Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Did growing up in small-town South Carolina have an impact on your weird-ass sense of humor?

From Bill Verner's terrific interview with my cousin Liz:

Q: Much gets made of your experimental ideas, but it’s also true that your stories are just damned funny. Did growing up in small-town South Carolina have an impact on how your weird-ass sense of humor developed?

A: I think I imbibed my grim, sometimes brutal sense of humor from my dad, who inherited it from both his maternal and paternal ancestors, who are all from the South Carolina low country, a miserable swampy realm. Here is a sampling of it: as a teen, when I got my first nose zit, my dad informed me that I had a disease called “scabrunocatosis,” a hereditary pathology that causes the nose-bone to grow excessively until it pops through the skin, after which it keeps on growing until the sufferer’s head is wreathed in a tangle of bone.  Dad not only insisted that such a disease existed, but he kept up his ruse for an entire day, during which I vacillated between smirking at the ridiculousness of it and feeling stabs of paranoid terror—after all, the thing in my nose did feel kind of bony. This darkly beautiful, yet absurdly comic fiction was inflicted upon me when I was about twelve years old, and this kind of elaborate, grotesque teasing seems distinctly Southern to me. Although it may seem cruel, it also creates a kind of mental flexibility on the part of its victims, particularly an ability to swing schizophrenically between horror and humor, and to mitigate the bleakness of reality with moments of dark levity.

Also, did I mention that The Wilds was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review on Sunday?

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