BSS #93: Nick Mamatas


Condition of Mr. Segundo: Introspective about his long lost lawn gnome.

Author: Nick Mamatas

Subjects Discussed: The X+Y book formula, H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Kerouac, Aristophanes’ The Acharnians, telepathy, garden gnomes, radioactive fallout, conspiracies, Elián González , Littleton, Under My Roof as allegory, the influence of current events upon narrative, Cthulhu as muse, Lovecraftian poetry, crazy tenants, writing short novels in a “big book”-friendly environment, working with Night Shade and Soft Skull, Skybars, the downside of product placement in the future, pursuing an MFA, health insurance, narrative ideology, character testimonials, the influence of Animal House, micronation novels, George Saunders’ The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, Duck Soup, and life-changing YA novel experiences.


Mamatas: Well, at first it was going to be a lawn jockey.

Correspondent: Really?

Mamatas: Yes. In an early draft, I had it as a lawn jockey. But I figured that was too unctuously petty bourgeois. I thought a garden gnome was more down market. And also, they’re bigger. So you can put more nuclear stuff inside a garden gnome.

Correspondent: But at the same time, there’s also a certain kind of suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Because if you actually go ahead and try to produce a nuclear device in a garden gnome, there’s going to be some radioactive fallout. The FBI guys kind of show up and like — I’m thinking the FBI would immediately sort of seize this family. And yet they don’t. I was wondering if this kind of realism isn’t of concern for you, or is it meant to be more of a meditative kind of…

Mamatas: Well, partially it’s meditative. Partially, people get away with things, you know. 9/11 — people got away with it, even though there were many people watching these terrorists and keeping their eye on them. But they all managed to get through and carry out this attack. There’s almost a nationalist type of myth that the FBI and the CIA are super-competent and that we always know what’s going on. That’s part of why we have the 9/11 denial movement, or conspiracy movement.

One Comment

  1. Remember the old days when Mamatas and Wenclas would have it out on what was then the ULA bulletin board? That finally ended with ole Karl promising to come up to Hoboken to kick Nick’s ass – but he never did, and right after that threat the bulletin board was taken down by the Wenc’s “handlers.”

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