Vlad Interviews Ed Simon

Vlad Savich: One of the most obscure among the apostles of Jesus was Simon who was called the Zealot (Luke 6:15), also known as Simon Kananaios (Matthew 10:4) or Simon Cananeus (Mark 3:18). What about you. Who are you Simon, apostle of literature?

Ed Simon: I don’t think I can claim apostle-hood, of literature or otherwise. When it comes to Simons who are apostles of that category, broadly defined, I’d put Carly, Paul, and David all ahead of me. Or Neil obviously. And probably any number of dozens of other people. You do bring up a good point though, the Bible is replete with Simons, not least of whom was Jesus’ best friend, though the rumor is that he changed his name so as to get into a more exclusive country club. For myself, I’d much rather less be an apostle than a heretic. So I’ll claim connection with the arch-heretic, Simon Magus. He not only could use letters for his own purposes, but could fly as well. So there’s that. I’ll claim that he is the Simon who can be an apostle of literature for that reason.

VS: If we took a divine note in our conversation. Tell me, please, why people come up with God? It seems to me because people can not control each other? They must necessarily divide people into slaves and masters. How do you think I’m wrong?

ES: It’s not that I think you’re wrong, it’s that I think that particular formulation is incomplete. That God was invented, I think, does go without saying. There is an Infinite, an Ineffable, an Ultimate, but theology is the poetic language we use to describe that reality, and “God” is always the culturally contingent, invented character that we project onto it. That said character is not literally real is of little accounting,something can not be real and still be totally true. I respect fictional characters too much to think otherwise. To address your point about religion and social control – that is undoubtedly one of the functions of religion. But its primary purpose has always been one of making meaning, and insomuch as the division of humans is a type of dark, nihilistic meaning, than of course God has been used to divide them. But as there can be evil meaning making there can also be good meaning making. God may be the Lord of Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, but he’s also Lord of Moses and Jeremiah too. I firmly believe that every oppressive system worth resisting is at its core fundamentally religious in nature, even if ostensibly secular; I also believe that every truly emancipatory system of resistance must also at its core be religious. The only things worth killing are gods, but ironically we must be priests and prophets to do it. Ultimately I think that if God is an invention used to divide people than She must also be one to free them, since theological language is at its core really the only type of language we have. Vocabulary of the market and the state does an excellent job of dividing us, let’s find some words of fire to turn the world upside down. A rejection of theological language as only ever cynically being used to promulgate a master-slave dialectic may sound radical, but I firmly think that it ultimately degenerates into a type of cynical, conservative, reaction, because it offers neither means, meaning, nor hope.

VS: In the beginning was the word and the word was with god and the word was god. Then letters appeared. What is primarily for you, words or letters?

ES: That’s an absolutely fantastic question. Gemetria, kabbalah, Thoth scratching away with his stylus, what have you. For me, as a writer, words and the Word must be primary. The Word is a sovereign Republic, a domain unto itself, a circumscribed bit of field where we can approach the ultimate. Everything depends on the correct word. But if we’re talking about reality, I think that letters are primary. Writing is always aural, and everything was born out of phonemes, from the mad babble of tongues before we had language. The truest poetry always sings a song in onomatopoeia. And consider it with letters, from the correct combination of all of the members of the alphabet you would be able to generate an answer to any question posed, the issue is just finding the right combination. In the abecedarium there is life.? ES That’s an absolutely fantastic question. Gemetria, kabbalah, Thoth scratching away with his stylus, what have you. For me, as a writer, words and the Word must be primary. The Word is a sovereign Republic, a domain unto itself, a circumscribed bit of field where we can approach the ultimate. Everything depends on the correct word. But if we’re talking about reality, I think that letters are primary. Writing is always aural, and everything was born out of phonemes, from the mad babble of tongues before we had language. The truest poetry always sings a song in onomatopoeia. And consider it with letters, from the correct combination of all of the members of the alphabet you would be able to generate an answer to any question posed, the issue is just finding the right combination. In the abecedarium there is life.

VS: But words and letters don’t express the essence of things. The table is only his verbal expression, and not the essence of the table. God is only a word that doesn’t even convey the essence of God. I think the words serve us only for deceive each other?

