Ofelia Hunt is the author of My Eventual Bloodless Coup (Bear Parade). She lives in Portland, Oregon. This is her first novel.
"This book would like to give you an ice cream, but you will have to get in the van."
"The ironic is a mere ancient whisper in this torqued narrative: its odd violence feels true. Today & Tomorrow crashes through the windows of strip malls and paints the hypertrophic aisles with bristly-creepy hilarity."
"Ofelia Hunt is the balladeer of the doe-eyed detrivores of over-stimulation. Within Today & Tomorrow, readers find the fried and the frayed nerves in the youth of the Hyperworld. All will be well, America, as long as the rims keep spinning and Hunt keeps writing."
Thanks everybody for your thoughtful discussion about violence! As we continue to dig into Today & Tomorrow and start to meet some of the novel’s key players — Erik/Todd the Wal-Mart cashier, Aaron the eerie new guy, Merna, the memory of Anastasia — I’d like to call to your attention a couple new interviews with Ofelia that’ve gone up in the last couple days.
Over at the literary magazine Monkeybicycle, J. A. Tyler talks to Ofelia about Bill Murray, violence, and coming of age. Here’s something interesting Ofelia says about the novel’s relationship to growing up:
I was 28 years old when I started T&T, and I’m now 32 years old. I might be regressing. I graduated from college four years late. And there’s something odd about approaching and entering your 30s. When my mother was 30 she had three children, was immersed in the work/eat/sleep routine. The language of violence is interesting and it surrounds us (television, movies, newspapers). “I want to stab that mofo in the face,” is funny. I remember a former coworker saying that about a demanding customer, while miming a stabbing motion. Also, as I wrote and edited T&T I remember being very concerned/interested in the separation of body and thought, the separation of any body part from any other, and the compartmentalization of the mind. Violence, real and imagined, seemed one way to write about this. Bodies are so mechanical. Parts fail and are replaced. I like to run long trail races occasionally and the racers become very focused on ‘refueling’ and ‘stride mechanics’ and the possible failure of their parts (a foot, a tendon, the iliotibial band). Perhaps ‘coming of age’ is a step toward subjective understanding of one’s own body, and move toward greater mental compartmentalization. One learns to become many people as needed, for work, friends, lovers, partners, the internet, to subsume/suppress the parts that do and don’t fit current roles.
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Then, over at the lit blog We Who Are About to Die, Noah Cicero talks to Ofelia about influences, the process of writing, concrete truth, and consumerism:
NC: Do you believe that consumerist culture makes people into non-humans? I get that from the book, everyone is turned into a non-human, they have been turned into something, what, no one can really say, but the primitive instincts are gone from the humans in your book?
OH: Consumerist culture makes me feel robotic and alien. I have trouble existing in large masses of people, at shopping malls, Wal-Mart, Target — I become nervous, awkward, clumsy. Television commercials make me bitter and sarcastic. I feel weird when media outlets discuss professional athletes, actresses, and politicians as ‘commodities.’ I find it strange that the polite language for couples to refer to one another is ‘my partner.’ Our day to day language is overrun by business metaphors. ‘Business’ is the standard for excellence in most of American life. Speed and efficiency or something. Lack of waste or excess (not that ‘business’ generally lives up to these standards). I sometimes feel like people often rely on objects outside of themselves to accomplish goals, and are never deterred when those objects don’t perform as expected. I have nightmares of broken toys from my early childhood, how I felt when the toys disappointed me.
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Both these interviews are very insightful, and I suggest checking both of them out in full. Meanwhile, what do you think of Ofelia’s answers? Do we become more compartmentalized as we age? Do television commercials make you feel sarcastic? Do you find your everyday language overrun by business metaphors? Do you have nightmares of broken toys from your early childhood?