All Stories, Literally Reruns, Writing

Literally Reruns – the Rise and Fall of Johnny Thunders by Adam Kluger

Leila has chosen a piece by one of the ‘old timers’ to the site. We are pleased to see Adam being featured here and I for one do hope that he answers her second question.  This is what she said:

Everyone familiar with Mr. Kluger’s work (and that should be everyone) knows just how delightfully unreliable the POV’s of his protagonists are. These people slip in and out of various realities, which are further embellished and haunted by the equally startling visual imagery, also provided by the author. In short, you can’t glance over items such as The Rise and Fall of Johnny Thunders and form a coherent opinion of it; it requires a much deeper reading than that. And even then you will find that the machinations of the ever-slipping gears in the presented “reality” will affect your sensibilities.

Q: Your works convey a sense of hyper-reality. Is this how you see the world? By such, I mean, when you look at something interesting, do you see it from its atoms on up naturally, or is an active inspection made on your part?

Q: Do you believe in God. or some other power, who knows the patterns shaped by the seemingly random events in the Universe? Or is it just a bunch of stuff that happens?


The Rise and Fall of Johnny Thunders

Adam’s Response

Q: Your works convey a sense of hyper-reality. Is this how you see the world? By such, I mean, when you look at something interesting, do you see it from its atoms on up naturally, or is an active inspection made on your part?
A: Leila, first off I am a huge fan of your work, your keen literary analyses, sense of humor and your inner spirit. You imbue LS with your inner greatness!
Now, what was the question? Oh yeah, conveying a sense of hyper-reality. As a writer you want your characters to feel real to the reader so my thought/writing process is:  less is more, keep it real and keep experimenting.
As a former news journalist (CNN), writing on deadline required jumbling various elements very quickly. You always appreciate that moment when chaos finally gives way to order. Trusting my own feelings on relevance and resonance helped me to turn feature scripts quickly. Flash fiction has an element of this too because of the immediacy of the form and that quick payoff. So, yeah my past training as a news journalist probably helps me distill and express the heart of a story in an AP-style. I’ll defer to you, Leila,  but I think most people who like to write also want to get better, evolve, fine-tune their method and find their true voice. (blah, blah, blah). I guess I just writing Flash 🙂
It also really helps me to read and re-read great authors (Hemingway, Bukowski, Fitzgerald, Melville, Joyce, Salinger, Mamet, O’Henry, Fante, Kerouac, and on and on)  to see how they handle their business. I’m re-reading Moby Dick right now and the chapter on Father Mapple has such wonderful description, allegories,  pacing, emotion, flow and character study. It resonates with its own hyper-reality and reads and feels like a piece of music.
Q: Do you believe in God. or some other power, who knows the patterns shaped by the seemingly random events in the Universe? Or is it just a bunch of stuff that happens?
A: Wow, remind me to take you to my next dinner party, Leila (which I would love to do sometime) I will talk politics. Yes, I do believe. I’m a hopeful person, so why not believe in the possibility of a higher power?
I have an artist friend named Manfred Gogol, who believes in a lattice of coincidence. He calls it Paranormia. I call it a theory.
Manfred actually interviewed me recently about  Winners & Losers  the forthcoming follow-up to my book Desperate Times: Short Stories (Belphegor Editions)–it goes more into my writing “process.” (Blah, blah, blah, Pt.2), feel free to include interview in your post if you want…or not 🙂
Thanks again!
Interview with Author & Artist Adam Kluger about Winners & Losers  
by Manfred Gogol

Q: What creative endeavors have you been up to?

A: Just trying to keep my chin up. But the short stories and the Dreck (Artwork) come when they come and that’s been pretty consistent. And when I say short stories I really mean flash fiction.

Q: What’s the difference between short stories and flash?

A: Well, length and words. I like flash because most of the times less is more and again I would give credit to Hemingway as he knew that it was always best to employ his iceberg theory of story-telling where only 10% of the story is above the surface. I just read a collection called the Nick Adams stories. So great to see A Three Day Blow and The Killers in a chronological order of sorts. Also, “Summer People.” A subtle gem. I rediscovered that story and it illustrates the point that sometimes it’s much better for a writer to hold back.