ES: From a semiotic standpoint, you’re literally correct. Since de Saussure we’ve widely understood that the connection between the word and the thing is arbitrary. But that words don’t express anything essential in any Platonic sense, at least not necessarily, is to miss the point. Just because the relationship between word and thing is arbitrary, just because there might not be any essential connection there, is not deceptive. After all, the relationship between the verbal expression “table” and the actual table might be arbitrary, but it’s still useful. We’re still able to use tables, it’s the opposite of deception. That’s the ever pragmatic American in me, what’s the cost-value? What’s the utility of something? And the word “God,” or Adonai, or Elohim, or Yahweh, or Deus, still have a great utility in them. One might object that “table” refers to a tangible thing in a manner that “God” doesn’t, but inventing words as placeholders for the ineffable isn’t deception, it’s poetry. He meant it cynically, but I take Voltaire very literally when he claimed that if God didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent Her. So, I say, let’s start doing that already.

VS: Literature and the wider art is the prerogative of God or the Devil. For whom do you serve, Ed – truth or mammon ?

ES: Serving Mammon has a connotation of financial compensation, and payment for writing is normally too paltry for that, so it seems unlikely for that particular demon to be involved. If you’re more generally asking if I serve God or the Devil, well, why should I have to pick just one?

VS: “Why should I have to pick just one?”  Because the world is dual. Plus – minus. Heat – cold. Light  – darkness. Maybe you came up with some sort of intermediate area. Then tell us about it.

ES: But the world isn’t actually dual! I don’t need to come up with some sort of indeterminate area, we all already live in one. It’s that old Platonic binary opposition hobby-horse that says the world is dual, but that is an illusion, a much more pernicious one in constricting us with the master-slave dialectic than the idea of God is. Take your examples, none of them are actually dualities, they only have the appearance of being them. What are heat and cold but relative measures of each other? Even absolute zero – the coldest something could theoretically be – is simply an intellectual abstraction that by definition is impossible to reach. Reality is what is the indeterminate area, dualities are dangerous fictions mediated through culture and language. The job of contemporary liberatory politics has been the demolishing of these false dualities – of male/female, white/black, and so on. And thus the job of radical theology, or theopoetics, is similar, breaking down the distinction between God existing and not existing.

VS: When I put a blank piece of paper in front of me (to write something) it seems to me a snowy field, which I must cross. What is a clean sheet of paper for you?

ES: That is a beautiful and evocative image, I really like it. I rarely right long-hand, normally just to take notes before typing on a computer. I sometimes wonder how different the process of editing and revision would be without the convenience of the word processor? When I see a blank, white document it feels like a domain of pure potentiality. That moment of first striking out, of first writing a sentence (even if it ends up deleted) gives me the relief of when you first set out on a journey and stop just planning for it. It feels like the first step on a trip, and as the page fills up I can get that euphoria that you get when you finally know that your traveling has begun. The white page is sitting in the train station waiting to go, and writing is when it starts to finally leave.

VS: What makes it easier for you to write the beginning of a novel, or the ending?

ES: I haven’t yet tried to tackle the writing of a novel, or maybe I should clarify that I haven’t yet accomplished the writing of a novel. But in my short fiction and my essays I definitely think that the beginning of the piece is easier to craft than the ending. I tend to like to begin essays with a single, crystalline, representative anecdote. Sometimes the ending circles back to the beginning, sometimes not. Endings are definitely easier than the middle part though. And as concerns reading novels, I always read the last page after having read a few pages of the beginning.

VS: You write fiction. I also write it sometimes. Then more I live then more it seems to me that our world is someone’s fantastic novel. What do you think about my idea?

ES: Oh yes, I absolutely agree with you about feeling that way sometimes. I’ve often said that the last theists are writers, and those who seriously read fiction. I interpret events in my life and in the world entirely through the lens of narratology, and I suspect a lot of other writers do this too. That’s to say that I understand events through the logic of foreshadowing, flashback, plot, story, metalepsis, etc. And if there is authorial intention there must be an Author, right? I very much suspect that we’re all living in someone else’ fantastic novel.

VS: Russian writer Gogol was difficult to come up with a plot for books. Almost all the stories were told to him by someone. From whom do you get stories?

ES: I zestfully am willing to plunder history, literature, and religion for obscure story ideas, so in that way I guess I’m not so different from Gogol (well, at least in that one small regard). The most beneficial thing graduate school did for me was to present me a method for finding more obscure stuff that could be spun into narrative. Sometimes though, stories just kind of arrive fully formed, and it’s always sort of mysterious. Everything just rapidly falls into place in my head, where everything should be in terms of structure, and what sources I should use to flesh everything out. Then it’s just a matter of getting it all down very quickly before it disappears. I find that this can happen right when I wake up, or always, always, always through walking. Writing is walking.

