Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Phillip DePoy

Phillip DePoy is the author of a number of mysteries, including the Edgar Award winning play Easy. He has published short fiction, poetry, and criticism in Story, The Southern Poetry Review, Xanadu, and Yankee, among other magazines. As a folklorist, Depoy has worked with Joseph Campbell and John Burrison. He is currently the director of the theatre program at Clayton State University.

DePoy's Fever Devilin novels include The Drifter's Wheel and the newly released A Corpse’s Nightmare.

Late last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I’ve just finished re-reading, for the seventh or eighth time, Creative Mythology, the fourth volume of Joseph Campbell’s Masks of God. This time I was mostly interested in the early roots of the Tristan and Iseult stories, and how that love triangle (King Mark, the sort of mystical healer Iseult, and the knight Tristan) compared with the later versions of the King Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere triangle. As it turns out, the Tristan saga is almost entirely pre-Christian, deeply disturbed, and a much more confusing (there are two Tristans, and one is a dwarf; there are three Iseults, and they all mean business.) This turned out to be research for a new book that I’m writing now.

Before that I read, seriously, three different versions of Oedipus—because I’m working on a new version of it in collaboration with some other theatre artists. The Sophocles version is the most basic of the plays. Seneca’s is the most violent. Dryden’s was a huge success in the Restoration, but my least favorite. I did not read Voltaire’s. And as a matter of fact, Joseph Campbell is responsible for my Oedipal obsession, too, thanks to this quote from The Hero with a Thousand Faces: “The latest incarnation of Oedipus… stands this afternoon on the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, waiting for the traffic light to change.” Actually, I’m pretty sure I saw that guy, only he was over on Columbus Avenue.

And before that I read Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre. It’s non-fiction disguised as impossibly implausible fiction—a double agent during World War II. Among the real life characters we count a brief moment with none other than Ian Fleming, including a letter that begins: “Dear Fleming, I feel sure that you will be as pleased as I was to hear the results of the latest squid trials.” I really enjoyed the ridiculous attention to detail and the bizarre tangential digressions, which I had always assumed were particular to a certain brand of southern literature. Nice to know there’s old world precedent for my brand of distraction.
Visit Phillip DePoy's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Drifter's Wheel.

The Page 69 Test: A Corpse's Nightmare.

--Marshal Zeringue