INTERVIEW: Peppy Ooze, Author of ‘Prose Home Movie’
Image provided by Peppy Ooze
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Recently, we reviewed Peppy Ooze’s Prose Home Movie, which we really enjoyed. It was a strange and wonderful experience that left a few questions burning in our mind. Luckily, Peppy was kind enough to answer some questions about his book, and provide some insight into the formation of some wonderful literature, among other things.
Firstly, how are you doing? Average thanks! But I’m feeling typey, like I wanna type loads I mean, and I’m feeling chatty. I’ve got my new book out, Prose Home Movie, a novel published on the small press: Dostoyevsky Wannabe. And I’m using this interview as a platform for people to buy the new novel. The most pompous thing I can say about it is it’s a one-man rag-and-bone Savage Detectives or it’s low-rent Knausgaard as I described it to another media outlet last week.
Why did you decide to write Prose Home Movie? Err, I didn’t like decide in one decision – if that’s what you mean. It built over time, with thousands of changes in shape and content. I lived with it for about 3 years. I read books telling me How-To-Write. Then I decided what would be the coolest book I could make. And I spent ages adding to it. Reducing it. Adding more. Reducing more. Thinking of one title, changing it for another. As the novel’s first line says: It’s a howl and a blag. To speak a shorthand: It’s bones. And I think my idea of the kind of novel I wanted to write changed over the time I was writing it.
What appealed to you the most about documenting a section of your life in a novel? It’s three sections of life -sorry- to sound a bit pedantic.
The book is made of three sections: two of which’re kind of autobiographical and one is set in 2016 which is fictional. The narratives are set out like a collage. Let’s pretentiously call it a David Shieldsian collage. But it does have a form. When it shifts in time I italicize the first three paragraphs. I think after about 50 pages the reader should pick up on how the novel is split into three sections, each set in different years and rooms and backdrops. Like in one I have a call-centre job. In another I’m a student. And in another I’m kind of scraping by. If after 50 pages the reader doesn’t catch onto the fact that italics mean a change in time then I guess it’s not the book for them. I got the idea from The Sound and Fury. But page-for-page it’s not as complex or as heavyweight as Faulkner, of course … of course-of course.
And cos it’s called Prose Home Movie, I erred from too much exposition. Oh yeah and the 2016 section is about Peppy O writing about his past – two sections of his life. One section is based on every concrete memory I have from 1994. Yes I’m old-ish. 1994 involved cool things like going to San Francisco with my mom, hitching to Glastonbury, moving to Manchester, plus not cool stuff like self-harm and my parents divorcing. And the other section (set in an unspecified time but kind of mid-2000s) is about every memory I have around when my dad died – from his illness to his funeral. I don’t mind spoilers cos the novel is more about style and voice and art than plot. This is all me rambling. I’m crap at summarising the novel actually. I feel too subjective about it. Sorry I didn’t answer the question.
Is the book completely factual? No, like for instance in January 2016 I didn’t wear a gorilla suit and go on my bike into a Manchester riot. There was no riot in Manchester in 2016. In 2011 there was a riot during which I walked into town with a friend. We had a mooch, saw people looting. But I didn’t wear a gorilla suit. Also in the novel there is a pogoing fox that tries catching hailstones in its mouth. The novel’s protagonist Peppy O sees it in the street. I’ve never seen a fox pogoing. Also the novel has a woman chanting a weird language in the street while a swarm of insects cover her body. I never saw a swarm of insects cover a chanting woman either. And there’s a book mentioned in the novel, Shakes Kollideoscapes by Carlos McCondo. Neither that book or the author exist. So there’s plenty of art and bullshit in the novel. In fact, it’s all fiction. Maybe the bones are factual but the jizz within, the novel’s blood and muscle, is fictional.
Sorry if I’m talking bollox but I enjoy talking bollox so anyone who clicks this page will either have to click off or bear with me.
