WEliam Brewer, 33, is the author of I know your type (2017), A collection of poems about poverty and drug addiction in West Virginia, where he was born and raised. Chosen for Prestigious National Poetry Series In the United States, he was cited as the inspiration of Ocean FongIt was described by New York The Journal of America’s Opioid Crisis Award-Winning Poet. Psychiatry, debt, and quantum gravity were among the themes of his first novel, red arrowNarrated by a troubled ghost writer who urgently searches for a vanishing Italian physicist who must hand over his diary. Brewer, who teaches creative writing at Stanford UniversityHe spoke to me via Zoom from Oakland, California, his home since 2016.
where red arrow the beginning?
I really started writing in 2019 after I finally went through psychedelic treatment for the depression that has dominated my life for so long. I was able to write in a way I had never done before because my mind was so cloudy. Therapy showed me all the ways depression managed the symptom. It was hard to realize the extent to which the disease had allowed me to harm the people I cared about. I had a dose of psilocybin mushrooms at 10am, and by 4.30pm it felt like a 50-pound tumor had been torn off my back. I wanted to carry this energy into writing.
red arrow It is not a book about drugs, but it attempts to capture certain qualities of the narcotic experience, one of which is the complete destruction of sin. A lot of times when people try to write about it, they write incoherent and distracting text, like something from the era of beats, but the psychedelic experience can actually be very straightforward: it’s not so much a crazy, crazy light show as an elegant suggestion of how things are related. Psilocybin, in particular, gives you that real sense of momentum, and I wanted that for the book.
Is this why the narrator is put on a high-speed train for most of it?
Yes, I wanted a sound that felt pushed, and so did I had a very simple idea to put it into something that was literally moving quickly through space. When I showed the book to a friend after writing it, he mentioned District [a novel by Mathias Énard, also narrated during a train journey through Italy], which I still haven’t read. My narrator is on an Italian train because I was going there myself. I didn’t even know”Freccia Rosa” [Italy’s high-speed train service] It means “red arrow”. All the physics and time arrow related things in the book were a happy coincidence. I am against planning. I follow everything that comes, let the pages fill up, and then, when I’m editing, I start noticing links I would never have consciously imagined.
The plot is driven by the protagonist’s need to repay a lot of money …
I don “t think so who – whichIt’s an accident. I didn’t plan to write about debt, but someone in their thirties in America would put that on their mind; It occupies a lot of our minds. I have student debt and so do most people I know. Debt seems to be the engine of our economy: it is ubiquitous here. I’m fascinated by it as something we do for ourselves, and that the world is asking us to do it for ourselves – and making us do it for ourselves.
How do you feel about the title of “America’s Opioid Crisis Award-Winning Poet”?
I have no interest in being the poet laureate of anything. People write stuff and that’s fine – I’m not bothered by that, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to think about these things. poems in I know your type Certainly about the opioid epidemic, but it’s a book about how the opioid epidemic in West Virginia is but one version of the industrial exploitation happening to a part of the world over and over again. And in the same way that my home state was almost completely registered, and then completely plundered by coal mining, this was just another version of the industry coming in and taking advantage of a place and you know no one really noticed for a long time.