Q: Hold back on what?

A: Hold back on expository stuff. The story. Let the reader work a little. Infer, conclude, ponder.

Q: How do you do that?

A:  Non-linear and open-ended storylines. Ambiguous characters. In fact, my forthcoming sequel to “Desperate Times” is going to be titled “Winners & Losers.” The title refers to the dialectic that is on-going in all of us. Conflicting thoughts, impulses, and desires. Life is generally not black and white and neither are people. We are all various hues. Winners & Losers is sort of a double entendre. The characters in the stories vacillate between both categories through the arc of their stories. It’s really up to the reader to determine the true nature of each character as they face various conflicts and make various decisions that determine how things play out. But even then I really like to leave things open-ended because life is like that and fortune can always change on a dime. It’s a glass half full or empty situation. Like Dorian Gray, the stories and characters can change up on you on a second read. A lot of the motivations, conflicts, and resolutions are open to interpretation. My hope is that the stories will provide resonance and entertainment value.

Q: There is definitely some a dark humor to the work

A: Thanks. I try to create a roller-coaster. I think readers deserve to be entertained. Stories should do that. There should be a combination of a couple of things at work in my opinion. Real emotion. Honesty. Humor and an appreciation of the ironic and absurd nature of things. The writing should be crisp and that’s where “less is more” is a valuable tool, or as Ernie would say best, ‘All writers need a failsafe bullshit detector.”

Q: How do you do that?

A: I don’t always. Sometimes you’ll put out a clunker. Others might like it for various reason but writers know. If the writer doesn’t connect with his words, chances are neither will his audience. You have to hear your own voice as a writer and that needs to evolve constantly. I try to read as many of the great writers as possible and if necessary, re-read and re-read them. Hemingway, Bukowski, Conrad, Fitzgerald, Dostoyevsky, Melville, I mean the list is too long to mention here but the point is these great writers are great teachers and a continual source of inspiration for any aspiring writer. I’ve been a professional writer for over 30 years and I feel like I’ve just now discovered my true voice, and really flash fiction feels like the perfect length to tell a story properly without diluting its power.

Q: You mentioned your writing is like a roller coaster and I noticed the first story in Winners & Losers is entitled, Coney Island.

A: That’s true. That particular story is about the need to find courage when facing the unknown and a whole bunch of other things. I also like to arrange the stories in a collection so that the reader can move from one space or mood to a completely different neighborhood.  Unlike the first book, some of these character stories are told over a series of interconnected pieces of flash. Three or four stories focus on a couple,  other stories have repeating characters as part of a rogue’s gallery of grotesques. Sherwood Anderson presented various interconnected  off-beat characters in Winesburg, Ohio and “Winners & Losers” has a similar sort of feel that some of these characters inhabit a shared universe within the collective unconscious.

Q: What do you mean?

A:  Unlike Desperate Times which was a shattered mirror of 45 random stories, “Winners & Losers” offers overlap, and mini-character arcs told over the course of multiple pieces of flash. I’m glad to have found the Nick Adams stories at the Westsider Used Book Store recently. To discover those Hemingway stories ordered in a similar manner to Winners & Losers is comforting. It makes me think maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to mix things up. That’s usually the case.

5 thoughts on “Literally Reruns – the Rise and Fall of Johnny Thunders by Adam Kluger”

  1. Now here’s a response a person can be proud of. What a wonderful and incisive interview. I thank LS for including it in the post. And thanks to Adam for taking time out to put energy into his replies.
    Now for the non-commenting element:
    I know you are out there. The historically long intervals between acceptances and posts tell me that. Speak up and maybe somebody will give you the chance to speak eloquently about your art. Maaan just piling up publishing credits isn’t the thing. We writers are like cats: All aloof until somebody scratches us behind the ear.


    1. Hi Leila,
      If any of us can see lethargy, rage, indifference, being underwhelmed or tired, I suppose there could be a bit of a cat in us.
      I sometimes wonder about the shyness of many a writer. It is maybe because they write fiction and are comfortable doing that. Commenting, being themself and being vulnerable is something that isn’t fiction. Spell check can’t help any of that.


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