From an interview with Celia Johnson in 2013 at Slice Magazine: ”Lock creates stories that, at first glance, seem impossible, and yet by the end of each one, feel utterly familiar… ‘Try as I have, I cannot seem to write other than I do: fables of identity, parables of self-consciousness, and tales of the marvelous.’ That magnetic pull transcends the pages of his book, making for a fully addictive collection.” READ THE FULL INTERVIEW at Slice Magazine
Norman Lock: The fable can be said to be a metaphor or figure so ambitious that it has annexed unto itself the entire fictional space. Like all symbolic language, it possesses extraordinary power to render a particular notion of reality – an idea – with absolute simplicity and efficiency. By simplicity and efficiency, I mean the reduction of complex thought into a unifying field of imagery in order to understand and convey unseen connections between objects or phenomena. The abstraction needn’t be stark. On the contrary, it can be as highly colored and intricately wrought as a Persian miniature or a poem by Wallace Stevens. But however rich in complications and implications, the metaphoric reality (can I call it a “truth”?) is vastly less vexed than what surrounds and oppresses us – by day and by night: our conscious and unconscious, public and private lives.
Read the whole interview at http://www.thecommononline.org/index.php?q=features/interview-norman-lock
Norman Lock: To say that I am a writer and am interested in stories is not the tautology it might appear. At least for one who was once suspicious of stories. I came of age when language was foregrounded and stories were mere plots and to be despised. Even before language was preeminent, characterization was everything; the psychological work of fiction, this was the ideal to which a young writer with very little experience of world literature – with no experience at all of anti-naturalistic forms – aspired. My mistrust of stories may have been a misunderstanding of what fiction is; even psychological fiction tells stories – yes? I may have confused story with plot, or perhaps not. Do we not seem to prefer “fiction” and “narrative” to “story” in our description of what we do? In our minds don’t we make a distinction between literary fiction and mere stories, which are what general readers seek in the best-sellers we disdain? (Perhaps writers younger than I are today suspicious even of the literary.)
Read the whole interview at http://www.dzancbooks.org/collagist-blog-archive/2009/10/28/interview-norman-lock.html
Norman Lock: I can trace my fascination for the miniature and the gestural in prose to the work of Russell Edson and, more important to me, Enrique Anderson Imbert and his précises of the invisible and uncanny—his 1966 “Taboo,” for example and other of his Situations published in 1966, in English translation, by Southern Illinois University Press, under the title The Other Side of the Mirror.
Read the whole interview at http://www.hobartpulp.com/website/may/lock.html
Norman Lock: Many there were who deplored the condition of the American theatrical establishment in the 1960s for its hostility to originality of structure, voice, and language. Some simply went on deploring it while others created Off-Broadway and an authentic regional theater. In the ’70s, Off-Broadway was becoming nearly as ossified as the Broadway it had replaced. The result was an Off-Off-Broadway and studio theaters that welcomed the exceptional.
Liberality of mind and spirit is succeeded always by the reactionary, which yields, in turn, to an alternative. There is nothing surprising in this. I am happy that there are alternative presses, such as FC2, Ravenna Press, Triple Press, and Calamari Press, to seriously entertain the fiction that I wish to make, as well as independent magazines to publish our stories. When I think of Joyce and Beckett and Michaux, I am cheered and glad to be in their company — not that I have their talent, but I share their banishment to the margin… What constitutes a “sufficiency”? That very much depends on the quality of readers. A handmade book that Deron Bauman made for me in 2000 during his short-lived elimae books venture was read by less than 50 people, but among them were Gordon Lish, Diane Williams, Brian Evenson, Dawn Raffel, Faruk Ulay, Cooper Renner, Kathryn Rantala, and Guy Davenport. They form, for me, a sufficiency of readers.
Read the whole interview (available as a PDF) here.
From an interview with Josh Abril on March 23, 2005:
Q. What writers have had the biggest influences on you?
A: I am, if I had to describe myself as a writer, a fabulist. Or an expressionist. Or a fantasist. I fashion artifices. I am more likely to be moved to delight by Klee and Miró, Matisse and Joseph Cornell – his boxes, than by an author, unless the author is Agnon, Beckett – of the late works such as Ill Seen, Ill Said, Company, Ohio Impromptu, Buzzati, Borges, Calvino, Cortázar – his Cronopios and Famas especially, Duerrenmatt, Hildesheimer, Ionesco, Anderson Imbert, Kafka, Kharms, Landolfi, or Schulz. The preponderance of influence on my work lies outside the American and British tradition, obviously. Unless the American is Donald Barthelme or Kenneth Koch (a magical presence in my artistic life for 30 years), or the wonderful Edson.
I have read “Tender Buttons” and am mystified, as I am sometimes in the presence of one of Cornell’s boxes. I am amused. I play Stein’s games. I like sometimes to be mystified. I read it again and again to please myself.
I like fables and fairy tales. They show the bones of the world, or its sickness. They are often homicidal. And dangerous. I was taught in college to despise them. I went to college in the ’60s; but that despite lingered for a long time, until 1977 when I discovered Ionesco, Arrabal, and Duerrenmatt, who are also dangerous and fantastic.
Read the whole interview at: http://fc2.uhv.edu/lock/interview.htm
From “An Africa of the Imagination,” an article based on an interview by the publisher of Linnean Street, Andrew Wilson, at: http://home.comcast.net/~andrew-wilson/LS/lock2.htm
Why do I and others of my contemporaries studiously avoid “story” to describe what it is they make? Could it be that we are distancing ourselves from a worn-out literary tradition? Or are we embarrassed by an inability to plot? To devise anecdotes?
To me the psychological tradition is played out. But that is only my opinion. Others believe otherwise and produce compelling work. What matters is the result of one’s opinion.
I may believe something entirely different next year. What matters is what will result from that belief.
Read the rest at: http://home.comcast.net/~andrew-wilson/LS/lock2.htm
Norman Lock: I’ll give you two examples — taken from literature — of ideas I have read and that have affected me strongly, in ways their authors may not have intended. Somewhere in Kora in Hell, William Carlos Williams talks about the dangers of figurative language — of metaphor — in that it shifts the reader’s attention away from the object, the thing itself. You can see this happening when you think about a simile: this thing is like that thing. Suddenly, you have moved away from “this” to “that.” You are no longer considering “this” by itself and on its own terms. It’s an easy point to understand, once Williams makes it for you. It explains for me why his poetry is the way it is and why he condemned Eliot’s and Steven’s work. Along the same line as Williams’ adjuration against metaphor is Robbe-Grillet’s against analogy, which, I suppose, is the same thing as metaphor; as the simile. Robbe-Grillet condemned the habit of analogy — not only in art and literature — but in thinking. Analogy is a “connection” that leads the reader, the viewer, the thinker outside himself to “nature.” For Robbe-Grillet, this is a dangerous transference: it anthropomorphizes objects in nature and fosters in men and women a tragic outlook. As I understand him, we look for a sympathetic human response in things — in nature or God; and when this response is not forthcoming, we feel a tragic absence and abandonment. We pray to God — he says — and when God does not answer, we feel His abandonment, His absence. It is better not to believe in Him and in a connection to nature. This is the way to freedom — in the sense that Camus means when he wrote, in The Myth of Sisyphus, of the absurdity of existence and of hope.
Read the whole interview at http://www.elimae.com/interviews/lock.html: