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Bookslut's Excellent In-depth Interview with Steve Erickson

If there’s anything you’d like to know about LA, just ask Steve Erickson. He’s the ultimate observer of people, film, culture and detail when it comes to the City of Angels. Knowing how things work in this crazy place called Hollywood is one of the most valuable assets you can have and Erickson, along with his characters, all surprise you from time to time in his eighth novel. Whether it’s a film buff-by-day/burglar-by-night or the ex-seminarian turned film editor, they always know more about film and it’s history than many who work in the industry itself.

Zeroville’s current acclaim is never-ending. Since its release in November, its been reviewed by Newsweek, the Washington Post Book World, the Toronto Globe, Bookforum,, The Believer and on the front page of the LA Times Book Review, as well as New York Times Book Review. Erickson will be making appearances at the New School and the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, and his radio interview with Michael Silverblatt on KCRW’s “Bookworm” in Los Angeles will air December 13.

In addition to completing Zeroville, Steve Erickson spends his time teaching in the MFA program at CalArts University in Southern California and is the editor of Black Clock, a literary magazine published by CalArts. He also has a website that you will definitely want to check out to find his books, essays and links to other interesting work. Additionally, you can read his critiques in Los Angeles magazine where he’s a film critic.

Erickson exchanged e-mails with over Thanksgiving weekend. Here we discuss music, his multi-faceted characters, film, publishing, Black Clock, and what it is about Los Angeles that keeps him coming back for more.

This work, like other novels you’ve written, is set in Los Angeles. I’m reminded of Fante in that he constantly wrote about this city, his love/hate relationship with it and making a living here. What is it about Los Angeles that keeps you coming back to it as the backdrop and often times, the focal point of your writing?
I was born and raised in L.A. I didn’t understand what an unusual place it is until I left for a while and lived somewhere else, Europe mostly. Then I saw L.A. as the ever-transforming landscape, the end of America both geographically and metaphorically, and a psychological blank slate that lends itself to whatever people can imagine -- which is why it’s a perfect place to make movies. I don’t know that I love L.A. but I’m fascinated by it, find it more interesting than any other American city if not as beautiful or dramatic, and at some intuitive level I feel I understand it. Of the eight novels I’ve written, half take place primarily in L.A., two take place partly in L.A., two don’t take place in L.A. at all. After the last two novels I can imagine the next having nothing to do with the city. But don’t hold me to it.

Interview continues, read online at Bookslut

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