Sunday, March 8, 2015

Elisa Albert

Elisa Albert's new novel is After Birth.

From the author's interview with Vincent Scarpa at Electric Lit:

Vincent Scarpa: After Birth is an uproariously funny book, and I so admire the way the humor is doing double duty: we’re meant to laugh, of course, but also to consider the context within which Ari is saying or thinking these comical, often vicious things, and what’s being said in the margins, what isn’t being said instead. Did you have a clear sense when writing the novel that humor would function as a kind of defense or deflecting mechanism for Ari, your narrator? Did it develop in tandem with her voice? It reads seamlessly, yet I imagine a great deal of work went into fine-tuning the voice and figuring out what tonal parameters Ari was going to be operating within.

Elisa Albert: Ari was clear to me from the get-go. Her humor comes from an inability to be emotionally dishonest. This is a blessing and a curse. Being a bad liar is rough going. What we’re “supposed” to do/be/say/think and what we actually do/are/say/think often don’t line up, and generally speaking we lie our goddamn faces off about it, sometimes long and hard enough that we actually lose touch with ourselves. So it’s this huge relief, I think, when we come across someone who’s rigorously honest. Laughter is relief. We are ridiculous egotistical stubborn stingy hypocritical blind jackasses. It’s not human frailty that’s funny, mind you; it’s our predilection for pretense that’s funny.

But what’s even funnier is how we tend to punish honesty. People who say what they really think and feel, we usually try to make them out to be fools, or crazy. Once in a great while we relent and glorify them and treat them like gods and let them do the heavy philosophical lifting for us. But mostly, the truth is inconvenient, not to mention impolite. But at the same time we all kind of aspire to be honest and are jealous of people who can be honest. Which in itself is hilarious, because honest people are usually the most tortured! By us! Pure comedy. What a wacky species.

So yes, I think humor is about clinging—be it naked, battered, maligned—to honesty. Ari strikes me as the saddest kind of funny/tortured hybrid, though: the idealist. She genuinely can’t believe that everything is so...[read on]
Learn more about the author and her work at Elisa Albert's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Book of Dahlia.

--Marshal Zeringue