Interview with Eric Beeny
by Justin Grimbol
Beeny’s writing is simple, elegant and filled with great dialogue. While I was reading it I felt like I was watching a play. Not only could I visualize the characters, I felt like I was in the same room as them. It reminded me of Steinbeck’s short novels, like The Pearl and Of Mice and Men. But this book is way more grimy than anything Steinbeck ever wrote.
The book is about a Leper and a Mannequin who fall in love. Their relationship is very problematic. In this world, Lepers hunt mannequins and harvest their body parts. The situation is kinda tense. The Lepers and the mannequins hate each other. Still, the two lovers are determined to be together.
This book is unsettling, but in a fun way. There’s this one sex scene that had me feeling weird. Leper/Mannequin sex is just as complicated as you would imagine.
I loved this book. It’s clever. At one point I had to call up my buddy Gorcoff and tell him about the origins of the Mannequins. “That’s fucking really clever,” he said. “It’s like something you would see on the twilight zone.”
I can’t tell YOU what the origin is though. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Surprises are fun. This book is fun. Go on now, go. Go get this book.
Here’s an interview with the author, Eric Beeny.
Justin Grimbol: You have also published poetry. What do you prefer to write, prose or poetry?
Eric Beeny: I like writing both. Within both are aspects of the other, and, though they both conform to certain formal aesthetics/restraints (should a writer choose to adhere to them), they’re both ultimately trying to express the same thing: Desire for something, a lack. Twain: “The secret source of Humor itself is not joy but sorrow.” Lepers… is a mock novel, using narrative/plot to have fun making fun of narrative/plot and story-telling conventions (not, like, gatherings of people who write fiction, or gatherings of fictional people…). The book is really just a serious joke.
JG: Have you shown this book to anyone that works in a clothing store like the Gap or Sears? I’m sure this book would really fuck with their heads.
EB: No, I haven’t. I’d like to take a store mannequin to a taxidermist who can stuff it, then mount the furry effigy over the front door of the Gap or Sears. I would throw milkshakes at it, and the milkshakes would drip off the fur onto people leaving. I haven’t had a milkshake in forever. I want a milkshake. I’d imagine Gap and Sears employees drink milkshakes all the time, take cellphone pics with their friends posing with store mannequins after closing, all the mall lights out, stripping and putting their clothes on their favorite mannequin, putting a milkshake straw to the mannequin’s mouth screaming “Drink,” and when the mannequin refuses to sip their friends film a cellphone movie of them beating the mannequin to death, kicking it in the head, tearing the limbs from its sockets, throwing milkshakes at the mannequin’s bald head, tearing the bald head off and hurling the bald head through the floor-to-ceiling storefront window. I don’t want a milkshake anymore.
JG: I found some of the mannequins to be kinda sexy. Were they intended to be sexy or am I just kind of a perv?
EB: Yeah, no, you’re definitely a perv—I wrote the book to expose all you weirdos… No, you’re completely normal. To me, the mannequins in the book are only sarcastically sexy. I wanted to sarcastically arouse, or to arouse sarcasm itself—fondle its great big oxymoron. I like sarcasm: Any red-blooded American male who isn’t sexually attracted to female mannequins—nippleless, inanimate, hollow, human-shaped hunks of plastic meant to represent the apparent apex of women’s socio-political progress in America, the symbol of the American male’s perspective on this progress and how the American male believes himself superior to women and so allows them as few social, political and economic advancement opportunities as patriarchically possible by conditioning them via all media outlets that they themselves, and in fact all other women, are emotionally hollow, culturally barren, socially inanimate, politically plastic, that they exist only to satiate male sexual desire, to serve men—ought to be ideologically reconditioned by his father to be a proper, traditional American male who knows how to treat women.
JG: During the book you occasionally switched from a third person to first person. Why did you do this? What effect were you going for?
EB: The main character, Jaundice, the female mannequin, is struggling with identity. She refers to herself in third person to distance and detach herself from her emotions, from her identity—the history and potential future of that identity. She’s the result/representation of not only the male perception but imposition and reinforcement of female beauty and supposed weakness and all the unconscious yet ubiquitously held beliefs of the American male mentioned above. Jaundice is afraid to reveal herself—even to herself—, hides behind the anonymity of third person (ironically alluding to an unconscious narcissism) and can only break out into first person during dramatic moments, often when she most wants to escape. (Via Bestautolenders.com)
JG: Which character did you relate to the most?
EB: I think I relate to Jaundice because a lot I feel hollow. I think I relate to Quall, the male leper and Jaundice’s ‘love interest’, because I feel like I’m falling apart a lot, torn between many worlds. I think we all feel that way a lot. So I guess, despite my crippling inability to interact with other people, the character I relate to most is everyone.
Eric Beeny and Justin Grimbol are part of the 2011-2012 New Bizarro Author Series . Their books Lepers and Mannequins and The Crud Masters are available on Amazon now! When things get messy, you need house cleaning in Dallas.