News: Interview with Hugh Fox, Issue 2: "Monkeyshine" and "Thou Shalt"
Monday, November 26, 2007
* KAOLIN FIRE: Hugh--
HUGH FOX: First off, I can't tell you how much I appreciate the $. I got some winter pants for myself. It's the first time this month I felt I had some money that is MINE. I'm married to a Brazilian dictator M.D. and to her I'm just this Indian song-singer out in the Amazon bushes and swamps....
* Congratulations, then, and glad to help! Now that we've jumped feet first into the interview, can you tell us a little about Monkeyshine? Where did it come from?
The idea for "Monkeyshine" came from my grandson, Alexander, who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
My daughter, Margaret and her husband, Johann, are total intellectual SUPER BRIGHT NERDS..
Both of them have their Ph.D. from the University of Abderdeen in Scotland, her in German Philosophy and him in French. He's Jewish, his family from Algiers, born and raised in Paris. My daughter teaches at Harvard and Tufts and he's at MIT. But the horrible problem these days is that no one gets TENURE!!! So she is studying to be a Kindergarten teacher....to get a permanent job and build up some retirement money.
No TV's in the house. Johann is a maniac viz a viz SOCCER...and so if he has a TV around he forgets his scholarly writing and devotes himself totally to just that!!! But the kids have a little computer-deal of some kind that plays DVD'S. So they watch films.
When they come here in the summer (usually for 6 weeks) , they go CRAZY with normal, ordinary TV, especially the Disney channel.
But when they talk they both (Alex and his 11 year old sister, Rebecca) sound like Harvard professors. They also go to Hebrew school, and when I took them to the synagogue here they knew all the songs in Hebrew. But their vocabulary really belongs in the mouth of some Member of the English Parliament c. 1895.....
"How ya doin'?" I ask in my Chicago street-accent.
"I'm doing quite well," says Alexander, "a bit of insomnia....my usual obsessions.....I wanted to stay up some more hours watching TV, but eventually I cleared my mind and slid down into sleep."
I find both of them HILARIOUS.
* I can definitely see that reflected in your work, and I hope our readers get as much of a kick out of it as we did. That's generally the goal, anyway. How did "Thou Shalt" come about?
I live in Lansing, Michigan where GM just closed down and they're tearing down the empty factories, huge amounts of people out of work, For Sale sign everywhere, all kinds of crime, robbing pizza stores, breaking into cars, murders. I watch the Chicago news every night too, the British and German news, see the U.S. rather quickly disintegrating, the whole world getting caught up in tribal/sectarian violence.
It's like the Amorites in the bible, God saying "You can kill them, kill their children, take their cattle, I give the land to you, my people." When the Rabbi in my synagogue brought that up one night, I put up my hand and said "How about trying the prayer book...you know, love your neighbor as yourself...."
Life is so, so short. I'm 75 and it's felt like one day. I've become a total NOWIST, my voices inside me whispering full-time "NOW, NOW, NOW, ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN, IT WON'T BE LONG!" I have five statues of Buddha in the house so practically anywhere I sit I can look up and see him sitting in the midst of sane meditations!
* How did writing "Monkeyshine" and "Thou Shalt" compare to your other writing?
I often draw my work from the world around me. I usually write every night before I go to bed. No more novels right now....I have about 30 unpublished novels I'm trying to find places for. Plus plays, books of criticism (a critical book about S.F. poet A.D. Winans), books on archaeology, etc.
* Other than having a steady stream of publication credits since the 60's, at least, what makes you think you can write?
All I've done all my life is be immersed in the arts. Writing, drawing, composing music, playing the piano...that's all ME.....
I read a lot. I'm always reviewing magazines, novels, poetry books for SMALL PRESS REVIEW. Hundreds and hundreds of reviews over the last 40 years.....
* Do you have a favorite piece of writing, published or otherwise?
My favorite novel is called IN THE BEGINNING, based on a friendship I had with one of my students back in California in the 60's. She's now 79 and a widow, I'm 75. It's mainly about aging, Part I when we're in our thirties, part I in our 70's, me dying from prostate cancer. Not published. I think it's too much a "classic" for most modern editors.
* Any suggestions for how to save short fiction?
Get teachers in high school and in college to concentrate on literary mags.....everything now is ON LINE, laptops and the like....I think education itself has to be re-oriented toward magazines and books, an awareness of the contemporary literary scene.
* That's definitely something we're trying to do. If you know any, send them our way. We'd love to get classroom sets (print or PDF) into classrooms. PDFs we can do inexpensively. Print copies, well, maybe we can work something out. We're flexible!
I love GUD. Can't wait to see my story in print...and I'll review GUD for SMALL PRESS REVIEW.
BLESSINGS ON YOU FOR YOUR SAVIOR-ROLE ON THE CULTURAL SCENE!!
* Thank you! And thanks for the interview. Hugh Fox, everybody! (waits for the applause--hey, leave comments on the post, okay?) And if you want a bit more on him, check his bio and some selected poems at the poets' encyclopedia: http://www.poetsencyclopedia.com/hughfox.shtml
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