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“it means that everyone everywhere is lonely and we all want to fuck each other.”

July 29, 2010 \pm\31 12:03 pm

One restless night I guerrilla interviewed Ben Brooks in gchat. Brooks is the author of Fences (Fugue State Press), An Island of Fifty (Mud Luscious Press), Upward Coast and Sadie (forthcoming in 2012 from Mud Luscious Press), and The Kasahara School of Nihilism (Fugue State Press) – referred to as ‘tksn’ throughout our interview.

Brooks is eighteen years old and has the four novels above as well as something like at least seven in progress (that I know of). The worst part is that they are all fucking great heartbreaking human things.

If you’re not into interviews, go love an excerpt. Otherwise…

At the time of the interview I hadn’t read tskn and was really just trying to trick Ben into telling me what it’s about and giving me an advance copy. I have since read tksn a few times and consequently feel I have a deeper understanding re: the meaning of nihilism. Sort of I wish I’d done the interview after I read the book because I now have a lot of questions about bears.

ok go
what music were you listening to during the writing of tksn
Ben: i listened to yann tiersen and rolo tomassi a lot
me: how long did it take you to write the whole thing
Ben: i dont know. not very long. maybe two or three weeks.
me: and during that time you only listened to those two exclusively?
Ben: are you interrogating me?
me: yes
Ben: no i didnt. sometimes songs played on television adverts in the background. mostly i listen to [BBC] radio 4. on which the only music is sailing by every night before the shipping forecast and the national anthem every night after the shipping forecast.
me: shit really
do you feel self-conscious about the overt reference to [haruki] murakami in the title, why or why not
Ben: what is the overt reference to murakami in the title
me: kasahara?
Ben: as in the character ‘may kasahara’?
me: i supposed so all this time, yes?
Ben: it doesnt seem too overt. she isnt even the protagonist in wind-up bird. maybe it is overt. if it is i dont care. i dont care.
me: thinking on it i suppose it’s only ‘overt’ if you are familiar with murakami and you know that ben brooks likes murakami. have you been to japan?
Ben: no. [our mutual friend] crispin [best] lived in japan for a while though and after he read the book he said it painted quite an accurate picture of japan.
me: what was your overall mood when you were writing tksn
Ben: lonely and sexually charged.
me: haha
part of the novel’s description on fugue state press says ‘sex as unguided yearning’ – what does this mean
Ben: it means that everyone everywhere is lonely and we all want to fuck each other.
me: where is your hometown? is everyone there lonely? why?
Ben: my home town is in ‘the midlands’ of England. it is called Gloucester. it is an unexceptional town filled with people who do not want anything but to work all week and drink alcopops in shitty disco clubs at the weekend while putting arms around their stupid friends and mouthing the words to songs like dizzee rascal’s ‘bonkers’.
me: hahahhaa
is it one of those ‘there’s nothing to do for us kids here’ towns? where did you go to school and what did you kids do after-school?
Ben: yes it is, but a lot of the kids dont realise that. i went to school at SIR THOMAS RICHS GRAMMAR SCHOOL. i have only just finished. after school i normally went home and drank tea and, depending on the year, watched richard and judy or tracy beaker or something. every day on the way home from school since the age of 12 or 13 i have rolled and smoked 1 cigarette. same for the journey to school. the distance between my house and school was ‘exactly two cigarettes’.
me: the characters in tksn are students too aren’t they? how ‘auto-biographical’ is it
Ben: there are things in tksn that i have done. for example smoking cigarettes on the way to school. there are things in tksn that i havent done, for example being sexually harassed by a jesuit priest. in total it is maybe 12% ‘explicitly auto-biographical’ and 88% ’emotionally auto-biographical’
me: how emo is this book, in percentage
Ben: 23-25% ’emo’ if ’emo’ is ‘the subculture’ and 98% ’emo’ if ’emo’ is short for ’emotional’
clearly they are both short for ’emotional’
you know what i mean maybe
me: i do know what you mean and i meant the latter. in the book, what other emo topics are covered? e.g. ‘loneliness’, ‘belonging’, ‘sex’
Ben: ‘hallucinations’, ‘delusion’, ‘morbid fascination with death’, ‘violence’, ‘arson’, ‘the breaking of school rules’, ‘the breaking of laws’, ‘the idea of ‘the grass being greener”, ‘withdrawal’, ‘bullying in the school environment’, ‘male chauvinism’, ‘happy slapping’, ‘eating quietly’, ‘negative experiences with the police’, ‘nudity’, etc
me: what do you think one of your ex-classmates would think if they read it
Ben: ‘i always knew that kid was weird, he touched my ass once in assembly’
me: hahaha
what do you think people should do to be less lonely
Ben: i dont know. i am a young male with very few life experiences. for me reading murakami helps.
me: do you feel lonely in general or specifically, and how much/why
Ben: i think i feel lonely in general ‘most of the time’. this is down to not liking very many people. most people are boring and i do not want to spend time with them.
me: when does the world end
Ben: whenever i die i suppose
me: if you were forced to put tksn into a category, e.g. ‘magic realism’, ‘surrealism’, etc, what would it be
Ben: i dont think i have ever had a ‘tag’ put on my novels really, like about the style. it seems unimportant. what would you call it ani smith?
me: hahaha
i have no idea
what are you going to write next
Ben: i am working on a large number of different things. a lot of them will never be finished. taking up most of my time at the moment is a trilogy of YA novels about a Changeling.
Ben: yes, isnt that exciting?
me: haha
ok do you want to say more about that
about the YA novels i mean
Ben: i would like to say that if an agent of YA fiction is reading this then can they please paypal me several thousand pounds and i will send the first book to them.
me: hahahahaha
seems like a good end to the interview
‘the sales pitch’
very subtle
i like it
Ben: ahah thankyou

One Comment
  1. August 13, 2010 \am\31 1:19 am 1:19 am

    i think i’m going to go write a novel now.

    a chill bro & a chill interview.

    i really liked:

    “it means that everyone everywhere is lonely and we all want to fuck each other.”


    “me: when does the world end
    Ben: whenever i die i suppose”

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