Ed Falco on Work That Works for Writers


One of the reasons I’m grateful for the existence of Unbridled Books is that it was this independent publishing company that introduced me to the writing of Ed Falco, starting with the short stories in Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha and up to his most recent novel, Saint John of the Five Boroughs. Back in November, Ed (and his niece, Edie Falco) did an illuminating interview with PopMatters: “We’re a working class family,” Ed said, “and to have two of us in the arts, and Edie succeeding as famously as she has, and I’m doing OK in my career, it’s nice, it’s fun.” This essay touches upon that point in a roundabout fashion, as Ed looks back at how he worked his way through to finding a job that truly supported his literary pursuits.

As the director of the creative writing program at Virginia Tech, I was recently in an administrative staff meeting convened to review the metrics by which the university measures our department’s performance; and while somebody was talking about something or other, I found myself looking around the room and wondering how I wound up there.

Throughout my twenties I imagined myself as a writer and a poet living on the fringes of mainstream culture. Okay, yes, I had a middle-class family who would always take me in when things got too bad, but, still, I spent most of my twenties going back and forth between working as a laborer and being unemployed, a period of time that included a year traveling throughout Europe and a three- or four-year stint working on horse farms and racetracks. I never made much money, I never had much money, and that was fine with me. I wanted to be a writer. I cared about art and injustice, and I believed that art could address injustice and make a difference. Over time my beliefs have shifted (shifted, not changed), but they haven’t shifted so far that I’ve come to sincerely care about departmental performance metrics. So how did I wind up there? When I asked a friend, a colleague of twenty-five years, he said: “You got old.”


27 December 2009 | guest authors |

As Predicted, Here’s Robert Anton Wilson

Not in the New York Times, as I had hoped, but this interview in Santa Cruz’s alternative weekly, Metroactive, is a good look at the twilight years of “the most ripped-off artist of our time,” who blazed the trail for everything from The Da Vinci Code to What the Bleep Do We Know? His email correspondents include LSD inventor Albert Hoffman: “”He’s a fan of my books, and I’m a fan of his drugs.”

I picked that link up from a site which also gave me a pointer towards Wilson’s answers to 23 more questions; the same article reports that the old trickster’s got at least one more book left in him, as Email to the Universe is…well, it’s probably a bit optimistic to say that it’ll be showing up in your local bookstore, unless there’s some really hip people running it or it also sells magickal paraphenalia on the side.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: if you really want a novel to blow your mind and make you question two millennia worth of received history, pick up Wilson’s Masks of the Illuminati. It’s been nearly twenty years since I first discovered a copy in my public library, and I’m still waking up with the shivers some nights.

21 August 2005 | interviews, uncategorized |

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