The Foundry is our literary reading series, featuring writers near and far, both established and emerging, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, anything. Our next reading is Saturday, September 9th at The Rose in South Park. Join us for readings by Amelia Gray, Jac Jemc, Emma Smith-Stevens, Skyler McCurine, and today’s feature, Nicholas Bredie.
Nicholas Bredie is the author of the novel Not Constantinople, from Dzanc Books, Summer 2017. With Joanna Howard, he is the translator of Frédéric Boyer’s novella Cows, published by Noemi Press. His writing has appeared in The Believer, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Fairy Tale Review, LitHub, Puerto del Sol, Electric Literature and elsewhere. After living and working in Istanbul, Turkey, he is now in Los Angeles with his wife, Nora Lange.
Not Constantinople is a rich, witty book that is equally as character-driven as it is place-driven as it is plot-driven.
Virginia’s hand found the neck of the Jack Daniel’s protruding from one of the sacks. Wielding the square bottle like a mace, she demanded that the strangers remove themselves. She was like the one animatron in a wax museum, sloshing the liquor in small but sincere strokes while everyone else froze.
“Isn’t that, like, an eighty-dollar bottle?” the man said, unperturbed. “Are you sure you want to waste it on me?”
Here is a delightful Electric Literature interview with Nick by Maureen Moore, a friend who had briefly lived with Nick and his wife, Nora, while they lived in Turkey. The idea of an “ex-pat novel” is rife with preconceived ideas and expectations, and perhaps even derision from a reader, and Nick manages to throw these expectations out of the window. While reading Not Constantinople, this excerpt often came to mind:
MM: Something that contributed to that unsettling feeling was seeing everything about the city written in its American English equivalent. I think I found that to be rare, finding these foreign names of places and things in English. Even one of Turkey’s most famous writers is referred to as Mr. Cotton. I’d love to hear it a little bit about this choice.
NB: I think it is connected to the idea of undermining or disenchanting. Having the names in plain English takes some of the exoticism out of them. There are some linguistic jokes in there too. For example Mr. Cotton’s neighborhood, Orhan Pamuk’s neighborhood, is Nişantaşı. He takes some care explaining the origin of that name in Istanbul, his memoir. It translates as “target stone,” because that was where the Ottomans set up their targets to practice archery and shooting. But Nişantaşı is also the Turkish word for “starch,” and it’s a kind of tony neighborhood, so I translated it as ‘The Starch.’
MM: For the reader, I also felt it further marked Fred and Virginia’s foreignness, as if they didn’t want to call those places by their Turkish names. It further separated them from the expected experience of the place.
NB: When we moved abroad, my uncle who was a foreign correspondent for a number of years said that the most important thing you can do is abandon analogy. To not try and compare, and make your experience fit some preconceived notions. How the characters behave and how they diverge ultimately in the book has to do with how they deal with their expectations of life abroad. In real life it is a situation of extremes: there is no family and no old friends and little language and a host of received notions about the place.
Read the full interview here.
We hope you’ll come join Nick at The Rose wine bar in South Park on Saturday, September 9th for The Foundry reading series. Nick will read alongside Jac Jemc, Amelia Gray, Skyler McCurine, and Emma Smith-Stevens. Stay tuned to learn more about the other readers as we approach the show!
We will also host a master class that afternoon, taught by Jac Jemc, called “Fooling Ourselves (Into Writing).” Work with a fantastic writer for a super bargain price! Scholarships available! For details, or to register, visit here. Spend the entire afternoon with your Foundry readers!
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