Welcome to It's Raining Books. What are your favorite TV shows?
Most of the time, I don’t care what I watch—as long as it comes from the New-Hollywood Era. That’d be circa 1970 to circa 1980. I’ll watch any genre of movie or television show from that era—even commercials. For whatever reason, seventies cinematography pleases me. Today everything looks too clear and perfect and digital. Everything looks like a video game or a computer screen.
What is your favorite meal?
Probably fish and chips or bangers and mash with bread and butter. Most people malign British street food, but I love it. I love most kinds of street food actually.
If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?
Someday I do hope to write a loosely-related trilogy of novels which, in a diverting way, would serve to explicate the purpose of civilization and the dangers of primitivism. In between the book about civilization and the book about primitivism, I would write a book about the harrowing way in which civilization intersects with primitivism: politics.
Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?
I don’t idolize any one writer, but my influences include: Basho, Ray Bradbury, Goethe, Heine, Nietzsche, Georges Bataille, Hesiod, Erik Linklater, and Ian Fleming. I suppose it’s a bit of an eclectic mix, but probably everyone else has an eclectic set of preferences.
How did you come up for the title of this book?
I took it from Heine’s “Der Gesang der Okeaniden,” which translates to “Song of the Oceanides.” The German poem describes a lovesick man standing on a beach in Bremen. There he announces his adoration for some beautiful maiden, but as soon as he’s finished making his amatory confession, the Oceanides call out to tell him what a total loser he is.
I agree with Heine that the Oceanides are the most fascinating mean girls in world literature. This is because the Oceanides ring true. Sirens are half-bird, and I don’t meet many women answering to that description. On the other hand, an Oceanide is just a very beautiful insensitive young lady who happens to live on the beach. Everybody knows someone like that.
Read an excerpt:
Dyce’s Head, Maine.
Rory Slocum had only just returned home from Putnam’s General Store and Newsagent when he noticed the girl standing in the heart of the garden. She seemed to be lost in the music of the wind chimes dangling from Mother’s lilac tree. Still, despite the girl’s seeming innocence, somehow he just knew that she must be one of the Oceanides who had been taunting him all summer long.
She must have heard his footsteps in the salty afternoon breeze because she turned to look upon him. What a comely girl too.
A bit of jam and then some! He stopped in his tracks and studied her classical features.
She had plum-black hair, eyes of sea green, bold chiseled planes to her face, fine hallowed cheeks, and a sharp jaw line. How could she be anything but an Oceanide?
Slowly he advanced as far as the fog cannon where he paused a second time. Perhaps he would do something so as to entertain her, and once she realized how amusing he could be, she would tell the others to leave him be. He walked over to the lilac tree. “Look what I’ve got here!” With that he held up his copy of Sir Pilgarlic Guthrie’s Phantasy Retrospectacle.
She must have resented the whole notion that a boy like Rory would even think to approach someone like her. Grimacing, she called to another girl who had just walked up through the gale-torn bluffs. The two of them spoke in a tongue resembling the Byzantine Greek in which the drunken churchwarden sometimes delivered his public addresses.
As giddy as ever, Rory advanced a few more steps. “You know what they call this sort of picture book, do you? Down at Putnam’s, they tell me it’d be un comique pittoresque. Just like the newsagents sell down there in Paris.” Now he pointed to the picture on the dust jacket—the Oceanides’ long flowing hair and the mint-cream linen gowns reaching down to their ankles. Afterward he pointed at the girls themselves standing there in their own creamy-white gowns. “Sir Pilgarlic Guthrie, he’s the bettermost! Everything bang up to the elephant and—”
“Have you any idea how odd you are?” the first Oceanide asked. “And you’ll be beginning your fifth year in school next fall, isn’t that right? They’ll tear you apart, a beanpea like you.”
About the Author:
The author returned to the piece while working for the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society, May-September, 2005. He completed the full draft in Ellsworth, Maine later that year.
For more information, please see http://jgzymbalist.com
NOTE: The book is FREE at Amazon
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/JG-Zymbalist/e/B01B1ZLE2A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
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