I always wanted to be a juvenile delinquent, but my parents wouldn’t let me.
Chatting with James Sallis About the Republication of Death Will Have Your Eyes
- The Reading Room: How does it feel to have the novel back out in the public eye (with a striking new cover!) for a generation of readers who perhaps missed it the first time?
- James Sallis: Well, considering that almost everyone seems to have missed it the first time, it feels great. Tremendous. The book’s had a tiny group of ardent fans over the years, was even optioned for some time, but it more or less remained among the good dishes you don’t bring out often.
- RR: Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a particular routine – things that you prefer to have in place – or is it more of a free for all? And has it changed over the years?
- Sallis: The thing I have “to have in place” is butt in chair, and that’s definitely become more difficult over the years. No more three- and four-hour writing jags; I can’t sit for more than forty minutes or so before I’m up, wandering about the house, reaching for a mandolin or guitar. There’s a lot more wandering about in the story itself, too: rummaging, poking it with sticks, seeing what comes to the top.
- RR: What needs to happen on page one of a novel to make for a successful book that urges you to read on?
- Sallis: The writer must lean close to me and whisper “I have something important to tell you.”
Depression presents itself as a realism regarding the rottenness of the world in general and the rottenness of your life in particular. But the realism is merely a mask for depression’s actual essence, which is an overwhelming estrangement from humanity. The more persuaded you are of your unique access to the rottenness, the more afraid you become of engaging with the world; and the less you engage with the world, the more perfidiously happy-faced the rest of humanity seems for continuing to engage with it.
*I’m Technology Review’s fiction editor for their annual science fiction issue. And check out my list of contributors.
The AI does not love you, nor does it hate you, but you are made out of atoms it might find useful for something else.