Bob Shacochis, National Book Award winner, is one of those living writers I most admire. He’s had a colorful, adventurous life—both Peace Corps volunteer and war correspondent—and is the author of terrific books such as Easy in the Islands, Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love, Swimming in the Volcano, and The Immaculate Invasion—at least one of which being what I refer to admiringly as A Big Crazy Book. My theory is that most of us who have written or are writing books think they’re all Big Crazy Books when they’re in process, but then the editor asks for cuts, and the publisher reduces the type size to get costs down because there’s a bindery cost-break if it comes in under 200 pages, and suddenly we hold the finished product and see it’s not Big in the way we thought at all. When Bob Shacochis writes a Big Crazy Book it by god stays that way.
When I asked Bob if he’d like to contribute and how things were going in general, he wrote, “…you can just say that I'm a few months away from finishing a novel I've been working on since 2002, a big motherfucking black hole of a book, more than 800 pages long, set on four continents with an unknown (uncounted) number of characters and a time period that stretches from World War Two to the year 2000. It's a pre-9/11 tale/murder mystery/espionage thriller/daddy-daughter-pedophile book, and will be published by Grove Atlantic in 2012. Nice people will not want to read it, I'm afraid. Umm, oh yeah, the title is The Woman Who Lost Her Soul.”
Despite his obligations, he kindly sat down one evening and recorded for us here a nonfiction piece about horrible adventures on the Kamchatka Peninsula, which I think you’ll like a lot. Even his dogs get in on the act….
If you’re at the conference, see Bob Shacochis today, Thursday, 3:00-4:15, Maryland Suite Room, Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level, R193, in a session called “What’s Normal in Nonfiction?” Right after that he’ll be in the Thurgood Marshall East Room, Marriott Wardman Park, Mezzanine Level, R217, for a session called “Status Update: The Personal Essay in the Age of Facebook.”