Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Interview with Carole Maso

1)Fall Semester 2006, in my Fiction Writing Class--with Lily as an instructor again--we were assigned Ava, Carole. All remember to prior to this second digestion that I liked it, a lot. A whole lot, but serial quoting was not going to be the name of the game. I re-open this work and it is divine. And there is some notes I liked to address. My friend had scribbled down--and quoted? by a phantom authority?--a "gorgeous mess." Would you deem that a perfect characterization or an imperfect incarceration of the work of Ava?

CM: I think it is that at times, but the book really feels elusive to me, just outside my grasp and not easily stabilized by a phrase—even one of my own

2)Another note written was that "blanks are described as the air you breathe between phrases." Obviously, you are an advocate of spatial movement in literature and in novel. What are exactly are you feel i n gs toward such a p r o g r e s s i v eand avant concept? Do you recommend all young writers try it? Do you feel that this element is a very misused element?

CM:I think any given text has to find its own way to the page, and that look, or arrangement or configuration as much as any other component, is the story. It’s not an arbitrary thing, but it often takes a lot of experimentation to know and understand what space on a page is about, what it might do, what the potentials are. This is well worth playing with in exercises, so that one feels free and open to those potentialialities in a realized work of art. 3)The greatest thing above Ava is its random nature. But for you the writer, this is obvious all by your devilish design. How did you organize the random nature of Ava's final day and hours? Is Ava more or less adopting your stream of consciousness and mental exercise as you explore the full of life of Ava or do you say I will divulge this memory and not evolve it to here and jump here and oh yeah we'll move back to this place? Simply, how do you organize the random?

CM: AVA was written in a trance, informed utterly by music, and the sorrow and joy of watching a close friend in hhis last months of life. It was written without conscious decision making, it was written freely and only after it was finished, was it reworked slightly to make certain rhythms or patterns more emphatic. It was arranged largely by intuition and a sort of intelligence that feels quite beyond me.4) When researching for this interview, I came upon an analysis of your text in comparison to the discussion of Massachusetts poet Mary Ruefle's discussion and definition of the semi-colon. I can see the comparison of your text and the concept of the semi-colon, "which connects the first line to the last, the act of keeping together that whose nature is to fly apart." Do you see your novel as such? And if your novel is one very, very, very, long sentence line, can we coin your book a novel? (I can and will, but I love to hear your thoughts.)

CM: I don’t know that semi-colon discussion you are referring to, but I don’t see the book as trying to keep together things that are flying apart. It seems to suggest a kind of argument for unity or wholeness I am not sure the book actually adheres to. I don’t see it as one very long sentence—if I thought that was they what it really was, I would have written it that way.

5) Without a doubt, this book brilliantly challenges literary conventions on multiple levels. Did you feel like you were taking a risk by writing "Ava"? If so, what do you think is the biggest risk in writing such a unique novel? What most inspired you to do it?

I was bored by every novel I picked up. Nothing I could see seemed to have anything at all to do with how I moved through the world or how I perceived it. How the figures in my world appeared to me. The ways my mind and heart and body move. It did not feel like a risk to write. I just wanted to get closer to what it was like for me to be alive. To have written in the other old formulaic would have been much more difficult a task and would have in a strange way been to die a little, and I did not want to die anymore.6) There are tons of references to literature, writing literature, authors - Virginia Woolf, Neruda, Garcia Lorca, etc...- , but there seems to also be a focus on film as well - conversations about film and/or filmmakers, and Francesco being a filmmaker, and the book is extremely visual at times. I was wondering, how did film play a part in your writing "Ava"? (If it did play a part) Is the style or structure at all influenced by any particular filmmaking techniques?

CM: I am a film addict. I feel film can do some things far more effortlessly and elegantly than other mediums. I love it. Great films are a constant source of inspiration. 7) What do you hope the reader will get out of this book? If you could choose one thing above all else...?

CM: The intense beauty and mystery of a human life.

8) What cord did hope to strike within your readers by writing in such a distinct format?

CM: A sense of wonder at that beauty and mystery. A sense of possibility and the dimensions of joy.

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