VS: “I very much suspect that we’re all living in someone else’ fantastic novel”. If so then tell me, please, in this fantastic novel “life on earth” you are a positive hero or negative.

ES: I’d be neither, one of those random walk on characters who occupies at most a few paragraphs in a door-stopper of a novel. Just like most minor characters in books. I’d be one of the guys eating chowder in that tavern in Moby-Dick.

VS: What are you writing about, Simon. What are you writing for, Simon. Are you being treated this way? Do you want to change the world? Become famous? Earn a million dollars? What is the meaning of your writing, my friend?

ES: Writing is something that I simply can’t not do. Everything is language, and language is what I understand everything through. I am happiest when I am able to fully combine living and writing, when I am able to write while walking and being, when I can try and live Uncle Walt’s dictate that our “very flesh shall be a great poem.” Ultimately everything I write is for myself. Dr. Johnson once said that only a fool would write for free, and if I can monetize what I have to do anyhow, why not? After all, I am an American. Fame is different, I think any published writer who says they don’t want the credit is lying. But I wouldn’t want the negatives of fame. And to change the world, I think, is something which is very hard to do, and I don’t think I’d be good at it anyhow. But if everything else was taken away, if all the other ancillary benefits of writing were eliminated, I would still have to write simply because I have to write.

VS: “I have to write simply because I have to write”  So you mean writing is a kind of drug addiction?

ES: Oh yes, very much so. In my experience, it is an apt comparison, if less hangovers.

VS: Tell me, my friend, the ideal book as an ideal world is a utopia or is’t what we need to strive for?

ES: The ideal book and Utopia are both very similar republics. They serve as abstract ideals to which we must strive towards, like the nonexistent God who nonetheless deserves our prayers. But we can never be citizens of Utopia, even while we should forever be emigres there. And as one should never trust one who claims to have been to Utopia, one should hold no truck with anyone who claims to have read or written the ideal book. We’re only ever afforded occasional glimpses, not possession.

VS: My native language is Russian. Yours is English. Possession of a certain language is an accident or fate?

ES: Being born into a language is like being born into a nationality or a religion – everyone in the world is a citizen of the greatest nation on Earth and a penitent in the one true faith. In reality, there is no providence in what your native tongue might be. That being said, languages themselves have a certain tenor built into them which inevitably affects thoughts. Languages are naturally affected by the inevitable wisdom of rhythm, by the invariable brilliance of sound. Thoughts, by necessity, are altered by the language which they are thought in. That might not be linguistics, but it’s poetics. Chomsky is right on most things, but I always found his linguistic theories to be a bit airless and uninspiring –  of course I say this with no particular specialization in linguistics. Rather give me Sapir-Whorf, with their celebration of the multiplicity of genius across different languages. Like most of my fellow countrymen I am deficient in other tongues, so the individual genius of other languages is only accessible to me through translation (though, weirdly, I’m able to read Cyrillic, though I probably have only half a dozen Russian words at best). I’ve always taken it as kind of a given that different languages will fate different literatures, but when it comes to what an individual language’s genius is, I fear that I normally fall into the recourse of stereotype.

VS: Every literature has its own peculiarities. For example, Russian literature has spiritual direction. What is the special feature of American literature?

ES: I once had the idea for an essay tentatively titled “The Eagle and the Bear” in which I wanted to argue the thesis that “American literature answers the question that Russian literature asks.” I liked the idea of the whole thing, but had no idea what it really meant, and felt like any kind of argument I would make would be basically sophistry, so I never wrote it. I think I was going to argue something about the open road? Not sure. Either way, I think you’re absolutely right that Russian literature has a spiritual, if not mystical, quality. Even Russia’s atheists have a fervent piety in their atheism. Bolshevism was after all one of the twentieth-century’s most influential secular faiths. In terms of the special characteristic of American literature, I think it’s most special feature is an obsession with the idea of America itself. No national literature takes the idea of the nation itself as centrally as does that of the United States. Canonical American literature is always fundamentally trying to answer the question “What then is the American, this new man?” Because America didn’t organically grow in the same way as other nations, and for better and often worse was an invented utopian concept, there has always been an ambiguity about what the nation means. And so the feature of American literature, for better and often worse as well, is a obsessive turning inward about the very idea of Americanness itself. Some would call this self-reflection, some narcissism.

