The Brooklyn-based writer and illustrator Matt Dojny's first novel, The Festival of Earthly Delights, is on sale today. (Book trailer!) He promises spiked punch at the launch reading tomorrow night at BookCourt (and will also read next Tuesday evening at McNally Jackson with John Wray, with whom he collaborated on the illustrated essay "Impossible Sightseeing" in A Public Space).
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
A friend told me that reading my novel was like “sticking [his] face into the armpit of a beautiful woman.” I can’t attest to the accuracy of this statement, but, it is a vivid description (and a line that eventually made it into the book itself).
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers' lives for the better?
Read: The book Prisoners’ Inventions, by “Angelo”. It can never hurt to know how to brew one’s own Pruno, or light a cigarette with a battery.
Watched: Blue Velvet: The Deleted Scenes. Blue Velvet’s infamous, long-thought-missing deleted scenes were recently rediscovered and—for a brief, awesome moment—available for viewing on YouTube in one hour-long video. (FOX has since removed the footage from the web, though I’m sure the scenes continue to exist in some shadowy alternate chronoverse...)
Listened to: “Kuen Kuen Lueng Lueng,” an insanely catchy quasi-cover of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” by Thai freak-rocker Sroeng Santi.
Ate: Spicy cricket snacks cooked by my cousin Brooke for a promotional foodcart that I recently hosted at BookExpo America. If you somehow missed this event, you can recreate the cricket-snacking experience by following Brooke’s recipe:
“Spend a long weekend in a cricket field. Catch as many crickets as you can. Put the caught crickets in the freezer until they stop cricketing. Take out of freezer and fry in safflower oil or other high-heat oil. Strain onto baking rack. While still hot, toss in salt, cayenne, and citric acid powder. Use them like nuts or seeds on your favorite salad, or eat them like popcorn while watching The Avengers on Cuevean.tv.”
Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
Funny—Marcus Aurelius was going to be my original answer. Otherwise, I’d love for Ghostface Killah to write a collection of short stories. You know he’s got some humdingers.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
That depends on your definition of “starving” (and, I suppose, your definition of “artist”). In my younger days, while traveling around Southeast Asia, I ran out of money and—rather than returning home—decided to hunker down in Singapore and try to make some money. I paid two dollars a night to sleep on a bunk bed in the hallway of Waffles Guesthouse, and took all of my meals at a dirt-cheap Malaysian cafeteria around the corner that served a delicious nasi lemak. I was desperate for work, and so—despite the fact that my face begins twitching nervously whenever it has a camera pointed at it—I applied to a variety of Caucasian-specific acting and modeling gigs. I was a hand-model in a series of Australian Nokia ads; I played the Chief of Police in a Chinese soap opera set in 1920s Singapore; and starred in a series of karaoke videos filmed in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia. During this time, I did a lot of the writing and artwork that served as the foundation for my novel. However, I can’t honestly attest to the quality of my output during those lean months; it wasn’t until, years later, when I was fat and happy back in the First World, that I managed to have the wherewithal to sit down and convert those raw materials into an actual book. There’s something to be said for writing on a full stomach.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
A few nights ago, I had a dream that my long-dead childhood pet—an overweight Springer Spaniel named Peppermint Patty—ate my entire novel, page by page, wagging her tail the entire time. When she was finished, she woofed once, licked my face, and curled up next to me on the sofa. She appeared deeply satisfied.
Have you ever written anything that you'd like to take back?