This short & sweet interview was conducted early last year.
Andrew Kaufman is a novelist.
Mr Kaufman is known best for his exquisite novella, the subverted romance ‘All my Friends are Superheroes’ – a short tale in which protagonist, Tom’s, friends are all, rather unsurprisingly, superheroes. Even Tom’s wife-to-be, ‘The Perfectionist’, is a superhero. Their couples’ marriage is thrown into disarray, on their wedding day itself, due to the machinations of ‘Perfectionist’s malevolent ex-boyfriend, ‘Hypno’. Tom now finds himself invisible to his lover, who is convinced, through her ex’s antagonistic hypnosis, that her husband has left her.
‘The Perfectionist’ has decided to return home to Vancouver, Canada (close to Kaufman’s own hometown of Ontario). She has decided, when the plane lands, she will use her superhero gift to restore perfection to her life, thereby eliminating Tom from her memory. Tom has until the plane lands to get his wife to see him again and to ensure that he doesn’t lose her forever.
‘All my Friends’ is as engaging as the plot suggests, offering the reader a brisk exploration through a fully realised, fantastical world, grounded in relatable inter-personal relationships & character types. His other books, including ‘The Waterproof Bible’, in which the lead cannot stop the voracious outer projection of her innermost feelings and ‘Born Weird’, a modern fable in which the Weird family are each deigned blessings by their Grandmother at birth that, in time, reveal themselves to be curses, that blight their lives. Each of these works inhabit a similar aesthetic; wonderfully idiosyncratic.
This interview with Mr. Kaufman, in which he discusses his motivations, literary favourites & opinions on contemporary reading platforms, is much like his works; short, intriguing and not without a dash of charm.
Mr. Kaufman, when did you first become interested in literature and is there a particular novel, writer or genre that sparked this interest?
For me, it’s not really writing that I was born into. I’ve always been fascinated by story. Whether that was stories my grandfather told me or ‘Gilligan’s Island’, I’ve always loved story.
I tried a lot of other mediums. I worked in radio and film and I still work in TV, but for the kind of thing I do, with all the fantastic elements, prose just works best. There’s no budget limitations. The talking green frogs never look cheesy in a readers imagination.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
I was trying to make a feature film, when it hit me that I was never going to make any money doing indie film in Canada. So I thought I might as well not make any money doing what I really wanted to do, which was write.
How did you go about getting ‘All My Friends’ published?
I had one of those magical experiences where Alana Wilcox at Coach House books pulled it from the slush pile. It was the first place I’d sent it. I owe her a lot.
Of course, the acceptance of ‘All My Friends Are Superheroes’ came after ten years of having things rejected.
What are your feelings about contemporary changes in publishing methods, with the increase in popularity of self publishing and the purported redundancy of the publisher as middle man?
I honestly think it’s a fad. You can’t create a material culture and then remove the material. And i’m lost without a good editor.
That being said, I’m writing this to you on my iPad.
Do you feel that the Kindle, e-books & similar technologies are a good evolution of reading methods? Or, do you feel that the joy in a book is possessing a tangible book?
E-books are just a reason to buy a computer. They’re not objects to themselves. E-books are the plastic toy at the bottom of the digital cracker jack box. I have seen some very beautiful computers, however.
Do you have a favourite writer? What are your favourite of their works?
There are so many writers who blow me away: Chris Adrien, Aimee Bender, Sheila Heti.
But, if you promise not to spread it around, I’ll admit that my favourite writer is Kurt Vonnegut.
Find out more about Andrew Kaufman, and his works, at his website – Several Moments Later