VS: There are three main questions in Russian literature 1 .Who is to blame? 2. What to do? 3. Where are my glasses!?

What are American literature answers to these questions.

ES: 1. Before 1776 – You are to blame. After 1776 – Everybody else is to blame.  2. Keep driving.  3. I don’t know, but there is always a deal at LensCrafters. “LensCrafters, Helping the World to See.”


VS: When I was a little boy my favorite place was a bookstore. The books seemed to me like ships carrying me into the wondrous world.

Tell me where can an electron book be carried and  one more thing. The book in my opinion should smell of printing ink, dust of time, dry flower, mother perfume, father’s tobacco. The electronic book is devoid of all this. So it’s not quite the book anymore. What do you think about it?

ES: I absolutely agree with you; if you alter the shape of a book you alter what a book is. An electronic book can carry the information contained within a physical book, but it must always be different from a book. Electronic books have done many good things, from making information potentially more democratic to giving us the ability to travel with an entire library in a super computer we keep in our pockets, but a lot has been lost too. The techno-Cartesians in Silicon Valley have duped people with a mind-body duality as concerns the book itself, where the soul of a book can be extricated and be made available on any device, but you’re right that a book is physical as well as mental, of the senses and not just the mind. That is not to speak of the fact that the atomistic nature of the individual physical book keeps it away from the prying eyes of both state and corporation, a singular individualism which the interconnected web violates.

VS: Tell us, please, what are you writing now. What is the most interesting question of modern life for you?

ES: I’m always trying to be working on about a dozen things at a time, if I’m not writing at least a thousand words a day I start to get anxious, or more anxious than normal. Since I’m always juggling a couple different projects, I have to stay on my toes to keep on top of everything and remember what exactly it is that I have to do. As a consequence, I normally see more in terms of trends, that is the sorts of things I’m writing right now rather than individual things that I am working on. One of those trends are essays that are composed around a few vignettes, like my Thirty Six Observations about Goodness series which editor Russell Bennetts has been running at Berfrois. I like to think of it as a Wondercabinet essay, or maybe even better, as a mix-tape. In terms of what question I think is the most pressing in the contemporary world, I think it’s what form meaning will take in the 21st-century. That there is a collapse of meaning is in and of itself a prosaic observation – there is always a collapse of meaning. Our myths are built entirely around the idea that we are the children of meaning’s collapse. That we’ll reconcile this is a given – humanity always does. My question is what will that new meaning look like? Something expansive and humane, or as has become to seem a real possibility, a noxious, dark, tyrannical construction of meaning? And in the midst of all of that, how does one tend one’s own garden while not losing their soul?

VS: “Nulla dies sine linea”  It’s clear. I used to worry too. Now I can’t write for a long time. Tell me, please, how do you think – literary text is a living being. If so, where is hidden soul text:  letters, words, meanings …?

ES: That’s right, never a day without a line. That’s the only real advice anyone can ever give any writer, to always be writing. That and to always be reading. In terms of where the hidden soul of literature is located, I think that it’s spread across all three of those. Sound has an inevitable logic which can’t be ignored, it gives literature its warp and wave. The kingdom of word is sacrosanct, and meaning is what is derived from the interaction of sound and word. It’s a little like the Trinity I suppose.

VS: “It’s a little like the Trinity I suppose”. And who at this Trinity is God ?

ES: If it’s the Trinity, than they’re all God. Meaning is God the Father, the Word is clearly God the Son, and Sound is naturally the Holy Spirit, as clearly made manifest during the mad cacophony of Pentecost. Does Sound emanate from both Meaning and Word, or from Meaning alone? That depends on if you’re from the west or east.

VS: Tell me, please, whether there is a place for God in the future or whether he will disappear as a rudiment. If humanity passes from the biological stage into the informational stage then  Humanity will become almost immortal, then why do they need an almighty God?

ES: Oh no, not at all. There can be an elevated feeling, and a type of mystery as to where it comes from, but I don’t think any writer ever feels so totally in control that they’d be able to make a claim like that.

VS: Tell me, please, Ed, if the houses were built from words and sounds, what would they look like?

ES: They would look like houses do. Since nothing is accomplished but through the incantations of language, it would be impossible to build such houses without words and language. To direct, explain, and command one needs words; anthropologists can mark the time before and after language based on the presence of planned mass architecture and technology. 

VS: Judging by your answers, you are a person of encyclopedic knowledge. What else are you interested in besides writing?

