Do these things really exist?
I hope not.
Is it like Fight Club with knives?
No, but I understand the comparison. For me Fight Club was about reclaiming the human spirit. My book’s about a guy and something terrible that happened to him years before. He goes to these knife fights because he needs to repeat history in order to move on.
Move on in which sense?
Did what happened to him years before involve knives?
It involved knives and it involved having to make a choice which was worse than death.
Is repeating history in order to overcome it a theme in a lot of your writing?
It is. In Cut it’s not just repeating history, in a larger sense it’s about reversing history.
You’ve got a lot of historical references woven into the narrative. Andrew Jackson, the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alexander Hamilton? Is that part of the metaphor?
If there’s a metaphor, it ties in to the reversal, or denial of history, sure. In the novel, the Creeks win the recreated beach battle against Jackson’s army and force the Americans to push west. Jackson dies in a duel. He fought in and won over a hundred of them. In real life he died from Tuberculosis. The main character is also trying to reverse his own history by participating in knife fights. He believes this is how he should have died all those years ago. Then the more he tries to reverse or revise things, the more these things repeat themselves. It finds him every time. That’s the thing.
That sounds horrible.
It is horrible.
In the novel, the guys that hold the knife fights film the fights and try to sell the videos online. Is this the next step in reality television?
I used to think that way. I grew up watching movies like The Running Man, before reality TV. Movies like that made you think will the future really be like that. But my guess is reality TV will go in the other direction, toward the mundane, so that you’ll have shows like Sitting in Traffic and The Post Office. Tuesday’s episode: the sort room. Just mirrors of reality.
You directed your own book trailer for Cut. How was that?
It was fun, and sort of freeing in a way.
Because I wrote the book alone in a room. The short film and the trailers were collaborative. I didn’t feel beholden to the book. Characters emerged that weren’t in the novel. The ones that were in the novel revealed themselves more.
So you’re an author and a filmmaker?
The word you’re looking for is unemployed.
If you could compare the job of the writer to any other job, what would it be?
You have to love and forgive all your characters, even the ones who do terrible things.
Are you working on a new novel?
Yes, it’s about a werewolf. A regular guy with a family’s been bitten and he goes through the cycle over thirty days while a policeman tries to figure out who it’s in before the full moon.
Does it also have a history repeating itself theme?
The title is History of the Werewolf.
I can’t wait to read it.
So it’s not exactly breaking news that Cut isn’t for everyone. You know that though right?
So what do you say to people? ‘I’m Adam and I wrote a book about knife fighting that’s seriously disturbing, here, look at my cover it’s got blood all over it and everything?’
I’m not very good at this part. I’m just grateful someone thought it should exist as a book. I think it will speak to certain people. I also think people who pick it up will read the entire thing, even the people who don’t care for this type of fiction.
It’s true, the layout is very, how do you say it: unburdensome. It reads fast. And it’s less than a hundred and fifty pages.
It’s not all as dark and horrible as it sounds. It’s a funny book. I think certain people will find parts very funny. I hope they do.
ADAM CUSHMAN‘s short stories have appeared in The Ampersand Review, Trop, The St. Petersburg Review, El Portal and elsewhere. He teaches fiction writing at Writing Workshops Los Angeles and is the President of Red 14 Films. His novel CUT releases in April 2014 from Black Mountain Press.