Hemorrhaging Slave of an Obese Eunuch – An Interview with Tom Bradley

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Next in our Doghorn Publishing series is Tom Bradley.

Q1. How long have you been a writer and how did you get started?

A: I started about as early as humanly possible without getting all wet-wired and deoxyribonucleic about it. I received my writerly vocation in the first grade–and I was only five at the time. The authorities decided to matriculate my bewildered ass a year early because I was already taller than most third graders, and the kindergartners were visiting the rest room in their pants when I came rumbling out to recess.

One afternoon, Miss Krall, our depraved abomination of a first-grade teacher, told us to go home and write a true story. She really puckered her vicious lips on the word “true,” which meant she was serious about that stipulation. So, of course, I went home and wrote about the time my father and I saved my little brother from the sharks.

Next day when I submitted the manuscript, Miss Krall got very upset–I mean drooling and eye-rolling. This was an unhappy crone, a Mormoness of manic piety, drunk most of the time. Though legally a spinster, she was rumored to “enjoy celestial ties” with the neighborhood “Bishop” (read polygamy in its sickest and most furtive form).

Knowing that I was the youngest child in my family, and that I had never been out of the landlocked state of my birth, she called my father in for a conference and told him that I was starting out life on the wrong foot with such mendacity. He magnetized the story to the front of our fridge, where it remained until the very crayon faded.

This familiarized me with some of the prerogatives of the writer. To thumb one’s nose at authority and lay the lofty low, and simultaneously to enjoy the single experience that Freud considered better than unmetaphorical sex: feeling the superego reach down and pat the ego on the head for a job well done. And all this when you’ve been having fun lying through your teeth.

 Q2. HEMORRHAGING SLAVE OF AN OBESE EUNUCH is a dizzyingly wide-ranging book. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

A: It happens in the middle of the Adriatic Sea during Neronic times, in Hiroshima Cathedral’s demon-infested basement, in the royal elephant stables of a Hindustani town three millennia ago, in a Tokyo AIDS hospice disguised as a derelict kindergarten, on a yacht anchored off a South China leper isolation colony, and on top of a skull-shaped and -textured geothermal formation in the prune-colored midnight.

Nominated in the Transgender Category at the Lambda Literary Awards, this book includes such subtle gems as “I Was A Teenage Rent-a-Frankenstein,” “Nilla-Killa,” “Fricasseed Filipina,” “Bachelor Biff and his Foo-Chow Whore Get a Crypto-Missionary in Big Trouble with the Chi-Coms,” and more.

The great Dave Migman has written, “In HEMORRHAGING SLAVE OF AN OBESE EUNUCH, Tom Bradley grapples and headlocks such diversely horrific and perversely humorous subject matter. His diction is immense, chaotic, mesmerising… and in the brawling mass of flayed figurines, bloated baubles and wispy ghosts such powerful and timeless imagery is oozed into being.”

Q3. Do you consider yourself to be a screenwriter, novelist, essayist or poet? You’ve published books in all those genres.

A: I’m a screenwriter if one of my novels happens to lend itself to that treatment. As for novelist vs. essayist, I’m both at once. Lately I haven’t been distinguishing. What I publish as nonfiction tells as many lies as my novels, and my novels are shaped as rigorously as proper essays. Poetry, so far, has only come out of me in response to a stack of pre-existing artwork, as in WE’LL SEE WHO SEDUCES WHOM, A GRAPHIC EKPHRASIS IN VERSE, published a couple months ago by Unlikely Books.

Q4. What was it like to work with Dog Horn Publishing?

A: A pleasure all the way. Adam Lowe is the only person I know who can be working on five different things at once, and right in the middle dash off an email at top speed which is a crystalline example of perfect, nuanced, graceful English prose. I’ve never come across anyone with a greater linguistic facility than Adam. Plus, he’s fun to work with!

And there are all these other fantastic people at Dog Horn: Deb Hoag, Dave Migman, Chris Kelso, Garrett Cook, each one a superb writer, skilled editor and delightful human being to josh with.

Q5. Do you think the world of publishing takes enough risks even within the independent sector? Does progressive fiction have room to breathe?

A: New York’s most bloated, behemoth purveyors of corporatocratic horse crap regularly churn out things that, in cheaper binding and smaller editions, could pass for what indie people call “progressive fiction.” The term is meaningless. The only books that have “room to breathe” are written by authors who have connections with bastards in a position to promote, distribute and bribe New York reviewers. Content is irrelevant.

Q6. Do you have a preference for traditional formats like real books?

A: Any means of preserving and transmitting books is hunky-dory with me. But I don’t consider anything published unless it’s in physical form. I have no confidence in machinery’s staying power.

A friend of mine happens to be a homicide detective. He says the cops can know if a guy has killed his wife by his reaction to the news of her death. If, at first, he looks as though he’s just been informed that the sky is green, the grass blue–if his face is filled not with disbelief, but just the puzzled assumption that he’s hearing nonsense–then he probably didn’t kill her. That’s my reaction when someone suggests that the internet, or, for that matter, the electrical grid, is here to stay.

Q7. Are you interested in using new digital media, like web platforms to do something different with fiction?

A: I personally have no aptitude with machinery. But, as long as a book of mine appears in physical form, I’m happy if someone else makes a gizmo out of it. For example, my latest title, THIS WASTED LAND (a collaboration with the great poet, Marc Vincenz), has been turned into what is called an “app” by Jonathan Penton of Unlikely Stories. It fascinates with sound, moving images and interlinking screens that spin and flash and blip. This “app” gets the attention of people who might otherwise miss the real book, so that’s fine.

Many thanks to Tom for answering our questions, you can find more of his words at –

www.tombradley.org

You can now purchase this title from our online shop here.

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