INTERVIEW: A Chat with Don Pizarro, Editor of BIBLIOTHECA FANTASTICA
Don Pizarro has been subsisting on red-eyes and gallows humor for forty years. His writing has appeared at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Crossed Genres, Reflection’s Edge, the anthologies Rigor Amortis and Cthulhurotica, and other places. He lives in upstate New York where he pushes paper, plays with knives and Filipino fighting sticks, and is a non-skating official for the local roller derby league. You can find him on his website Warm Fuzzy Freudian Slippers and on Twitter @DonP.
Now, Don sits down for a light chat about the project.
Haralambi Markov: In order to discuss Bibliotheca Fantastica, it’s necessary for the readers to learn more about the project in question. Please explain to us in your own words what Bibliotheca Fantastica is and what does Bibliotheca Fantastica as a title hold?
Don Pizarro: Bibliotheca Fantastica is an anthology of stories about the nature and the power of this construct we call “the book.” Each story explores these issues by using elements of the fantastic. In that sense, the title is descriptive of itself as an artifact, and of the contents within.
HM: Every story in Bibliotheca Fantastica stands their own ground thematically and I found this provided a much interesting variation in reading the anthology. Which themes can you say the anthology explores?
DP: Each story, whether it intends to or not (and the vast majority of them do, I think), looks at every facet of every question you’ve ever heard about the book. Are books dead? What’s the advantage of one form over another? Does a book’s form matter as much as its contents? Does a book’s content matter as much as the meaning a reader ascribes to it? How about vice versa? What other forms can books take?
I’ve missed some questions; go ahead and insert your own. Then read the anthology. Our hope is that you’ll find that I wasn’t speaking rhetorically when I wrote in the introduction that the way that each writer uses elements of the fantastic gives us, if not specific answers, then very possibly, the intersection of all possible answers.
HM: If you could live in any story’s world, which would be and why?
DP: The world of Todd T. Castillo’s “Where Love Is Written.” I’ve always had a soft spot for stories, films, and cartoons where the seemingly inanimate objects you love are in fact alive. And so I’d love to live in a world in which the books I love, some of which have seen me through good and bad times, could actually love me back.
HM: And now for the reverse, which story’s world would you avoid at all costs and why?
DP: At all costs, I’d avoid the world in Gord Sellar’s “The Rite.” This will sound vague but will become clear when you read the story: As a musician, I know the sorts of forces Sellar explores in “The Rite” have a basis in reality, and so the story isn’t as fantastic (i.e. grounded in fantasy) to me as some of the others. It’s downright terrifying.
HM: As I read the stories, I could sense an unwritten warning about the power of books. When it comes to books with magical properties, what’s more dangerous – the book or the reader?
DP: That’s a false dichotomy I think, and here’s why. Think about the phrase, “Guns don’t kill people….” There are three ways to finish it: (a) “people do,” (b) “bullets do,” or (c) “Actually no, guns do kill people.” However you answer it, if you take away any one of those elements (Let’s swap: (a) the reader, (b) the book’s content, (c) the book-as-object), there just isn’t as much danger as there is when all the elements are combined.
Combine them, and the danger is practically limitless!
HM: Do such warnings apply to books in the real world? Just how applicable are the lessons learned in Bibliotheca Fantastica in our reality?
DP: The lessons translate precisely, as far as I’m concerned. Knowledge–its discovery, its documentation, its compilation, its extrapolation, its creation, its application–is power, and that power can make people do some strange and terrible things.
In this context, what’s the real difference between The Necronomicon and, say, The Anarchist’s Cookbook? Or a collection of The Federalist Papers? The Communist Manifesto? Any religious text? A Neuro-linguistic Programming text? A written-by-the-winners history book?
Any of these books can, for better or worse, shape or destroy worlds–and us with them!
Filed under: Interviews
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