ES: Thank you, that is nice of you, though I should probably admit that I fear that my knowledge might be more of the Wikipedic variety. Finding interests outside of writing can be difficult. I imagine a lot of writers and academics, at least in the humanities, know that feeling whereby everything is potential fodder to be written about or taught. Any meal eaten, film watched, television enjoyed. And of course since cultural studies eliminated the distinction between high and low culture everything has become a text to be analyzed, and so we’ve been purged of our delicious guilty pleasures. I do watch a lot of TV though.

VS: Today, television series have replaced  books. I also began to write literary series I hope they will take by TV. Once they took it, but not find the money for the filming. Money is modern censorship – what you think about this?

ES: I’d be fascinated by your television series, what would it be about? I’m obsessed with long-form prestige television. I had an idea for a show about a woman who is a liberal Episcopalian priest, and a convert from Catholicism, called Collar. I don’t think anyone would ever want to make it. I think that you’re absolutely right that money is a modern form of censorship, especially in the United States’ with things like Citizens United which make a mockery of the idea of free speech, and only serve to silence people. It’s always been the case that free speech is pretty expensive, reserved for those with the money to buy the printing presses. It’s funny to me, especially in our current political climate, when people worry about the free speech rights of people who have the money to buy any platform they want, while conveniently ignoring the very thing that you identified – that if you’re marginalized you can’t afford speech.

VS: This is an adventure story that occurs during Gorbachev’s perestroika. The story is very interesting. I know why they didn’t take it. Not because they didn’t find money, but because the names of the negative heroes are Putkin and Meedvedkin. I also write theater plays. Are you interested about the theater?

ES: That sounds like an interesting plot to me! Did you try and get funding in Russia, or over here? It might be time to try pitching it again, after all, we’ve got Russian fever down here now. We’re all fascinated by whose been talking to Russians, who is denying talking to Russians, what Russians, and why. Perhaps its time has come! I love the theater, it’s the only dramatic form that I feel can compress the emotional intensity of the novel into a relatively economical time-frame. Really intense theater is a lot more visceral than film, and something about the live nature of it, and the variability of it from night to night, fundamentally alters the form in an important way. I’ve written a few one acts, and one five act play, but years ago. I always feel like the way to tell if anything you’ve written is any good is to wait a few years and then come back, and if you can force yourself to read it without grimacing, it’s passed the test. I don’t think that any of those plays will be pass that test for me. I would love to go back to writing plays at some point though, as the invention of characters and different voices has always been fundamentally attractive to me. I also imagine that the rush of seeing actors inhabit the words you’ve written must be its own special type of rush.

VS: “We’ve got Russian fever down here now”. In the days of the USSR, the United States fought with the Soviet regime. I don’t understand why today the US doesn’t fight with Putin’s Putin regime. Do you have any answer ?

ES: This is a good question. In some ways there has been a political realignment, with the Democrats, for obvious reasons, interested in the question of whether there was direct collusion between the Putin regime and the Trump administration. A lot of Republicans, who I suspect know that there was, have embraced a really cynical political expediency, and seemingly accept such collusion as no big deal. I know some critics on the far left think that the Democratic obsession with Russian agents meeting with Trump surrogates is similarly cynical, but I think that if there were connections, they need to be exposed. And I think all of the evidence that I’ve seen seems to indicate that there was a high degree of cooperation between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. I think that a political cynicism explains McConnell or Ryan’s looking the other way on the issue, but a lot of far right folks, neo-fascists, etc, embrace Putin as some kind of Czar of a Pure White Empire. They don’t just ignore the collusion, they welcome it, and they see Moscow as the capital of a revanchist, right-wing, populist, international movement; a type of International Commissariat of Reactionism. Putin, I’ve gathered, has become a sort of fascist hero to a lot of these folks; one of the chants in Charlottesville was “Russia is our friend.” It’s dizzying, the embrace of Russia now from the right instead of the left. A lot of centrist Democrats were taken off guard with it, but I sort of got it a few years ago. I remember getting into an argument in a rust belt bar with some random American who loved Putin. It was surreal, and I’ve thought about it in light of what’s happened since.

VS: Our conversation always revolves around the name of God  but it is said «Remember not the Lord’s name in vain» What will you say to God when you see him?

ES: I’ll ask him what the punchline is.

VS:  5 11 17 there will be a revolution in Russia. It must end the regime of Putin, whom I call Huilo, and establish in Russia an anarcho-democratic system 1 liquidation of the state 2 direct popular democracy. What do you think about this?

