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When Interviewing Characters  PICTURE OF THE AUTHOR AS CHARACTERS

After reading excerpts from
Felipe Alfau’s Locos in The Barcelona Review


by Roger Aplon

       

      

       I’m usually early. No one ever arrives before noon. I’ll have a coffee & cognac & wait patiently for what I know will be a long & deceitful trial. I’ve done this many times & must keep my mind clear & instincts keen. They are devious & must be tended with care & suspicion.
       
      Have you ever walked away in mid-sentence? I will ask.
       
No! she says, but don’t be fooled. Even the best will take a wrong turn & leave you for a quick kiss around the back just when you’d like them to speak directly to their father or mother or lover or maybe confess to a murder or an affair or tell of the time they beat their child or dreamt of sucking their brother’s cock . . . or just tell the simple story of Uncle Thomas & Aunt Thelma who ran away to Australia & discovered gold & set sail around the world when, just off the coast of Burma, pirates . . .
       
      Is there any place you will not go?
       
No! they say, but some are afraid of water or heights or a walk in the dark & refuse to cross a room without a nurse or their great-aunt Henrietta who left them the property in Louisiana & wants to move in & bring her thirteen cats & her ‘house-boy’ Armando who will play tennis & swims naked in the pool & will show them how to pick a lock or jump-start a car & will bring his friend Sofia to clean & cook with saffron & mace & tamarind & ginger . . .

      Will you be willing to remove all your clothes?
       
In Europe, I usually trust, Yes! But in the U S there are so many who are afraid of their naked bodies . . . No! . . . never trust an American to get naked too quickly unless it’s in the dark or with the one they’ve picked for the night or if they’re very drunk or stoned or there’s enough money on the table or a fire in the attic & the dog is trapped & the only chance for escape requires a nimble feat of tumbling over the roof with the dog & a bible & a camera crew from ‘The Church of Latter-day Saints’ standing by to record for posterity this act of bravery & Mom is not & . . .
 
       Do you consider yourself ‘prejudiced’?
 
& most will try to hide the truth but the whites will sometimes admit blacks are getting all the work & the blacks will find whites are limiting their advancement & women will accuse men of banding together to keep them back & men will insist women are frigid & only interested in money & power & before I’m through there is usually a fight & someone will be hurt badly enough to need an ambulance & the press will come & TV & there will be police & tear gas & dogs & someone will call the militia & more will be hurt & there will be water-canons & mace & when the bullets begin to fly (as they did last year in Peoria) I’m forced to find shelter & leave the rest to their own volition & swear I will eliminate this question from my litany but then comes the next season & . . .

      Will you have sexual encounters?
 
Sure! they say & then I wonder what kind but expect the suggestion of anal sex or oral sex or blood & probes & whips to skew the mix & I know I must be careful & selective & check for venereal disease & be sure the lighting is right & get the proper angle & don’t use animals & keep the queers apart & mix race only if both are beautiful & try not to expose too much hair on the dainty ones or pimples or scars or stretch-marks or his dangling foreskin & ...
 
      Will you always tell the truth?
 
I’ve never known one to say, No! but none can be trusted & when they do say, Yes! they contrive the best deceptions . . . for instance: I once asked, ‘who killed your mother?’ & he said, ‘I have!’ but qualified that by saying, at least he thought he had because it had begun with him or his sister or their father but finally came down to him & an afternoon in May when he returned home early with his girlfriend Denise & found his mother in bed with her gardener & a bottle of expensive gin & although they watched from the side door for quite a while & never said a word he was sure he’d started the ball rolling just by knowing & looking accusingly at her from time to time & even when she divorced & left town he still imagined he was the cause of the wreck in Oklahoma which took her . . .
 
Do you have limits?
 
Yes! The smart ones always admit theirs. It’s the weak & interesting ones who I want to confess but it’s usually too late . . . by that I mean they’ll enter one door carrying their albums & identity cards & try to switch with the others & become confused & anonymous & not very reliable but will tell a story full of guilt & recrimination & intrigue & sort out pictures from the library which show in graphic detail the mutilations of victims of labored & sadistic murders & concentration camps & famine & . . .

______

& I will usually close my interviews with my notebook full & rush to my house where I will sweat for days & ruminate & question & become totally confused & when the time comes to finally begin I will toss them all in the middle of the floor & drive a stake into the pile & lead with the first to emerge . . . startled & bruised but otherwise unscathed.
 

1999  Roger Aplon                                          

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Author bio:

Roger Aplon
Roger Aplon is an American poet, presently living in Barcelona. He has published various books of poetry, most recently It's Mother's Day (Barracuda Press, 1996). His poems and articles have appeared in many national and international journals. He is presently at work on a collection of prose-poems and poems entitled Barcelona Diary. You may visit his web page at: http://members.tripod.com/~aplon/
e-mail: RAplon@compuserve.com
       

navigation:                                          barcelona review #13   mid-june to mid-august 1999
-Fiction Murder by G.K. Wuori
Madness by G.K. Wuori
Slide Show by Matt Marinovich
Here Swims a Most Majestic Vision by Jason DeBoer
My Father...The Train by Donna Lee
When Interviewing Characters by Roger Aplon
-Poetry Steve Aylett
-Essay

Grooves, Camouflage, and the Conspiracy of Whiteness
by Barbara F. Lefcowitz

-Interview Magnus Mills
-Regular Features Book Reviews
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