An Interview with FC2 Author Luke Goebel — Part Three
Luke B. Goebel is a fiction writer who is alive in Texas. His first novel, FOURTEEN STORIES | None of Them Are Yours, will be released by FC2 (2014) as the 2012 winner of the (FC2) Ronald Sukenick Prize For Innovative Fiction. He won the Joan Scott Memorial Fiction Award in 2011. Goebel is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at Tyler. He’s served as co-editor and guest editor for The New York Tyrant over several years through its latest issue. He has fictions forthcoming or published in The American Reader, Elimae, Green Mountains Review, The New York Tyrant, UNSAID, Gigantic, Everyday Genius, [PANK], and elsewhere.
Interview by JENN MAR
Jenn Mar: You mentioned that “Insides” gets a lot of its force from departures, “in how it starts and stops, jumps, departs.” Would you characterize your forthcoming collection in this same way? During your Franklin Park reading, you mentioned that Fourteen Stories and None of Them Are Yours comprises of only thirteen stories, but since the thirteen stories created a “novel,” that would make it fourteen.
Will you explain what you mean by that?
Luke Goebel: Did you know some people fall in love with inanimate objects? like real love? like a woman i keep reading about who fell in love with a ferris wheel? so much in love that she became a traveling carnie? and followed bruce around? and then became his operator? and then got married to him, legally? but listen. there was a big storm. and bruce was destroyed and sent to a scrap heap in new jersey. and she’s now saving her money to buy his scraps to recreate him.
JM: I’m sorry. I guess I’m not sure how that answers my question. Maybe I should ask you if someone like me can enjoy your book, or is there something to “get” first.
LG: I just read “Emergency” by Denis Johnson again. Oh Christ. I never say that. Take the Lord’s name in vain. And I’m not being clever or hip. I’m serious. In my book maybe I say it. I mean I say God, all the time. Good God. This’s been my story. I don’t see rightly anymore. I came to UMass wearing a medicine blanket. Burned out to a crisp. Only not burned. I was electric. I was not enrolled. I was hovering. I was full of the passion of the freaked out. I could put a light bulb in my mouth and it would glow. Animals were prophetic to me. I could smell the damp shoe of the Robert Frost Trail and feel the rocks in my mouth and the dry tongue of terror. I didn’t dare visit the Dickinson. I don’t know what I wrote. I don’t know what I did. I do not know if you can get it. I can tell you “Emergency” is a hoax. The drugs and the freedom and the dream and the love of the smell of men’s bodies odors and hair in the day dawn sun were lives ago. Post 9-210. You know? We are all the left overs in the digital era and yet my book is an analogue affair. It’s Catholic and in the spirit of On Christian Doctrine mixed with American love of talk. Radio talk. Old 5th ave. Caufield. Or second half of Gatsby. Emergency talk. Everyone can get it. It’s a last ride. It’s the living gospel of the country and my family and my life and animals, God, and the road that lives and saves. That’s still singing up my knuckled spine. The knife in the eye. Of Hannah and Johnson and old me. You’ll get it. If you can stand being called Cocksucker and one eye and illiterate and brought to laugh and cry and have feet and toes and have them electric to the ground you will get it. It’s so easy to get. It’s a voice that takes your mind and GOES. It is the thing believed and felt all the way. It’s not something I came up with. It’s something come up with me. And rode me through. And now it isn’t mine. It needs you. I worry I don’t know what it is. Then I pick it up and it’s all there again. Right as rain sugar humid storms in the spring in Massachusetts in the west and those god damn outcroppings that look like every face in the peyote fire. They are every form ever existed in sign to man of the visual sense. They make you want to sleep under the mountain.
JM: That’s really something. You know, I don’t always understand how to compartmentalize these things you tell me about, but this interview, much like your stories, has me experiencing a certain mystery, even though these experiences resist explanation. When I read your stories, I feel the pulse of your characters and I believe in them, no matter how unreasonable their demands and desires, I get all out of breath just trying to keep up. Have you always written in this manner?
LG: They refused to be compartmentalized. That’s what made them nuts. They couldn’t be compartmentalized and stashed away. They are still ringing and feeling. I don’t know I’m just trying to do my best to get to the truth of myself—that’s what I’m trying to do—but I mean trying to the point of maybe harming myself not drastically but gradually. I’m confessing! I have found that I want to get to the immediate and the urgent feelings, and I can swear to you the book is so much cleaner than this interview. This interview would take the eight or nine years the book took to tell it all without becoming so thick. This interview is too thick. The book lets you let the top down. Lets you cruise and laugh. Brings in the good clean sea air.
I keep thinking of how many different selves I could show in an email interview, in how I answer one single aspect of just one of these questions. I just don’t want to intellectualize. I don’t want to promote but then I do. This is what is wrong with our generation. I don’t want to be a lousy cheat phony. I just want to tell you that there is this heart inside me that’s going to burst and while it’s thrumming I have this self and this love that it is singing and this oddness of current over these brainsongs and I, we, have worked like a madman to get that first and foremost over the past eight or nine years on this book and I have gotten it to sing, so the headache of the self and the broken parts of the lens don’t show and can’t be felt anymore and the book just gives and gives and gives. It just loves to ride. It’s just giving all it has all night and day. And then it’s GONE. And it recedes. And the sins are forgiven. Because they are little shit sins anyhow. I didn’t kill anyone but the guilt is like I did. And the world goes on. And it is just you not me and a part of the world you don’t forget, I hope, saying I love you, I love you, like Holden says I love you, like Daisy says I love you, like every author says I love you I love you I love you. Forget everything of me. Go find the next love affair.