A Dish That Can Be Had Cheaply:
Amy Wright Interviews John Domini

Amy Wright: In "Shrill Skype," the protagonist asks, "Can we go back to before it got weird?" Have you ever been allowed to go back? What happened, or why not?

John Domini: Concocting fiction takes me back before it was weird, always, but briefly, only, before filamenting me out into further bizzarie. This one took me back to various more or less successful attempts to manipulate new media to more or less romantic ends, phone- & cyber-, etc., mere grubby loneliness and its permutations, and then next thing you know, I'm channeling Donald Barthelme, cutting deals on Sunset Boulevard, and sketching new constellations out above the Songlines. A fine madness.

AW: Have you ever had a dream about an octopus?

JD: Between me & the octopus, it's no mere wet dream. My family comes from Naples, Italy, where the octopus of the Gulf have been a totemic figure for millennia, not to mention a dish that can be had cheaply yet deliciously -- a common delicacy, you might say -- all over the greater metro area. Above my desk as I type sits a freestanding wooden rendering of an octopus, a stylization in lovely golden-brown walnut, and who cares that I found it on the island of Kauai? Among Neapolitans, too, many local proverbs derive their significance from the octopus. Perhaps the most resonant remains, 'O puolpo si ccuocce in accua sua, "the octopus cooks in its own water," a saying with a dozen meanings at least, having to do with everything from love to criminality. The storylines tentacle out everywhere.

AW: Henry Chin's epitaph reads, "A caring husband, a loving husband, and most of all, an adoring gung-gung." Gung-gung is grandfather in Cantonese. Thirty seconds. Your tombstone. Write it.

JD: Here lies John -- from now on --
& if you read him when he's gone,
enter in the rhythmatic fun,
& then quake with vivification.