“Every time I hear classical music in elevators, I think someone is going to be murdered.” This was a text I received from EH earlier this week. I laughed because it is preposterous, funny, and I am immune to violence thanks to the media.
A few years back, I went to AWP in Denver. Etgar Keret was the opening reader for George Saunders. I remember EK standing up there, obviously nervous, explaining that this was one of the first times he would be reading his work in English to such a large audience. Because I’m a jerk, I kept thinking, get on with it already. I want to hear GS.
Once EK started, I didn’t want him to stop. His stories fall into that dark humor category of Dennis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son . You feel uncomfortable laughing, but you can’t help it, like getting a case of the giggles at a funeral.
I bought The Nimrod Flip Out after his reading and forgot I had it. Later, I bought and read his latest story collection, Suddenly, A Knock At The Door. Once again, EK’s mind amazed me. The things he comes up with and the places he takes a reader are more than unexpected—they’re unimaginable. They are like getting a text message, apropos of nothing, that makes one laugh.
And laugh. And laugh. And then, grow silent. Oh.
Wow. That’s messed up.
For instance, in the title story, “The Nimrod Flip Out,” three friends (Uzi, Miron, & Ron) felt haunted by their dead friend Nimrod, so they have a séance. They create a makeshift Ouija board using construction paper for the board and a glass as the pointer. Later, when Uzi gets married, he stomps on a glass and calls out, “Mazel Tov.” He then freaks out Miron for the rest of the night by telling him it was the same glass they used for Nimrod’s séance. What really got me, or the “Oh” part of the story, was how Nimrod got his name—I’m not going to say how here because that would give too much of the story away—but I believe EK is making a statement about how Nimrod dies.
I’m pairing The Nimrod Flip Out with Daniel Campbell’s work this week because just as EK’s stories are disguised as jokes, but really address themes such as violence in the world, infidelity, mental sanity, and parenthood—DC’s art is disguised as a toy, but actually addresses characterization and imagination.
As one can tell from the pictures, DC works in the medium of the Munny. What’s a Munny? Technically, it’s a toy for children. Munnys are white figures that one can glue bits of glitter and sequence to or paint or color.
In an effort to open up more dialogues with other artists, I wrote to DC, and asked him a slew of questions for this post:
Me: What are you reading?
DC: Cloud Atlas, but my childhood favorite is Watership Down.
Me: You write children’s fiction, correct?
DC: I write Picture Books, Middle-Grade, and YA Fantasy. While my work varies quite a bit
between genres, I find that the theme of “Home” and finding your place in the world rings true in each story.
Me: Do your Munnys ever correspond to what you write?
DC: While my Munny art doesn’t usually share a space with my writing, I’m thinking a crossover project would be fun. I have translated several illustrations into Munnys before.
Me: The book has a short story titled, “Actually, I’ve Had Some Phenomenal Hard-Ons Lately.” Are you okay with your work being paired with it?
DC: Yup, that’s fine.
Good thing DC doesn’t mind odd titles. There are over thirty stories in this one hundred and sixty-seven page book. Here is a sampling: “Fatso,” “For Only 9.99 (Inc. Tax and Postage),” “My Girlfriend’s Naked,” “The Tits On An Eighteen-Year-Old,” “Bwoken,” and “Iornclad Rules.”
What can I say to summarize my experience with this book like this? Have you ever seen a dead animal, gutted, on the side of the road? The type of road kill that everyone stares at but no one does a thing about? I felt like that dead animal after I read, The Nimrod Flipout.
And why would I read EK if after each story I felt as if I were rammed by a semi going eighty miles per hour and now my guts were strewn all over the pavement?
Because I laughed right up until the point I was slain.
And if you ask me, there are worse ways to die. Like being murdered in an elevator while classical music plays in the background.
*Daniel Campbell’s work will be featured at three upcoming shows: Vinyl Thoughts 3, at Life
in Deep Ellum, 2803 Taylor Street Dallas, Texas, September 13th. Vinyl Thoughts 3 focuses on the art of animation and illustration throughout the decades and translated into vinyl. Website: www.vinylthoughtsartshow.com
A Month of Munnys at Blick Art Materials, 2389 Fairview Avenue, Roseville, MN, September 20th, from 3-7PM. A Month of Munnys is Blick’s first vinyl art show. Daniel will be teaching a workshop on Munny Design from 3-6pm. Website: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blick-Art-Materials-Roseville/139423023769
Under the Net at Homewood Studios, October 10th-20th. This event is meant to help generate awareness and raise money for Imagine No Malaria, a charity working to end malaria in Africa. Website: www.homewoodstudios.com