G. Arthur Brown Joins Rooster as Head Editor

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Art by Jarvis Chickpea

The proceeding is an interview with the supposed G. Arthur Brown. 


First, feel free to give a little background on yourself and your own written work.

I started writing absurd proto-Bizarro fiction long ago (c. 1996), before it had a name or I knew there was a market for it. This was also before I knew there were quasi-popular writers like Mark Leyner or Donald Barthelme or Thomas Pynchon who just didn’t give a rat’s ass about the conventions of popular fiction, and before I’d read any Kafka. So I gave up on writing for a long time, not picking it up again until about 2007, with the added advantage of having now read Borges, Burroughs, and Ionesco, as well as having seen many bizarre and highly inspirational films, such as Cemetery Man, Mulholland Drive, Schizopolis, Naked Lunch, and Dead Alive. Then, I stumbled upon the Bizarro community and the rest is history.

My first book, Kitten, was published by Eraserhead Press as part of the New Bizarro Author Series in 2012. I immediately earned so much money that I purchased a solid gold yacht, which promptly sank, leaving me penniless—the entire hold was filled with my extensive penny collection and, in retrospect, may have quickened the sinking. In 2014, I released a flash fiction collection titled I Like Turtles, which was nominated for a Wonderland Award. And in 2016, my second novella, Governor of the Homeless, emerged from the fledgling Psychedelic Horror Press. Rumor has it I still write and may have something coming out next year.

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What draws you to a narrative work?

A strong, highly weird premise with an idiosyncratic narrative voice. Ultimately, I find that if I don’t care how a writer is telling the story then plot alone is not really enough to sell me. But at the same time I hate the snobbery of capital-L Literature. I like a fun story told smartly, somewhere between pulp and academic bullshit.

What’s the deal with all these chemtrails?

They killed Prince, that’s for sure. I think now that we don’t have Ziggy Stardust to protect us from the Centaurians, it’s open season on celebrities with all kinds of dastardly chemical attacks. (“Stardust” is an obvious warning about extraterrestrial CHEMTRAIL plots.)

Are there any authors whose works you wished were more widely read?

Brian Evenson would be the main one, though he seems to be getting more attention in the past couple of years. Still, he should be taught in every writing course in America. The guy can do so many amazing things with words that he can write two or three permutations of the same basic premise and make them all into distinct, compelling stories that still blow my mind. He has the gift to span popular fiction to literature to the utterly bizarre, from humorous to horrific. I recommend The Wavering Knife to all fans of short fiction and Last Days to people who prefer longer works.

Brian Allen Carr and Laura Lee Bahr, though they ought to be starting a detective agency called Carr & Bahr, are two of my current favorite authors whom I’d like to see getting more attention for their weird and artful prose. I look forward to new releases from them both like a kid waiting for Christmas (or Jewish Christmas, if you are not French Orthodox).

And of course everyone should be reading Kelly Link, but I don’t think my sheet cred (like street cred but from the sheets of paper that writers write on) is going to do much to boost her already successful career. However, I do feel that a lot of people who like weird stuff probably don’t read her because 1) she’s a girl—and there is still a bias against female authors as not being EXTREME enough—and 2) she’s got a Fantasy association that makes a lot of people who came from Horror want to dismiss her as irrelevant. But I came from a Fantasy background and I’ll meet you with chain or nozh or britva anytime.

As a reader, what kills a story for you?

Bad dialogue, where it reads as if the writer is speaking directly out of the mouths of all the characters. Bad dialogue, where it reads as if the writer is trying to imitate dialect they’ve only seen on an episode of Quincy (that’s old school CSI). Attempts to inject politics where they don’t belong. Predictable plots that lack self-awareness. Pretentious displays of formal experimentalism (that lack tongue-in-cheek self-awareness). Stories that are so plot driven that the characters become irrelevant. Too many similes. Not enough similes. CHEMTRAIL has also killed many stories.

Any literary pet peeves?

Yeah, I guess. I don’t like it when there’s a character—say, a guy in a jean jacket—to whom the author then feels entitled to refer by the ad hoc nickname “Jean Jacket.” You are a dick if you do this in real life (Sup, Jean Jacket?) and no less so on the page. Trust me, “the guy in the jean jacket” is a fine way to reference this character. Better yet, just give the dude a name. (His name is probably Chad or Larry. If he also has a mustache, that’s Russel.)

Clichés kill me too, unless they are self-aware (if you aren’t getting the drift yet, I’m partial to postmodern approaches). Also, confusion of words in common phrases drives me nuts. If you are going to use a cliché, at least make sure you are phrasing it correctly: champing at the bit, stanching the flow, testing your mettle, home in, that doesn’t jibe with, bated breath, pore over, toe the line, shoo in, free rein, set foot in, wreak havoc, beck and call, pique my interest, etc. You’d be surprised how many of these slip by editors in an incorrect form and make it to print. I always notice these errors and mark it down in my journal. All my journals are then sent to the Galactic Headquarters for analysis to decide whether Earth can be admitted to the Council of Planets.

And I hate it when people try to avoid directly referencing the ethnicity of a character and try to use “creative” ways to describe the person that end up portraying exactly the kind of condescending tone the author hoped to avoid. Just come out and tell us the ethnicity if it’s going to be important to understanding the character. If it’s not important, then don’t bother describing it at all.

What kind of projects do you look forward to bringing to Rooster Republic?

My vision is to work with creative authors who write quirky, fun, moderately smart (probably no books with “poop” in the title [unless they are self-aware{see: Postmodernist Preference}]) stories told in a distinctive voice—stories that are too weird for the mainstream but still accessible on some level. Humor, absurdity, and surreal elements are highly desired but not necessarily required. If your work has been compared to any of the writers I reference above, esp. Carr and Bahr, or has been highly influenced by stuff like Time Bandits, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Big Trouble in Little China, or Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, send it my way. If your favorite screen writer is Charlie Kaufman or your favorite director is Quentin Dupieux or Guy Maddin, definitely send me something. And if you think Wilfred and The Leftovers are two of the best TV shows ever, you are probably on my exact wave length.

Any current projects that you’d like to make readers aware of?

Project: End CHEMTRAIL still needs funding. This is a special mission where people send me money so I can eat burritos to stave off the effects of CHEMTRAIL flu. Contact me to find out how to contribute to this very important cause.

eyepatchYou can contact G. at garthurbrown@hotmail.com

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