ES: I had to look that up, “Dickhead,” I like that as a nickname for him! I think if it was possible, it would be fantastic. Do you think it’s likely to happen anytime soon? I have no sense of the opposition to Putin in Russia, other than the really visible folks like Pussy Riot, etc. I’m all for it, I think Putinism is one of the most dangerous ideologies in the world today, because it gives an intellectual coherence to the defeated and noxious ideologies of the past century. I think anyone on the left – from liberals all the way to anarchists – should view Putin as their enemy. A lot of folks on the American left, understandably apt not to believe the American intelligence agencies, have been too apologetic to such a reactionary regime, whether because of misplaced allegiances to figures like Julian Asange, I don’t know. But Putin has effectively invented a type of post-structuralist, dadaist, fascism. It stands in opposition to democracy, and it’ll be a good day when it’s buried with all the other poisonous worldviews.

VS: “Do you think it’s likely to happen anytime soon?” Neither Russia nor the world has another way. We are on the threshold of a new historical era. Do not you see this?

ES: Oh, I very clearly see that, but where I have doubts is as to what this new world will look like. It’s just as possible we’ll see apocalypse as we will millennium. One hopes for progress, but prepares for its opposite.

VS: As a representative of Russian culture, I can’t ask you. What do you know about Russian literature?

ES: Since I’ve recently discovered that the bus I ride home from work every day goes right by the apartment building Vladimir Nabokov lived in while he was curating the butterfly collection at Harvard’s natural history museum, I now feel more qualified to answer this question. In general, I like Dostoevsky a lot more than Tolstoy. If you’re going to give me Christianity, make it gritty and existentialist. “The Grand Inquisitor” is among the greatest short pieces of prose ever written, even in Blatavsky’s turgid translation. Nobody did more to make the short story what it is than Chekhov. And Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita is the perfect combination of funny and sad. Also, I need to take time to read more Pushkin.

VS: Do you have more enemies or friends, in your life?

ES: Despite being naturally a sort of paranoid person, I’ve decided to take a leap of faith and assume that I have more friends than enemies. When it comes to reception of my writing, it’s normally pretty positive at least, except when it isn’t.

VS: “Building Vladimir Nabokov”. How do you think Humbert Humbert (Lolita) is a positive hero or negative?

ES: Humbert is very much a negative character. In killing the innocence of a child, he’s committed an egregious sin. He is, of course, also tremendously learned and witty, with Humbert’s voice being one of the most evocative and attractive in modern literature. In that sense Humbert is a profoundly Miltonic character, he is reminiscent of Lucifer. Lolita enacts the same psychological result that Stanley Fish argues Paradise Lost does – it “surprises you with sin.” Humbert, and in the process, the novel has a profoundly moral purpose – revealing what is fallen in the reader, who is so attracted to such a monster.

VS: What time in your life was the most interesting.

ES: This will sound cliche, but I think the present is the most interesting time, because it’s that which always contains the potentiality for the future. Walter Benjamin said that every second is a portal through which the messiah may enter, and Wittgenstein said that there is no eternity but the now. As often as I fail, which is most of the time, I take both of those as a summons to live presently and mindfully. As observations they are helpful for that integral glorification of the present.

VS: I want talking with you for endlessly, but it’s time to finish our interview. What do you want to tell our readers at the end?

ES: It has been delightful to talk with you as well, and would love to continue with another interview at some point! In terms of what readers should know is a tricky one, so many ways to fail! I suppose that I would tell them that sacred reenchantment is our crucial responsibility and that literature remains one of the most potent methods for accomplishing that goal. And, because I am an American after all, and have no issues with hocking a bit of snake oil at the tent revival, I’ll also push my collection, American and Other Fictions: On Radical Faith and Post-Religion, to be released by Zero Books in 2018.

Ed Simon is the associate editor at The Marginalia Review of Books, a channel of The Los Angeles Review of Books. A regular contributor at several different sites, he holds a PhD in English from Lehigh University. He can be followed at his website, or on Twitter @WithEdSimon.
Vlad* Savich was born in the USSR, where he was educated, married and fathered his daughter. As soon as the chance appeared to leave, he did. At present he lives in Montreal, where he writes, directs for the theatre and breathes the air of freedom. He can be found online at savich.lit.com.ua.
*He prefers not to be called Vladimir, so as not to be associated with the disreputable activity of a certain barnardine Russian leader.

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