introducing readers to writers since 1995

June 29, 2005

Author2Author: Bruce Bauman & Joy Nicholson, pt. 1

by Ron Hogan

Last month, Joy Nicholson recommended Bruce Bauman's And the Word Was to readers of this blog. Bauman got in touch with her afterwards, they got on famously, and, well, here they are talking not just about his book but her new novel, The Road to Esmeralda. (As for that initial recommendation, Joy's clearly onto something; Susan Henderson recently dropped in on MoorishGirl's blog to deliver similar praise.)

baumanb.jpgBruce Bauman: Did you know the ending of The Road To Esmeralda when you started? Because I see similarities in how both your books end with the deaths of certain characters, the horrible position of the main character in each book who is left alive, and of one character, each of whom is, in my mind, fairly evil--though one has more complexity than the other--who escapes rather unscathed despite their horrendous behavior.

nicholson.jpgJoy Nicholson: I'm not sure if it's a curse or a blessing to be alive? We take it for granted that 'living' is a must--worthy of fighting for with every last drop of anguish--but we don't know if that's a true statement, or just a statement based on wishful thinking or even commercial greed. Life is attachment, and suffering--as well as moments of joy. For instance, Jim, the brother in The Tribes of Palos Verdes: What else should he have done except kill himself? His psyche had been battered, possibly beyond repair, by the woman who could have protected him--and his life would have been one long bout of pain (some would say 'learning') afterward. Phil, the father in Tribes, escapes unscathed and relatively unpained--but how much will his life change? Not much, I'd suspect. His life will be an eternal earthly hell--chasing after women, fame, material objects--never satisfied, always looking for the 'next validation.'

In Esmeralda, Sarah's curse of feeling the world's pain and inequity will die with her; horribly, perhaps, but at least it will be over. Nick's fatal passivity will live on with him--and his, when it comes, will be the death of ten thousand mental cuts. Nick will have a long time to reflect--and unlike Phil, he won't have alcohol and sexual distractions to get him through. And Medina is alive at the end of Tribes, yes, but what has she learned? To persist? Does that really matter?

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