BSS #142: Brian Francis Slattery


Condition of Mr. Segundo: Objecting to snobbish Manhattan types who use three names.

Author: Brian Francis Slattery

Subjects Discussed: Matt Cheney’s “leap of faith,” paranoia, the advantages of writing in Guatemala, secret economies, food as cultural shorthand, the underground world of Darktown, H.P. Lovecraft and other fictive antecedents, disparate relationship models, writing sentences without many verbs, locative and temporal fugue states, writing to African music, polyrhythm, disorienting the reader, Square video games, dialogue, ellipses, em dashes, William Gaddis, quotation marks vs. dashes in dialogue, sticking in one’s hometown, attempting to classify the book, coming to New York vs. coming to America, Spaceman Blues as a “systems novel,” sentences, not casting judgment on characters, cockfighting, warning the reader of weirdness, on not knowing the ending, apocalyptic novels, hyperverbosity, resisting the 9/11 card, Don DeLillo, and Pynchonian character names.


Slattery: For a while, I thought that I would have those scenes take place in a specific neighborhood in New York. And I spent a long time thinking about, well what group would I want to focus on and where would I want it to be? And then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I kind of wanted to talk about the immigrant experience — generally. I didn’t want to have to tie it to a specific group. And in some ways, I wanted to talk about the ways that the various immigrant groups, when they get here, will tend to work together. There’s such a thing as an immigrant community. And I wanted to be able to talk about that in a sort of cool and engaging way, and also to really get across the point that that’s this full network that you don’t see. You know, it exists here. But you have to know where to look in order to find it.

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