Author Mo Daviau Debuts Every Anxious Wave at BookPeople
A love-wracked tale of time travel and bands to spin you right ‘round
By Wayne Alan Brenner,
8:00AM, Tue. Feb. 9, 2016
Because wouldn’t it be great if there was some way to go back in time and catch that one legendary show you missed by the band whose music pretty much saved your miserable life when you were young?
So maybe somebody’s discovered a sort of temporal wormhole in their shitty apartment’s closet. And maybe this somebody-with-the-wormhole runs a bar in Chicago but also used to be the guitarist for a formerly big deal in the alt-music world.
And maybe this somebody is gonna accidentally send his best friend to the wilderness of Manhattan Island long before the giant sloths were extinct, and when this somebody enlists the aid of a young punk physicist whose hefty feminine corpus displays a tattoo of the same Elliott Smith lyric that he’s got a tattoo of, maybe the various timestreams of past, present, and future are going to wind up as basically fucked as the connections of their yearning hearts.
That’s what’s going on, in a nutshell blurb, in Mo Daviau’s Every Anxious Wave, the first novel from the former Austinite who now spends most of the year’s days and nights in Portland.
Note: Portland, Oregon, yes; not Portland, Maine.
And here in Austin, Texas, Daviau’s presenting Every Anxious Wave at BookPeople this Wednesday night at 7pm – where she’ll also be interviewed by your reporter, where her friend Abe Louise Young will brighten the event with verse, where there will be some tasty local beer served up straight from the keg.
In advance of this event, dig it: A brief interview on topics relevant to the author’s genre-flouting inaugural narrative.
W.A. Brenner: You have any tattoos yourself?
Mo Daviau: I have two, both acquired in the last eighteen months, both upon my thighs. On my left thigh is my in-honor-of-Austin tattoo, which is the Eye Bat drawn by Daniel Johnston that used to be on the wall next to the Hi How Are You frog (also known as Jeremiah the Innocent) on 21st Street. When I first arrived in Austin in 2000, I walked past the mural on the side of Sound Exchange every day on my way to classes at UT and was sad when the Eye Bat got covered over with that ugly aluminum siding stuff. On my right thigh is an antique fountain pen, to symbolize my avocation as a writer.
Brenner: If you could have intervened in their deaths somehow, could have done something – like, maybe provided, I don't know, professional counseling or meds or something? If you could have done something effective toward convincing them that it was worthwhile to go on living and creating ... but you had to choose just one? Who would you save? Kurt Cobain or Elliott Smith?
Daviau: That’s actually a really hard question. I live in Portland now, and here you’ll meet people who knew Elliott the same way you can go down to Threadgill’s and meet people who knew Janis Joplin. They way these people talk about Elliott and Janis is sort of like their deaths were trains they couldn’t stop. And this choice of Elliott over Kurt is based on whose music I love more, and my attachment is in Elliott’s favor, though I think Kurt and I would have had more to talk about. They were both geniuses whose early deaths remain enormous losses to music. Janis’s, too. I also like the idea of Elliott Smith and David Foster Wallace making big-budget buddy cop films in heaven, but if all of these people could still be down here with us, that would be the best outcome.
Brenner: “Love stinks.” What makes that statement true or false?
Daviau: Pheromones are no joke. You are not going to want to get down and dirty with someone who smells bad to you. But that’s only one kind of love. There are a lot of people in this world I love, mostly not in the pheromone-involving way, but for all the noble, platonic reasons of connection and common interest, and having them in my life makes me feel happy and safe. So in that way, “love stinks” is false. “Love Stinks” could also be AXE body product’s marketing slogan before they shut down their manufacturing facility, much to the relief of everyone.
Brenner: And finally – until I throw a bunch more questions at you on Wednesday night at BookPeople – why spend the time and effort required for writing a novel when you could've spent it on any number of other things?
Daviau: On an hourly basis, I’ve probably spent more time sleeping and on the toilet than I did on the novel. Lifetime accrual of sleep and potty time vs. writing: Ooh, let’s say 15:1, easy. I may only write one or two more novels, but I will spend many more hours sleeping and on the toilet, and as I get older and less mobile, maybe even sleeping on the toilet. Why do we assign value to certain human activities but not to others? No one is proud of falling asleep on the toilet, but publishing a book is something we all agree is an accomplishment of note. In a hundred years, we’ll all be dead, but my novel will still be on the shelf. And it probably won’t make any sense to people in a hundred years. Maybe in 2116, someone will walk into a literature distribution capsule, point at my novel and say, “That Daviau should have spent more time hugging sheep and hand-embroidering tea towels.” Now I’m angry.