Episode 13 – Author’s choice
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Joining me this episode for an online is journalist and author Dan Kaufman!
Dan is a former newspaper journo and editor – who still occasionally writes columns for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. He launched, ran and wrote the very popular Bar Zine before starting his own media training, writing and editing consultancy business.
This year he has released his first novel, Drowning In The Shallows, a social satire poking fun at love, sex and masculinity set in the Sydney bar and nightlife scene.
A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Ignatius J. Reilly is a 30-year-old medievalist who lives at home with his mother in New Orleans, penning his magnum opus on Big Chief writing pads he keeps hidden under his bed, and relaying to anyone who will listen the traumatic experience he once had on a Greyhound Scenicruiser bound for Baton Rouge. But Ignatius’s quiet life of tyrannizing his mother and writing his endless comparative history screeches to a halt when he is almost arrested by the overeager Patrolman Mancuso–who mistakes him for a vagrant–and then involved in a car accident with his tipsy mother behind the wheel. One thing leads to another, and before he knows it, Ignatius is out pounding the pavement in search of a job.
The many subplots that weave through this story are as complicated as anything you’ll find in a Dickens novel, and just as beautifully tied together in the end. A true tragicomedy.
This is Dan’s favourite book of all time and so he felt that he should pair it with his favourite cocktail of all time – the Sazerac. Invented in New Orleans, where the book is set, this cocktail is complex and bitter, just like Ignatius. A perfect pairing indeed!
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
In the small town of Martirio, Texas, fifteen-year-old Vernon Little finds himself in deep trouble after his best friend Jesus kills sixteen of his classmates before committing suicide as he becomes the target of both vengeful townspeople in search of vengeance and justice and the media’s thirst for sensation. His mother, endlessly awaiting the delivery of a new refrigerator, seems to exist only to twist an emotional knife in his back; her friend, Palmyra, structures her life around the next meal at the Bar-B-Chew Barn; officer Vaine Gurie has Vernon convicted of the crime before she’s begun the investigation; reporter Eulalio Ledesma hovers between a comforting father-figure and a sadistic Bond villain; and Jesus, his best friend in the world, is dead. As his life explodes before him, Vernon flees his home in pursuit of a tropical fantasy: a cabin on a beach in Mexico he once saw in the movie Against All Odds. But the police–and TV crews–are in hot pursuit.
Dan would pair this story of escape to Mexico with a classic Margarita cocktail. Salty, tart and strong this drink definitely reflects its pair!
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
This is a novel about a young woman’s efforts to duck the ills of the world by embarking on an extended hibernation with the help of one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature.
Our narrator is young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva.
Justine would pair this with a Cosmopolitan, not purely because she thinks that the main character would look at this choice with varying levels of disdain, but also because it is a tart drink with an underlying sweetness, it’s colour and ‘prettiness’ belying the strength and sourness which can be found within.
This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!
Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.