by Gabino Iglesias
Chris Kelso is one of those dudes who’s simultaneously likable and hard to love. Sure, he’s easy to get along with and always has a smile on his face, but then you read his books and you go “Fuck this guy, I wish I’d written this.” Oh, and he’s also ridiculously prolific and has a presence here in the US despite living in some faraway land known as Glasgow. In any case, he has a new book out, so I thought it was time to ask him some questions and get him to me me his shelves. Here’s what he had to say.
GI: Who are you and what role do books play in your life?
CK: I’m Chris Kelso, a dress-wearing polyglot savant who lives in the Highlands. Books play a crucial part in my life and have done since I was about 14. You can imagine how difficult it was for a remarkably unpopular teenager in parochial Ayrshire to find happiness and contentment. I started throwing myself into books – comics at first then I progressed to distinguished works of fiction soon after. It provided me with, and continues to provide me with, an extreme form of escapism – although my relationship with books, the role they play and the act of reading itself has changed slightly since I embarked upon a ‘writing career’ because recently I feel like I only read to learn my craft, to take notes and to develop as a writer. When I think about it, maybe I don’t read for just so much for escapism these days, which might be quite sad (not that I don’t still take some pleasure from reading).
GI: You’ve published a lot so far and you’re still a young cat. Are there any other hungry youngsters out there who you’d recommend to folks who dig your work?
CK: There are a lot. Most of the writers I know are young cats, I mean Max Booth III is 21 or something! I mean Jesus Christ! I think Preston Grassman, Jason Wayne Allen, Grant Wamack and Michael Allen Rose are all great, Rob Harris is great, Gabino – you’re great. In the other European countries Konstantine Paradias and Michael Faun are both young and hungry and brilliant. Love Kolle can spin a cool yarn too. They write smart transgressive fiction and will, without a doubt, forge long, prestigious careers for themselves.
GI: Is it hard selling books to folks in the US when you’re all the way in Glasgow? How’s the beer over there?
CK: It’s hard selling books anywhere to be honest. People in the US are actually a lot more responsive to my style of nihilistic nonsense than folks in Scotland. I really don’t sell a lot – fortunately the beer over here is radioactive horse piss that gets you good and lousy drunk.
GI: Best stuff you’re read so far in 2014, go!
CK: I’m enjoying Matt Bialer’s epic poem “Ascent” right now, but there are a dozen others I loved. “Time Pimp” by Garrett Cook is up there amongst my favourites with all the golden oldies I raced through this year, like Paul Auster’s “New York Trilogy” and Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon.” I also picked up Leopold Von Sacher Masoch’s classic “Venus in Furs” which I really related to. Actually, I had the pleasure of reading an early proof of Seb Doubinsky’s “WHITE CITY” which is coming out next year…but it’s a cracker!
GI: What’s in this new collection of yours and why should everyone go buy it the second they’re done with this interview?
CK: “Terence, Mephisto and Viscera Eyes“ is a collection of stories set within the Slave State. This is a much more measured and mature effort from me (at least I think so anyway!). There’s a story called ‘Baptizm of Fire’ in there that deals with a dystopian Lagos and the Slave State’s silent puppeteering of the Nigerian University confraternities. It’s much more melancholy than my usual stuff, it has much more heart – which was completely my intention. People should by it because I need to sell books…and I’m a real nice guy…
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at@Gabino_Iglesias