. Bill Murray could be a communist if he wanted. Bill Murray could be her grandfather. Bill Murray’s deadpan. Bill Murray observes America coldly and from a distance. Bill Murray stares at his own craggy lined face in a very small mirror. Bill Murray eats terrorists and saves Omaha, Nebraska.

If this novel is about growing up or coming of age or something related to the years we have been alive, does this stem at all from your own age? How old are you and does that (did that) have an affect on the vibe of Today & Tomorrow?

I think that as I began writing Today & Tomorrow I sarcastically thought of it as a coming of age novel (except that I don’t know how to write coming of age novels or even novels). I was 28 years old when I started T&T, and I’m now 32 years old. I might be regressing. I graduated from college four years late. And there’s something odd about approaching and entering your 30s. When my mother was 30 she had three children, was immersed in the work/eat/sleep routine. The language of violence is interesting and it surrounds us (television, movies, newspapers). “I want to stab that mofo in the face,” is funny. I remember a former coworker saying that about a demanding customer, while miming a stabbing motion. Also, as I wrote and edited T&T I remember being very concerned/interested in the separation of body and thought, the separation of any body part from any other, and the compartmentalization of the mind. Violence, real and imagined, seemed one way to write about this. Bodies are so mechanical. Parts fail and are replaced. I like to run long trail races occasionally and the racers become very focused on ‘refueling’ and ‘stride mechanics’ and the possible failure of their parts (a foot, a tendon, the iliotibial band). Perhaps ‘coming of age’ is a step toward subjective understanding of ones own body, and move toward greater mental compartmentalization. One learns to become many people as needed, for work, friends, lovers, partners, the internet, to subsume/suppress the parts that do and don’t fit current roles.

Your website bio says that you ‘might not be 100% real’ – are you a pseudonym? If so, why?

I am a pseudonym. I often want to write as someone else. Writing as myself is boring, like a half-robot/Raymond Carver/clone. Or like an Oregon State Ann Beattie. I am a folder on my laptop. There are other folders with other names. I am those names also, sometimes. My legal name is easy to find. Artifice, performance may be ways to entertain myself, to better compartmentalize my thoughts. I also fear and am annoyed by things billed as ‘authentic.’ I don’t understand why there are uproars about inaccurate memoirs. To me, ‘truth’ is mostly subjective. Writing as Ofelia Hunt allows me to write as an inauthentic self.

You had a previous e-book with Bear Parade called My Eventual Bloodless Coup and Today & Tomorrow is your first novel. What is next on the print or e-book horizon of Ofelia Hunt?

I don’t know precisely. I’m working on a new novel in a Word document titled ‘VOLTRON.doc’. This is currently around 7,000 words of present tense jumping through time and place about a brother and sister who grew up both in a mansion with no parenting and in a very small trailer in a trailer park in Shoreline, WA (The Holiday Resort Trailer Park) with no parenting. It’s possible that the trailer and mansion occupy the same physical space. Also included: Scottsdale, AZ, Seattle, WA, Portland OR. There is a poorly edited excerpt here.

Buy this book here. Read more about / from Ofelia Hunt here.

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