Friday, February 10, 2006


Doug Lain has a major short story collection, Last Week's Apocalypse, out from Night Shade Press this month. I've read some of his work in various magazines like Third Alternative and been impressed. He's an original voice with a lot of promise--and the book is getting a lot of excellent press so far. I haven't yet received a copy of the book from Night Shade, so I'll wait to actually review the book until later. Here's what Jonathan Lethem had to say about it:

"Doug Lain has a huge brain. I am highly impressed with his prospects to be a completely uncommercial genius. God help him."

In the meantime, Doug has been kind enough to subject himself to the five (seven in this case) questions.


Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
My book is not a major motion picture, isn't based on a video game, will not transport the reader to a world or universe of wonder, and does not contain suppressed information about Christianity, the Illuminati, or Captain Kangaroo. There are no diet tips, color photographs, or bits of celebrity gossip. Also, I am not a television personality, porn star, supermodel, radio jockey, war criminal, nor will I ever be any of these things. My book is simply that. A book. Full of interesting and odd stories. Also it has a cover illustration by punk
rocker/artist Gee Vaucher.

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
Society can not be redeemed by something as slight as a book. Still I do attempt to be socially engaged when I write and there is a polemic that runs through my stories. Here it is:

"We have to change almost everything because keeping things as they are would be an act of suicide."

That's not too complicated a polemic really so I have a lot of room to write about other things like Rubik's cubes and time travel.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
My goal is to drive readers crazy, so crazy that they can't live with things as they are. It's an absurd goal really. After all, I go to work every morning, take my medicine (caffeine and alcohol mostly), and generally behave myself. But this is my goal despite everything. Overall my fiction is a placebo, but there is such a thing as a placebo effect.

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?
I have a nine year old son and I happen to know that my stories bore him. If he ever came across "Last Week's Apocalypse" in the library he'd surely put it down before he got to the dirty bits. Kids a little older, maybe 14 on up, might actually like the stories, although none of them would catch all the references to Devo.

If your book were a politician, what kind would it be?
A dead one. I'd like it to be a politician like Warren Beatty's character in the film "Bulworth", that is a politician in the throes of a nervous breakdown. A politician who has lost it so completely that he's willing to speak honestly about what he knows. But it would probably end up dead that way.

Why are you afraid of giant rabbits?
I am afraid of giant rabbits because, despite their apparent docility, these creatures are tricky. Giant rabbits tend to give the kind of advice or make the kinds of comments that, while often sound or even wise, cause trouble. Also they can eat a lot of vegetables. A lot of vegetables.

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?
Nothing would change very much except that I'd go back to taping my stories to telephone poles like I sed to in the early nineties. Back then I used to imagine people walking along and reading the stories in or out of sequence. Sometimes I imagined a person might follow the pages all over the city of Portland, stopping to read every few blocks. My ideal reader kept a watchful eye out for pages torn from legal pads and taped to trees, signs, buildings, and telephone poles.