Recently, I sat down with myself to talk about my new novel, Robert Walker.
Why Robert Walker?
An imaginary conversation by its author with its author.
Corey: Why the story of a homeless man in Memphis?
Corey: Well, we certainly have our share. Like most great American cities post-Reagan.
Corey: Is this a political screed then? What does Reagan have to do with your story?
Corey: I don’t know. Someone told me that Reagan’s heartlessness cast a lot of folks who needed psychiatric treatment onto the streets. I don’t pretend to understand it.
Corey: So, really, Robert Walker. Why him?
Corey: Robert is myself if not for the grace of God. Robert is any man who suddenly finds himself alone and dispossessed and destitute. Robert walks a path only slightly off the beaten one, a parallel but darker path.
Corey: Did you write this out of some kind of personal responsiveness? Do you in fact know anyone who is homeless?
Corey: I don’t. And I don’t want to suggest that I grasp all, or even most, of the hardships.
Corey: So, Robert is a sympathetic character. His author loves him?
Corey: I started this poignant tale with the idea that Robert would be a sort of Lemuel Pitkin character; already homeless, he wakes one morning with Bell’s palsy and loses control of half his face. I thought it would be entertaining to have everything fall away from him for our delectation. He would walk the world and loses bits of himself, piece by piece, so to speak.
Corey: But that’s not the story you wrote.
Corey: Correct. Robert chastened me. He is a gentle soul and is surrounded by other gentle souls. The characters in Robert Walker became dear to me early on and I wanted to do well by them. I wanted their voices heard and I wanted empathy to grow from that, not only in the reader but in myself.
Corey: Are you generally the guy who opens his wallet to any panhandler?
Corey: I am not. I’m torn about it, too. I honestly don’t know the best thing to do. Plus I don’t have a lot of money. Plus I am notoriously cheap.
Corey: Robert’s peripatetic two day journey in the novel is like a veritable map of modern Memphis.
Corey: Right, but I don’t know what peripatetic means.
Corey: Walking around.
Corey: Ah, yes. I wrote it with a map of Memphis next to me. Then the wife and I took a driving tour of Robert’s walk, noting specific places and mixing in the hoodoo verisimilitude. It’s not just Robert’s story. It’s also a hymn to my city, which I love the way Adam loved Eden.
Corey: Before the snake.
Corey: And after. I recognize the snake. The snake is part of the tapestry.
Corey: Ok, then. Thank you for your time.
Corey: My pleasure. Buy the book.