IT WOULD BE A LIE to suggest that a story’s premise is paramount to longtime Los Angeles-based writer Jim Krusoe, that his stories pivot around mere ideas or narrative hooks. Evidence gathered in this interview rejects such an idea. That said, Krusoe’s novels lend themselves well to capsule summation. In Iceland, a typewriter repairman picks out a new organ from a nutrient-rich swimming pool and falls in love with the attendant working there. In Girl Factory, a frozen yogurt vendor discovers, in the basement below his store, tanks of women floating in acidophilus-enhanced dormancy, one of whom may be his ex-girlfriend. In Erased, a garden-tool salesman receives a series of postcards from his deceased mother and journeys to Cleveland to find her. In Toward You, an upholsterer labors to build a machine that will communicate with the dead.
These last three novels, dubbed “The Resurrection Trilogy,” concern the space between this life and the next. Like pills, they are deceivingly pastel-colored, things whose ulterior interactions prove to be more complicated.
Krusoe’s latest, Parsifal, resurrects an Arthurian legend that has taken on many forms, including an opera by Richard Wagner. In this novel, a fountain-pen repairman searches to find his own Holy Grail, while the earth and the sky wage war around him. The novel is both a departure and a return for Krusoe. The manic humor of his previous books is more subdued, and it’s his first written in the third-person. However, Krusoe was a poet for decades before turning to fiction. Parsifal is sparse, fragmented, and leaves open spaces between short narrative episodes that flow forward and backward in time.
“After a lifetime, what fragments remain?”
MARCO KAYE: Several years ago, in an interview with Michael Silverblatt, you mentioned writing a novel about “the war between the earth and the sky,” an idea inspired by your son. After finishing it, you realized it didn’t work and shelved it as an “interesting experiment.” Can you talk about returning to this material, and how the Parsifal legend saved it?
JIM KRUSOE: I may have called it “interesting” back then, but what I really meant was terrible. It was a draft that had airships and submarines at perpetual war, and the crewmembers on both factions were nearly identical — why, I was never sure. I have seldom sighed a sigh of relief so deep as when I got to the end, took a step back, and realized it was completely impossible; I would never have to look at it again.
Then, about a month later, I was plunked down on my living room couch, itching to write something, as the prelude to Wagner’s Parsifal came on the radio. So I sat, looking out the front window at the cars passing by and at the guy across the street watering his lawn, and somehow it came to me that the war between the earth and sky wasn’t meant to be foreground, but the backdrop to the Parsifal story. And the core story, after all, was nothing more than that of a child raised in innocence who moves to experience.
MK: This is your first novel written in the third p...read more