Sunday, March 21, 2010

Walter Greatshell

When not writing satirical horror novels, Walter Greatshell dabbles in freelance illustration (with an eye to creating dark children’s books, comics or graphic novels), humorous nonfiction (a throwback to his early days as a freelance journalist and arts critic), and stage acting (including in local productions of Oedipus Rex and Karel Capek’s R.U.R.). He has been a graveyard-shift nuclear-submarine technician and the general manager of a Providence landmark, the Avon Cinema.

His new book is Xombies: Apocalypticon.

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Lately I've read two true accounts of 19th Century seafarers: White Jacket by Herman Melville, and Two Years before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana. I don't know why I'm suddenly reading these things, which in the past I would have found pretty dry and technical, except that in recent years I've become much more interested in other authors' personal experiences, and how they record them. Maybe it has something to do with my growing awareness of my own mortality--eventually my writing will be all that's left to show who I was.

Melville was an ironic, literary guy, with a strongly-felt political agenda that comes through the material, while Dana was more workmanlike, just describing his adventures. I feel closer in spirit to Melville, the romantic, the doomed idealist, which is probably why I'm completely screwed.

I've also just finished House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which has flashes of brilliance but is otherwise almost unreadable. Having said that, I did finally read it, hence the "almost." It's basically a very simple (and interesting) haunted house story buried in tons of typographical gimmicks and fake footnotes. The good stuff is almost worth it--again: almost.

Finally, I'm reading Charles Portis's True Grit for the hundredth time, just because I heard the Coen brothers are making a new movie adaptation. True Grit has always been a huge inspiration for me as a writer--one of those perfect little gems like Catcher in the Rye. It reminds me of what I should be trying to do...even when I'm writing about zombies.
Visit Walter Greatshell's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Xombies: Apocalypse Blues.

The Page 69 Test: Xombies: Apocalypticon.

--Marshal Zeringue