So we (royal We) notice you’ve (“you’ve”) been posting some random and nearly indecipherable stuff lately, under the various monikers of “Multimedia Narrative(s)” and Kingdom Come and “The Selected Psalms of Junie Temple.” It’s weird and unsettling. Suggestive of the need for any number of interventions. Should we be worried about you (“we” / “you”)?
Hi. Thanks for asking! No, no. This is merely art. What had happened was…I wrote a sequel to a novel that almost nobody read. And, not surprisingly, I have had a hard time finding somebody who wants to publish said follow-up to said obscure novel. Plus I have this (also obscure) “platform.” And I have long been interested in the possibility of multimedia/mixed-media forms (sadly, I have purged from the internet several other projects that I now wish I’d kept living/breathing/kicking; thus there is no evidence of my lo-fi/diy bona fides in this arena; alas…). And I’m a frustrated visual artist (as was my dear dad before me). Fail / fail better, as they say. I’m seeking another avenue for better failures.
You have a gift for obscurity, the “oblique,” and generally being evasive and cryptic. Why do you do that?
Great question! (I don’t know!)
Right. Moving on. Tell us more about this project.
Again, it’s a follow-up to my novel, John the Revelator, which traces the antics of a reluctant seer/prophet named (you guessed it) John. Somewhere in the wilds of a mythologized west-central Alabama. A much better novelist than me, Lucy Corin, described the book thusly:
‘John the Revelator’ is a romping bildungsroman for the contemporary South: a boy in search of sacred text among archetypes and icons-hustlers, good ole boys, visionary hermits, convenience stores and Yoko Ono, a little Tom Sawyer, a little late Barry Hannah, Oliver Twist via Quentin Tarantino.
Romping bildungsroman! Tarantino. Yoko. Dickens! The “contemporary South,” for goodness’ sake! (A salaam alaikum!) Fun times.
Anyway, the story kept asserting itself upon me, so I kept on keeping on. And it got even weirder, more fragmentary, more mystical, somewhat more audacious (if I do say so myself). And I kind of think that’s just hard for most readers to, like, access. “On the page,” or whatever. Sent it out, widely and variously, hopefully. And mostly crickets. It did get longlisted by the inimitable Dzanc Books! Which was encouraging. But, you know, horseshoes + hand grenades. No cigar. Plus I just got the sense that there was something bigger or different that the project needed to be. I guess I came to believe that all this challenge (rejection) was an opportunity in disguise.
We see. That actually makes a little more sense. This is pretty much your latest [ahem: failed] novel manuscript, presented haphazardly, in piecemeal form.
Uh. Sort of. My hopes for it are somewhat larger than that — in the sense that I have a hunch “novel” isn’t exactly the perfect form for the story I’m trying to tell. I’m hoping that the various flexibilities of the digital space will allow me to convey more layers, more tones, more and different sounds, texts, and images. So the novel-drafting stage was a fleshing out. It was a means of me inhabiting the story in a fuller (or more tangible) way. Prior to that, it lived — whole, if gestural/gestational — in the various layers of my consciousness. And this stage — serializing it here, using the aforementioned flexibilities — will let the story realize itself in a more three-dimensional (public, too, I suppose) way.
Oh. Okay. Ambitious. Maybe a little pretentious, too.
Maybe. But it’s energizing for me. And I still love this story, so I’m excited to live in it in this new way.
If you’re excited, we’re excited (“you” / “we”). Anything “you” want to add that will help someone get/keep their bearings at the outset here?
Sure. The stuff I’ve started out posting isn’t, actually, the “beginning” of the story. (Avant garde, man. That’s me.) Here’s the premise of this first installment (i.e., The Selected Psalms of Junie Temple): there’s this character, Junie Temple, who happens to be the progeny of the aforementioned John (the Revelator). After an assortment of traumas (shared and not; physical, metaphysical; criminal and/or transcendent), he is moved to write some fever-dream/speaking-in-tongues style prophetic poetry. These posting are, largely, not that poetry! They are the unattributed endnotes to this poetry, written in the voice of a scholar. Narrative context is embedded. But mostly it offers a sense of the chaos and creation born of this Junie’s uncommon mind, his atypical (yet somehow pre-ordained) path in this maddening, beautiful world. There’s no wrong answer in reading it. It’s more tone poem than anything. Meant to be felt more than (opposed to?) understood. Plus there’s pictures (and other stuff). Enjoy!
PS: I’ll be posting some more ancillary matter (a TOC, a dust-jacket, maybe a dramatis personae, etc) to help people “keep their bearings.” Stay tuned as “we” build this plane while it’s in the air. Your enduring attention is much-appreciated!