Q & A with JP Paul - Part III

 

I sense some similarities with a number of authors. Douglas Coupland from Vancouver is the first that comes to mind. English writer of Jamaican descent, Zadie Smith. Nick Hornby. "The Descendants" by Kaui Hart Hummings. Can you give your thoughts on these or similar books and authors?

Of the millions of books in print, I'm sure there are plenty. None that I recall are dead ringers but here are a few that have similarities:

Douglas Coupland's books have a similar voice even though the writing style is distinct. Doug is more experimental. I lived in Vancouver around the time he was publishing some of his early works. I also was front and center in the tech industry of the 80s and 90s that features in some of his works. I knew him vaguely from the art scene. Coupland deals with a range of similar issues from dysfunctional families, isolation, being misinterpretated, career disillusionment in our 20s or 30s, the changing age of technology and the corporate jungle. Nick Hornby also comes to mind in parts of that realm. I'd love people to eventually consider my work in their league.

Some say there is a similarity with some of the journalists turned novelist. Fallaci, Thompson, I'm sure there are others. As journalists, they rolled important, real world issues into more accessible novel format. My intent is similar.

Zadie Smith is half Jamaican, a child of a mixed family. Her treatment of multi-cultural issues and detachment parallels many of my experiences. My nuclear family is also multi-cultural and we've been immersed in diverse societies, for better or worse. This inevitably surfaces in the themes and plot of the book, as it does in hers.

"The Descendants" by Kaui Hart Hummings explores two cultures, American and Hawaiian. It deals with an inheritance issue, a single father and a confrontation with the late wife's lover. Mine is based in Florida and Jamaica and the battle is between a private landowner and a mega-transnational. I think, style-wise, both books are brash and unapologetic.

If you enjoy any of those authors, I think you'll enjoy Rattle. One reviewer who I've known for two decades says the voice of RATTLE is clearly mine but with touches of Colum McCann, Thomas Berger's "Neighbors" and Tom DeLillo's "Underworld." Another said some of my characters are "unlikable but magnetic" as those of Claire Messud or Thomas Bernhard. I'm honored to be even mentioned in such company. At the end of the day, I'm confident that the book and its characters will connect. Plaudits to E.M. Forster for showing the importance of base-level connection. More than one of my beta readers said "you gotta love Max," one of the main protagonists in RATTLE. Even the villain CEO isn't such a bad guy once you peel off the veneer. Another says the women characters shine. I tend to agree. They are strong, independent and determined, probably due to the phenomenal women I've been blessed to have in my own life. In many ways, the main female characters are three of the four pillars of the story even though they're in the shadows for much of the story.

Are there writers who you especially admire?

Too many to mention but I'll list as many as I can! I admire every author who has been published, gained an audience and enticed readers to come back for more. Some that come to mind are the late David Foster-Wallace as well as Douglas Coupland, Jay McInerney, David Mitchell, Paul Auster, Tama Janowitz, Tom DeLillo, Collum McCann, Michael Chabon and Paul Harding. I loved the challenges previously laid forth by complex authors such as Thomas Pynchon or William Gaddis, the intense critics such as Norma Klein, David Markson and Christopher Hitchens, or further back the complex imagery of Joyce or Faulkner. I frequent the same Uruguayan beach town where Martin Amis and his wife Isabel Fonseca wrote fine work for a few years and totally understand why they chose that setting to live and write for a few years. Some of the experimental Beat Gen writers who defined an era are fun to revisit, as are many of the LatAm magic realists who developed a platform that continues to be imitated in the region's art and literature through many generations.

 

November 2017:   Questions were culled from conversations and correspondence with author JP Paul.

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