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/

Martutene by Ramon Saizarbitoria

(I am excited to share a short preview of my essay about Martutene. Please read the rest of it at The Quarterly Conversation along with some amazing essays about books from around the world. Cheers!)

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The 2013 publication of Martutene earned Ramón Saizarbitoria his second Euskadi Literature Prize and helped to cement his status as one of the patriarchs of Basque literature. A grand and audacious novel, Martutene is just over 800 pages and presents a nuanced perspective of the contemporary Basque experience. History, politics, language, and culture ripple through the characters’ daily interactions. Saizarbitoria dramatizes the best and worst of the contemporary Basque experience—national pride and cultural intolerance, as well as gastronomy and terrorism.

It is important to recognize the cultural significance surrounding the English publication of this novel. Saizarbitoria has published twelve books, yet he is most likely unfamiliar to most American readers of translated literature because only one of his books has appeared in English: Rossetti’s Obsession, published through the Center for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. Yet he is worthy of much greater renown. One of the impetuses for the publication of Martutene in English was the book’s energetic reception in Spain; among other commendations, the jury of the Euskadi Literature Prize (2014) declared it “the most important novel of Basque-language literature and the top one in terms of quality too, destined to be the core of the Basque canon.”

Read the more at The Quarterly Conversation.

Jacob C. Singer

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Welcome to my website. Feel free to take a look at my writing and photography (links at the top of the page). Most of my writing focuses on fiction, but I have some interviews with visual artists and musicians. My goal is to expand the content on this site over the coming month. So more to come!

Follow me on Twitter @jacobcsinger

 

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(A print of Dean Meeker’s Don Quixote – a family heirloom)