STEVE AYLETT WALKS THE PLANK--ARRRR
I've had few pleasures as pure and unabashed this year as reading Steve Aylett's Lint, which purports to chronicle the life and career of fiction writer Jeff Lint. Along the way, Aylett sends up everything from various writing subcultures to pulp fiction, the pulp era, editors, and pop culture.
For once, PR from a book's publisher is astonishingly accurate:
Steve Aylett has always gone a step farther than his contemporaries. In Slaughtermatic, he pushed the limits of science fiction, and for that he was named a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award. Now, in Lint, he offers the first-ever biography of one of the great minds of our time: Jeff Lint, author of some of the strangest and most inventive satirical SF of the late twentieth century. Lint transcended genre in classics such as Jelly Result and The Stupid Conversation, becoming a cult figure and pariah. Like his contemporary Philip K. Dick, he was "blithely ahead of his time."
Aylett follows Lint through his Beat days, his immersion in pulp SF, psychedelia, and resentment, his disastrous scripts for Star Trek and Patton, and his belated Hollywood success in the 1990s. It was a career haunted by death, including the undetected death of his agent; the controversial death of his rival, Herzog; and the unshakable "Lint is dead" rumors, which persisted even after his death. This hilarious mock biography is outrageous and remarkably funny, Aylett is an Evelyn Waugh for our time.
Lint is an amazing book, in my opinion, but it wouldn’t work if you didn’t have a great deal of underlying sympathy for Lint as he bumbles his way through yet another absurd episode of his own life. There’s a great deal of love in this book—for writers and for their work—as well as insight.
Not to mention, I laughed out loud while reading Lint more than I ever have reading any other book I can remember. It’s a stunner, and will be on my best-of-the-year list for 2005.
Walking the Plank: Five Questions for Steve Aylett
Why should readers pick up your new book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
LINT’s guaranteed to have at least 95 times more original ideas in it than any other book on the market. The fact that it has anything original in it at all makes it a throbbing alien artefact in today’s bookshop. I like it.
Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
I think that's irredeemable at this point.
Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
I suppose LINT promotes individuality and honesty with oneself, so, with society operating as it does, no, I think it would only make things worse. The words “armed seige”, “shot officers and then shot self” come to mind.
Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
If they were like me at that age they'd find it like water in the desert. Even at this age I would experience it like that if I was a reader and found one of these books out there. Things are pretty arid these days. But, of course, it would irreversibly alienate the child from his peers, if he wasn't socially severed already. Because it makes the brain work faster.
If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
What would I be if I wasn't a writer? Martin Amis, probably. Ho ho. Actually if I had my life again I'd do everything differently. I'd be female, for a start. And I wouldn't want to be English or American. I'd be French at the very least. Not Italian, obviously. Spanish would be okay. So, a Spanish woman. I'd be a lesbian so as to have as little as possible to do with men—I guess that part would carry over from this lifetime. I love animals so I'd want to work with animals—so, something like a zoologist, or someone who observes apes or dolphins. So there it is, a Spanish lesbian zoologist. That's the life for me.