Is there a message in the book that you hope readers will pick up on? Not a message no. But I reckon there are lots of things in there – film/music/book references that connect, little riffs, stolen things, subtle things, stupid things – stuff that people will pick up on. It’ll be tough to find a reader who’ll get all the references, which’re kind of signifiers. But they don’t have to get any of them I suppose. Maybe a message is that no matter how lonely you are in the city, there is someone lonelier and more alienated than you. Or maybe another message is: I like pop art. Pop art is good. And another message could be: I am a director of a zombie movie and my memory specialises in shit. And let us squeeze in a final: Desert is everywhere.
Desert is everywhere. I got that from Jean Baudrillard and he got it probably from Guy Debord with his spectacle thing.
Do you have any writing quirks or rituals? Nah… But I need coffee, tobacco, the radio on, earplugs, weed. I chain-smoke, which is bad. I get good brain-awakening gulps of air from pedalling the Manchester streets on my bike. Also, this is an exclusive to Cultured Vultures, I gave up sugar about 6 months ago. It stopped the migraines – touch wood. And I feel this is uncool to say this but it’s true: Currently I need this prescribed opiate drugs in order to flow creatively. I have mentioned in previous interviews the particular medication I take. And I have to say, with regards ritual, I reckon my best thoughts come when I’m in the kitchen, when I’m washing up.
Is writing a full-time job or just a hobby, and what about it appeals to you? A bit of both. I kind of scrape by doing very little work for very little money so I can sit in my room reading and thinking and writing and farting loudly, enjoying a slobbish but healthy lifestyle. I like solitude, sitting around reading, spending long amounts of time online and doodling. I’m a recluse. As you say in the review, I just enjoy writing. I get addicted to it like I get addicted to everything else. As long as I know the prose itself has got some kind of heartbeat, it feels good to do. To wank, to sleep, to dream etc. I’ve listened to the wisdom of UFOs who tell me to embrace my own insignificance.
Did you find it difficult to write about your own experiences? I think when I put anything on the page, it totally separates from the experience I write about. Cos I draw from memory I think the separation is so vast between reality and words that it immediately becomes fiction. I enjoy trying to put the flow of memory into a voice-driven style.
But back to your question: During the last few edits I got to a point where I thought: Oh no, I am in this room with my brother again! He has this thing where when he leaves his flat he’ll put sticky-tape between the door and the jambs – so he can see if anyone has been in his flat while he’s out. Those few sentences kind of got slightly boring after the sixth edit. And other parts were sometimes tough too. But I’m dogged and robust.
Where did you find inspiration for the style of writing? My framed photograph of Roxanne Gay. I gaze at it, her smile. I kiss it. Then I type in that style of writing. And there’s a whole list of the usuals, their voices, how they put the brain-voice kind of authentically on the page … like Joyce and Beckett and Bellow and Bolano and DeLillo and Carver and DFW and Tao Lin and Junot Diaz and a dozen others. I think I steal from almost every book I read. But I find it hard to read for a long time though, cos when I do it’s not long until I want to start writing. I just like adding energy and honesty to concrete images that sit in my averagely-educated brain. If I was gonna talk even more pretentiously I’d say I draw from as far as Finnegans Wake and as wide as Eat When You Feel Sad by the “avant-garde oddball American” writer Zachary German whose work had a subtle but volcanic effect on finding the inspiration for the style of writing of Prose Home Movie, Breaking Glass In Your Room Again, which you can but for just £7 on Amazon. Yeah. Also, talking about style: I really enjoy dipping between the King James Bible and Shakespeare – both are fierce and full of voice and different howling styles. I like writers inspired by those two: Bible, Shakes.
What (if anything) do you plan on writing in the future? I can’t really plan cos whatever I write will organically change over time. When I made Prose Home Movie I didn’t set out to write what I ended up with. I just kind of made it up as I went along. Despite that, I know the end product has unity. I’m a robot and the novel is a machine, a soul machine. It would be good to write about when I fell in love for the first time and then got addicted to an addiction and then my ma died and my first love dumped me. That was an unhinged period filled with stuff to flow with and howl and make more prose of bones, so to speak.