Art and murder mix in `Lo Mein'
By MARY ANNE LEWIS
The following is an excerpt of an interview with Robert Eringer:
Q. What inspired you to write "Lo Mein?"
A. A variety of disparate influences, a balance of caffeine and alcohol, a dash of lunacy. And a brief newspaper article about the dangers of eating squirrel brains.
"After rejection number 45, Stukey began a countdown inside his Soho loft." Willard Stukey is a painter. Moreover, he is a creative genius entitled to much fame and success. Rejection simply does not belong in his vocabulary, and he would never think to apply it to himself. But his first painting is not received well, nor his second, nor his third — until he swears to himself that after the 50th rejection, he will switch media and thereby achieve the glory he so deserves and embodies. He will deposit his genius into other arenas. He will devote himself to fulfilling his destiny as an artistic master. He will make the public recognize his superlative talent.
Willard Stukey, mass murderer, famous American celebrity, began his career in Walt Disney World!
That is correct, ladies and gents. Stukey has found a new medium: killing people. Now he must explore form. How does one perform the perfect killing; how does one bring about the divine ending? Form, after all, is of utmost importance — especially in one's masterpiece — THE grand finale. Kill somebody and fulfill rule number one in the art world: "Stir emotion." Fulfill rule number one in the art world and watch the art collectors knock down your door just to speak to you. Willard Stukey is preparing himself to break records. Willard Stukey has a plan.
Meet "Lo Mein," a novel by Robert Eringer, who was once upon a time a non-fiction writer and who now writes highly-creative novels. This pastime amuses him while simultaneously earning him money. Journalism did not suffice in providing the haven that he sought for his imaginings. And so he switched to a more inviting prospect — the novel, as defined by Eringer. He loves what he does and hopes his readers grasp such mirth from his writing.
In his most recent book, "Lo Mein: A Novel," Eringer's imaginative, zany and provocative flare for the distortion of reality comes through magnificently, striking the reader at odd, but somehow wonderful, intervals.
Somewhat like the author himself, "Lo Mein's" principal character, Willard Stukey, has decided to change his career a bit. This explains his decision to perform innovative murders rather than paint. The former does, after all, require more thought and preparation, provide more risk and excitement and receive more attention than the latter profession.
"`I had to,' snapped Stukey. `No one was paying any attention. My act of violence made them sit up, take notice. Sometimes desperate measures are necessary.'
`You have a hang-up about that?'
`Like, me and society in general, man.'
Stukey looked straight ahead, annoyed by this simpleton."
Stukey soon finds himself having to watch his back, for a Bruce Willis look-alike-Tourette's syndrome-ridden former FBI agent — hired by a worried and anxious Disney chairman — makes it his personal mission to capture the nation's hottest criminal celebrity. Jeff Dalkin is the name of that agent, and he and Stukey make for quite a pair.
In his own way, Eringer takes on the role of painter as he portrays a bizarre world with bright and flashing colors, vivid action and the insanity of wisdom.
"Lo Mein" is a book that will make one laugh and wonder about this crazy world. Eringer ensures that the reader takes on the role of writer while reading the book, for he leaves ideas and paths wide-open throughout the novel. The reader provides the answers to questions concerning priorities, pop culture, art and humanity.
Finally, in the words of Robert Eringer:
"Eventually everyone died. Life went on.
"Three hundred years later, Willard Stukey was recognized as the greatest artist of his time.
The novel is currently available. See the publisher's website, http://www.corinthianbooks.com, for additional publicity information.
All Scene Stories for Monday, May 1, 2000