A Conversation with James Reich (Entropy)

James Reich is the publisher behind Stalking Horse Press and author of numerous books and articles. In this interview, Reich discuses his two most recent novels from Anti-Oedipus Press. Soft Invasions is set in Los Angeles during the early ‘40s and dramatizes psychoanalysis, nativism, and paranoia at the dawn of the Second World War. This psychedelic book focuses on Maxwell McKinney, a psychoanalyst, and Sid Starr, a screenwriter, in the form of a noir tale that plays with motifs and plot elements of Oedipus the King. Stylistically, Reich blends the language of Freud, the structure of Didion, and the mystery of Dashiell Hammett. Next, The Song My Enemies Sing takes mid-century science fiction tropes and twists it into a narrative that exists somewhere between a collection of stories and a novel. The cast is larger than Invasions. The setting more diverse—including California, Australia, Mexico, and Mars. While there is a thematic and stylistic connection between the books, both are unique. In this interview, Reich discusses his inspirations and the development of these books.

Jacob Singer: I’m interested in initial “big bang” moment of the story. What was the origin of Soft Invasions? And how did it progress stylistically? Psychoanalysis is woven through both substance and style. Was that there from the beginning?

James ReichSoft Invasions is the fallout from two volatile elements: the first was a vision I had of the “real” Battle of Los Angeles—the mass consensual UFO sighting that occurred in February 1942. That was its Jungian element. The second was the Freudian element, incest and the Oedipal family—the father who is so enamored of his son that he can longer tell whether that love might have a sexual component, and what, if anything, might prevent him from transgressing that taboo. The title Soft Invasions is multivalent, political, sexual, psychological. The novel also draws on psychoanalytic theory via Wilhelm Reich and Alfred Korzybski, both of whom were influential among the mid-century moderns, not least William S. Burroughs. Those things were always there for me. What developed most perversely was the spike in nationalism, nativism, and the very fears of invasion and contamination that the novel covers, during the 2016 election. As to style, I think our styles are dissimilar, but I was very impressed by Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays, that structure, and of course McCoy’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?


Read more at… https://entropymag.org/in-conversation-with-james-reich/