Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

One and a Half Men: The King of Awkward (An Interview with Nathaniel G. Moore)

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One and a Half Men: The King of Awkward (An Interview with Nathaniel G. Moore)

Nathaniel G. Moore is an enigma to many. Including me, though I’ve known him since 1999. From evidence I have been stealthily gathering over the past decade-and-a-half, here are the three main conclusions I have drawn about him:

1) He is a bit wacky.

Nathaniel takes social awkwardness to the next level. One time, he paused in the middle of an onstage tirade at the launch for his poetry collection Let’s Pretend We Never Met, and announced into the mic, “Hello, Jessica! Jessica Westhead has just arrived late, everyone!” He has tried various public personas on for size over the years, a number of them brash and even a little bristly. His often “out-there” behaviour is a unique combination of unnerving and endearing. For example, as a finalist at a recent Toronto Literary Death Match, he showed up wearing shorts, socks pulled up to his knees, and a Shania Twain T-shirt, and with thrilling, over-the-top showmanship performed a bizarre-but-killer piece about a scaly, horny woman trapped by her lover in a fish tank.

2) He is a great writer.

When I read Nathaniel’s writing, my brain explodes (in the best possible way). He has a thoroughly twisted view of the world that he expresses with sly humour, punchy imagery, and stunning similes. The Globe and Mail totally gets his distinctive and ingenious literary style. In a glowing review of Moore’s most recent novel, Wrong Bar, Edward Brown wrote: “Prepare to be hurled at breakneck speed through the brilliantly imaginative mind of one of this country’s small-press marvels.”

3) He is a good person.

Nathaniel is a generous and tireless supporter of his fellow writers. He writes articles about them. He attends their readings and launches, and helps to promote those readings and launches. He curates and publishes anthologies (Desire, Doom & Vice: A Canadian Collection, Toronto Noir) and invents weird and wonderful projects featuring other writers’ work. And in 1999, the first time I attended a Taddle Creek launch, all by myself when I hardly knew anyone there, Nathaniel saw that I was standing around looking lonely and out-of-place, and he pulled out a chair at his table and said, “You can sit with us.”

But I wanted to find out more, so I asked Nathaniel some questions…

JW: Hello, Nathaniel! Who are some of your writing influences?

NGM: Mark Leyner. Lynn Crosbie. Claudia Dey. Tony Burgess. Rick Moody, Margaret Atwood. Ali Smith. Lynn Coady. Ibi Kaslik, David McGimpsey, Lisa Moore. Emily Schultz. Lisa Foad. Kathy Acker and you! But mainly: Jean Genet, Oscar Wilde and Anne Carson.

JW: Describe an average day in the life of Nathaniel G. Moore.

NGM: Well that all depends. But usually I write a bunch of articles or research them. Then I usually try to find people to hang out with and eat food. I like to cook food but live alone (or I live with people with whom I never speak or cook with and avoid at all costs). I do a lot of walking and talking to my growing list of fantasy friends and reality-based friends and clients.

JW: Okay, but who are you, really?

NGM: It’s hard because right now things are changing so much in my life I can’t even understand who I ever was. I have put tremendous pressure on myself this year and want to do new things and open up new portals. I may have some sort of legacy or notoriety to a small gaggle of people in this one-horse town, but you know, I don’t really think about who I am or those sorts of things. I am like a shark—I can’t stop swimming or else I’ll drown. As Vince McMahon once remarked (not about me, but life in general), there are only so many hours in the day. But quite simply? I am a man trapped in a man’s body. I don’t really think about who I am. That is something that doesn’t belong to me, that concept, it’s subjective I think, it’s a perception I have no relationship with. Maybe it’s self-denial? The denial of myself. I am not sure. I don’t really have a self-assessment. I have a blog, though.

JW: You always seem to have multiple neat things on the go. Would you fill us in on some of your current and/or upcoming ventures?

NGM: Well things are quite marvelous right now. I’m working on a book with two women from Calgary about their amazing lives. I am writing the afterforward and helping them shape the book, which we hope to have ready quite soon for the publisher. If you know who I write about from Calgary via the Globe, you know who I’m speaking of, or at least, what family I’m speaking of. And this project is organically and spiritually linked to my epic novel that I hope to sell in 2012 called The Last Savage, which is about a family struggling with its new identity and trying to forget its previous identity, which is hard because they keep talking to each other. And that sci-fi-porn thing I read at Literary Death Match is actually the end of a novella (I’ve never written a short book before, I don’t think) called The Chelsea Papers, which I’m hoping to hear back about soon from a great publisher in British Columbia. The book is Jennifer’s Body meets Piranha. Those are both films but I’m sure there are some literary influences there.

JW: You recently wrote a hilarious riff on The Lonely Island’s “I’m On A Boat”, about the Toronto literary scene (“I Wrote A Book”). It made me laugh really hard. Could we please reprint that here?

NGM: Sure. (Here it is!) Many have requested it become a film. Evan Munday and I would totally star in it, I think Grace and Evan and I discussed this over email. I think it’d be fun to make, about the hilarity and self-obsessed nonsense that is being a Toronto writer, yo.

JW: Thanks, Nathaniel!

NGM: Thanks for the interview, Jessica, the pleasure the privilege is mine.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Jessica Westhead

Jessica Westhead's short stories have appeared in major literary journals in Canada and the United States. "Unique and Life-Changing Items," which appears in And Also Sharks, was shortlisted for the 2009 CBC Literary Awards. Her first novel, Pulpy & Midge, was nominated for the ReLit Award. Westhead lives in Toronto.

Go to Jessica Westhead’s Author Page