David Burr Gerrard Talks with Maxwell Neely-Cohen about The Epiphany Machine

By on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017 at 10:42 am

David Burr Gerrard reads THE EPIPHANY MACHINE at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn

David Burr Gerrard was at Community bookstore last month to launch his novel The Epiphany Machine. He discussed the book with Maxwell Neely-Cohen, author of Echo of the Boom.

The Epiphany Machine follows the conflicts created when a machine tattoos revelations onto the arms of users. Its a unique premise that Gerrard began thinking about more than a decade ago when he wrote a story inspired by Kafka’s In The Penal Colony. He soon decide he wanted the machine to include a needle, though he didn’t necessarily know the machine would produce a tattoo. Initially, the epiphanies were printed on blocks of wood.

Seeking out prophetic information is nothing new. The internet has changed how this information is distributed, Gerrard observes, with advice on how best to live your life bombarding us all the time in what he describes as a cacophony of advice.

“I’m still looking for that next article that is going to solve everything,” he jokes.

“I’m influenced by everything I read in various ways,” he says citing Philip Roth and declaring Roth was once considered weird, but isn’t now.

When he was writing the book, he was worried it was too dark. He wondered if everything he had supposed was wrong–and then the election happened. As dark as his book was, it didn’t seem as dark as the real world.

We allow terrible things to go on all the time, he says: “a lot of us our shit heads.”

Gerrard claims his favorite form of procrastination is reading political articles and getting angry at them. It isn’t just Donald Trump that infuriates him. He says it was people like George W. Bush who laid the groundwork for everything Donald Trump is doing today.

There is an intense conflict between baby boomers and later generations, he observes. They hang as a shadow over everything, and he tried to make longer generational flaws out of that.

Although the machine produces tattoos on his characters, Gerrard doesn’t actually have one. “I’m terrified of needles,” he says before adding that he also worries about hating whatever tattoo he would get six months after having inked across his body.

Tattoos really are about choosing how to alter your body. The machine is the opposite of that.

David Burr Gerard and Maxwell Neely-Cohen
Tuesday July 18, 2017
Community Bookstore

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