Jim Gauer and the Anxiety of Influence

Still working my way through Jim Gauer’s Novel Explosives, but his appearance on The Great Concavity  (which is warmly supported by this site) is worth listening to in full.  For a quick gulp, here’s a clip of Dave Laird reading from the book:

One of the more interesting revelations is Gauer talking directly about the anxiety of influence, and how, during the 7 years it took for him to write and publish the novel, he steered clear of Bolano’s 2666 (since he was writing about Juarez and drug syndicates, among many other things) and Infinite Jest.  In fact, he didn’t read Infinite Jest until after he finished Novel Explosives, and so he brings a fresh appreciation to Wallace’s work.

This is a subject we’ve touched on here before, specifically regarding Dara’s initial reaction to William Gaddis’s JR, which he found at the American Library in Paris. According to Steven Moore, Dara told him, “Took the novel home, plunked it open, tapped it shut–didn’t want the influence.”

The subject often comes up when thinking about younger writers dealing with heroes and legends, but there’s something interesting about established writers speaking practically about the effect that ingesting these mind-altering vapors can have on one’s prose, perhaps well after the ego has landed.

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