Friday, 29 March 2013

Getting Lost With Clive Scully: Part II

CLIVE SCULLY is a journalist with lady fingers, but he's a good guy.  He has sat down with me over the last few weekends to poke holes in my inferiority/delusional narcissism complex and get to grips with writing, fears and why all I want to do it get lost.

CS: How’s your week been?  You get much done with Lost Angeles?
[Dave pours the drinks]
DL: Nothing man, less than nothing.
CS: That’s poor form Dave.
DL: I hear you, we ran out of oil and I had to take my pug to the vet.
CS: And that stopped you from doing anything with the book?
DL: No mum.
CS: So, the last time we were talking you got into some stuff about artistic guilt and it got me thinking.  Why didn’t you write under a pseudonym?
DL: Because I’m a stone cold narcissist.
[Clive laughs]
CS: I don’t see that.
DL: Shit, I didn’t see it either but here I am wanting to see my name on a god-damn Amazon page.
CS: So you’re a narcissist who’s ashamed of his craft?
DL: Complicated ain’t I?
CS: That’s one word.  I read your book.
DL: Oh yeah?  Do me a favour, don’t give me your opinion on it.
CS: Why’s that?
DL: Good or bad it doesn’t matter.  Good and I’m not going to believe it, bad and I’m going to want to beat you over the head with this bottle.
[Clive laughs]
CS: There’s no need for the bottle.  One of the things that struck me about the book was layers.  There are moments throughout in the present that echo the past, moments in the present that will be replicated at some point in the future.  In large sections it felt like a dream, like maybe the narrator is less than objective…less than reliable.
DL: Right.
CS: Was that intentional?  Where’d that come from?
DL: It wasn’t the first time it happened, then it was.
CS: Fascinating answer.
[Dave laughs]
DL: Yeah, wise ass.  Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey did it better than anything I’ve seen in years.  I wanted the narrative to fold over itself the longer it unravelled so you got to the point where you didn’t know up from a hole in the ground.  I wanted you to feel the uncertainty Doug felt, I’m glad you got that.
CS: It’s kind of picaresque.
DL: Yeah, kind of.  I mean it has an overarching narrative but the confessional feel I was telling you about is what’s given it that.
CS: A lot of the male characters are unlikeable.
DL: A lot of males are like that.
CS: So that is intentional.
DL: Men are assholes and women are crazy.  When you’re speaking in generalities these statements can be true but it’s when you boil it down to the individual and motives that you really start getting to grips with the narrative.
CS: Yeah, because for the most part Doug Morgan isn’t a “good” guy.
DL: Who is?  He’s a lot of faults, we all do.  He’s really fucked up and it’s not entirely his fault and it’s not entirely new damage.  There are things that come through childhood and genetics that we can’t factor for.  He’s an alcoholic…
CS: Speaking of which would you like another drink?
[Clive pours the drinks]
DL: Thank you.  So what was I saying?
CS: He’s an alcoholic.
DL: Yes.  He’s an alcoholic, he’s most certainly mentally unstable and he dangerous, not just to himself but to those surrounding him but what makes him likeable is that he’s blind.  He doesn’t mean to be dangerous or cause damage, he’s hurting and he doesn’t see how bad it’s got.  He’s a guy struggling to hold himself together so he can fall apart on his own terms.  We’ve all done it, and I think that’s what makes him relatable above all the other shit.
CS: Now you see when you put it like that you make me want to read it again. 
DL: Any chance of you buying a copy this time?
[Clive laughs]
CS: Tell you what, you get that book into the store you were talking about and I’ll buy one.
DL: You’re a stand-up guy Clive.
CS: You’re influenced by guys like Bukowski, and Fante…
DL: And Thompson too…recently.
CS: Hunter?
DL: Well yeah sure, but I was meaning Jim.  Have you read Bad Boy?
CS: No.
DL: Do it.
CS: Ok.
DL: I can lend it to you.
CS: No I think I’ll buy this one.
DL: Fucker.
CS: So you’re influenced by guys like Bukowski and those lot, but where’s it come from?
DL: My old man was a musician, he played banjo.  He was a deadbeat but he could play.  I think my mum was artistic too but she had kids and worked her ass off bringing us up so it kinda got drained out of her but she always encouraged us kids to write, and draw.
CS: What does she make of Lost Angeles?
DL: She hasn’t read it.
CS: No?  Why, are you making her buy it too?
[Dave laughs]
[Clive pours the drinks]
DL: No.  She doesn’t know about it.  It’s not a artistic guilt thing, it’s a “there’s too much fingering and drugs in it” thing.  I don’t think we’re ready for that conversation.
CS: What age are you?
DL: Thirty-one and a half, but it’s the half that makes all the difference.

To read Part I click [here]