Philip Gaber (2013)
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (10/15)
Article first published as Interview: Philip Gaber, Author of ‘Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl’ on Blogcritics.
Philip Gaber spent the better part of his life implementing dogmas with no outside help, and was quite successful at supervising the production of Virgin Mary figurines in Fort Walton Beach, FL. He is the author of two published novels: “Between Eden and the Open Road,” published in 2012 and “Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl,” published in 2014. Philip currently lives in North Carolina.
Susan: Welcome, Philip, and thank you for joining us today. Why don’t you start by telling our readers a bit about yourself?
Philip: I’m just a guy. Lead a very nondescript life. Held a series of totally random odd jobs, somehow just decided to start writing at the age of 8 or 9, maybe younger, who knows? Found out later my mother and father were voracious readers and liked to write, but never pursued it for multiple complex reasons. Probably because they had four kids and a life ahead of them. Maybe it was passed down to me, I don’t know. I was a lousy student. Barely graduated. When I was 20, I moved to L.A., thinking I was going to be some kind of sitcom writer like Mel Tokin [Google him]. Somehow, it didn’t work out. You’re going to have to ask my psychiatrist the whys and wherefores. He’ll probably just look at you and giggle. Mostly I think it has something to do with drive and ambition and the ability to bounce back after being rejected 47,000 times.
Susan: What inspired you to become a writer?
Philip: No idea. It’s a mystery to me. I literally just started writing out of the blue. Found a manual Olympia SM-3 in the attic and just started banging away on the keys. The more I analyze it, it must have been in the genes. A professor in college thought my mother should become a writer and my father was always trying to write a musical in his spare time that never became much of anything.
Susan: What is Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl” about?
Philip: It’s about some of the people I’ve met throughout the course of my life. It’s about how I feel about my life and your life. About being alive, being sad, angry, bitter, confused, joyful, in love, out of love, without a pot to piss in, yearning for hope, praying for solace. It’s about asking for mercy, being granted peace and serenity, forgiveness, help, and healing, not wanting to put in the work, being an underachiever, barely succeeding. Ultimately, it’s about smiling as much as you can, having a good time, laughing every now and then, and, knowing how much I’d appreciate you buying me a bunch of drinks if you were ever to meet me in an airport bar.
Susan: I’m curious as to what ties all these stories together?
Philip: Keeping it moving. Like in Annie Hall when Alvy Singer says, “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.” Same thing with life. As heartbreaking and tragic as it is, you got to keep your life moving forward or else you’re going to be dead very quickly. Figuratively or literally. Learn to identify the things you have control over in your life and focus on those things. Let everything else go. It’s out of your hands.
Susan: I love your wit; there is a certain edge to your writing style that definitely leaves the reader wanting more. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
Philip: They say most writers are really just frustrated actors. To me both books, Between Eden and the Open Road and Epic Sloth are really like scripts for a one-man show. My prose style is very conversational. It all comes from my love for the theater. I began reading plays and listening and memorizing all the comedy albums my parents listened to! Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl, Bob Newhart, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Jonathan Winters, all those guys. So I think all my stories were inspired by them, all the playwrights I read, and just meeting people in my own life.
Susan: What message do you hope to convey to your readers?
Philip: Read the stories, have fun, interpret them on your own terms, however you want to interpret them, and if you feel so compelled and find some kind of message in them, shoot me an email. Pgaber64@yahoo.com and let me know what the message really is. I’m still trying to figure it out.
Susan: What was the hardest part about writing “Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl?”
Philip: Convincing people to read it. That’s been the hardest part. Marketing it. I’ve given up on my friends. They just want to have me committed! But most of them like their politics with a side order of religion, so… whatever… maybe they should be committed. I’m seriously thinking of marketing it to substance abuse and mental health treatment centers. I think they’d really “get me.”
Susan: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
Philip: Watch a lot of movies on Turner Classic Movies, drink a lot of whiskey, try to be an authentic human being, try to stay away from my family.
Susan: Do you have another project in the works? What can you tell us about it?
Philip: I do. Working on longer, more linear story. Not unlike the Bible, only way more concise. Guy comes back from Iraq. In high concept terms:American Sniper meets The Best Years of Our Lives meets Charles Bukowski.
Susan: Do you have a blog and/or website where our readers can follow and correspond with you?
Philip: Just email me. Pgaber64@yahoo.com I’m too lazy to get involved with all that that social media nonsense. Being alone is paradise. Being alone with a bottle of moonshine is heavenly.
Susan: Where can our readers buy “Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl?”
Philip: That site. Just bought a toaster from them. Begins with an “A,” ends with an “N.”
Susan: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers today?
Philip: Absolutely. You ever been on the Deep Web? Oh my God! So amazing. So many interesting things there. Even better than The Walking Dead.You should also enjoy yourself. Have a few drinks every now and then, preferably every day. Listen to Sinatra’s That’s Life at least forty, fifty times a year. Stop worrying. Believe in yourself. Smile 28 times a day. Have a piece of fruit. Take a fiber pill, if necessary. Get up every 10 minutes and walk around. Try to love somebody other than yourself at least once a month, and above all, remember who’s really in charge – your heart. Once it stops beating, you’re a fond memory if you left anyone money, but an afterthought if you left them a trunkful of black and white photographs from your wife’s side of the family, two Popeil Pocket Fisherman, and your collection of Ben Shahn drawings.
Susan: Philip, it has truly been a pleasure having you with us today. Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to seeing more work from you in the future.
Philip: Thanks, Susan, appreciate it.
Read review of Epic Sloth: Tales of the Long Crawl