JEFFREY FORD WALKS A LONG PLANK
My friend Jeffrey Ford's Cosmology of the Wider World is a wild and wonderful departure for the author. As the PS Publishing Web site describes it:
Jeffrey's Ford's extraordinary new fantasy novella, The Cosmology of the Wider World, is a beast epic, a talking animal story in the vein of The Jungle Books and The Wind in the Willows; but this is no ordinary fable. The protagonist, Belius, is a minotaur, a wanderer in strange labyrinths of the mind and body, and his story features sex, drugs and a healthy dose of pyrotechnic metaphysical profundity. There's murder too, an instance of bestiality, and quite a few references to Dante's Inferno...
From his coral tower in the other-dimensional refuge of the Wider World, Belius thinks back on his days in the lesser world of men, where he was born, a shocking anomaly, to a farming couple. His great philosophical work, The Cosmology, is at a standstill, and he realizes he cannot proceed with the book until he comes to terms with his halfling nature: one foot in the human world, one hoof in the animal. While his friends – Vashti, the owl, and Pezimote, a philandering tortoise – try to help him achieve peace of mind, Belius recalls scenes from his previous life, interspersed with the daily tribulations of the Wider World…via a love story, a literal and figurative inner journey, a bloodletting, a haunting by a ghostly apparition, a bet, a blinding, a prophecy, an act of creation, and an act of climactic destruction, he must come at last to a mad revelation of self.
It features a wrap-around cover by the extraordinary Kim Deitch and an introduction I'm almost finished writing. The book will be out in September.
Jeff kindly consented to submit to the five questions...and one extra, made up special.
JEFFREY FORD WALKS THE PLANK AND THEN SOME
Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
What other book out now has bestiality, digitalis smoking, murder by goring, the blinding of a mole, the ghost of a book, a mile long creature who sits at the bottom of the ocean near a volcanic crack in the seabed and has a goatee? OK, well there’s Silas Marner, but aside from that, this is it. And this one’s got a better cover and could some day have a cool introduction. In addition, I’ve been thinking about doing a promotional thing where I have these chocolate paddies made up to look like Minotaur flops, you know they’ll have like coconut and peanut filling, and little marzipan stropharea cubensis growing off them, and my thumbprint in each one. I’ll wrap them in pretty paper and top it off with a ribbon bearing a quote from me on it, like, “Bullshit.” They’ll go to the first eight lucky readers.
Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
The socially redeeming qulaities of this book are so subtle, so delicate, you won’t even realize, after reading it, that you’ve become a kinder more gentle person. You’ll only notice it when your spouse’s mother comes to visit and find that instead of leaving the roller skate at the top of the stairs, you’ve moved it half way down.
Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
This book cures everything from warts to St. Vitus Dance. You don’t even have to read it, all you have to do is buy it. The minute you take that credit card or cash out of your pocket, you’ll start to feel better. If you actually read it, Hold The Phone! The big toe of your consciousness will shoot up in the boot of your Being.
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?
They probably wouldn’t be horrified at all. Kids go for this talking animal business. And you know, like I said, it’s got the drugs, some mayhem – shoot, 8 year olds will be on this like it’s Pop Rocks. This is Beauty and the Beast for the Grand Theft Auto generation.
Now that you have finally sold out by writing a book featuring a boatload of talking animals, some of them quite cute, do you think you will ever have any street cred with your peeps again?
Street cred with my peeps? What the fuck? OK, V-Unit, word up. I’m an artist of the talking animal. If my “peeps” don’t like it they can stew the gherkin.
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?
I’ll still be here, filling cream doughnuts on the grave yard shift, as usual.
(Evil Monkey: "Hey--doesn't Mr. Ford also have a novel coming out?" Jeff: "Yeah--The Girl in the Glass. Here's some info on it. Looks great!
A band of con artists–cum–spiritual mediums focus their psychic and sleuthing powers on a murder mystery in Ford's offbeat, thoroughly researched fifth novel, set in Depression-era Long Island, on the posh North Shore. Diego, a 17-year-old Mexican illegal immigrant, narrates the escapades, as he follows his mentor and surrogate father Thomas Schell, who rescued him from the street and tutored him in subjects from English to chicanery. Disguised as a Hindu swami, Diego helps Schell conduct phony séances to bilk wealthy Long Islanders. But when Schell sees the apparition of a young girl during a séance and then hears of the disappearance of Charlotte Barnes, daughter of shipping magnate Harold Barnes, he determines to solve the case.
Evil Monkey: "No monkeys?" Jeff: "No evil monkeys.")