Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Waiting for the Man

Waiting for the Man, by Arjun Basu © 2014, ECW Press

Joe is in his mid-30s. He is in advertising and does quite well at it, laying claim to successful beer, beans, and dog food campaigns. Everything Joe attempts, turns out right.

But one day he wakes up in a panic. He's 35 and life somehow appears meaningless. He can get any girl he wants, but is single. He is surrounded by people daily, but is without real friends. His family loves him from afar. He's good at his job, which pays the bills, but at the end of the day, it all leaves him empty.

Until a voice in his head tells him to wait. So he does.

So began a vision quest that took Joe from the streets of high-profile New York to middle-of-nowhere Montana. The voyage holds much soul-searching, questions about what life is all about, and debate about if we are supposed to find meaning in it all. Joe is a cynic and his journey isn't easy. For one, there is a mini van. And lots of bad pizza. Showers and sleep are minimal.

Sounds like the making of any great adventure, right?

Are you interested in learning more? How about a few words from the author, Arjun Basu himself? I had the pleasure of asking him a few questions. Here is what he has to say about "Waiting for the Man" and the writing process that went along with it.

  1. How long did it take you to write the first draft of “Waiting for the Man”? How long was the editing phase? When it came time to publish it, did you debate self-publishing or insist on the traditional route of a publishing company? What made you decide to use ECW Press?        ~ AB: The first draft was written so long ago, it's hard to properly answer the question. The story behind getting this story out is long and arduous. It involves probably 10 drafts, a huge rethinking of the story after draft 4, the discarding of two complete threads (and one major character, almost a co-narrator), and really winnowing this thing down to its essence. It also involves 4 agents (!) and, yes, a time when I was considering self-publishing so that I could move on and get with my life and my writing. But then ECW stepped up, and I was "given" a great editor in Emily Schultz and we worked really well together - she saw a fully realized work but then made it that much more complete. 
  2. 2.       Many people speculate throughout the book as to who “The Man” actually is, i.e. God, Jesus, a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Taoist, Buddhist, etc. His omnipotence is what attracts people to Joe’s story, but is he any of these things? As much as his presence is the driving force in Joe’s journey that begins in New York, his time in Montana is devoid of any influence from The Man. So what role did The Man actually have in Joe’s story?
           ~ AB: That speculation is valid and is even brought up in the book itself. But because The Man is in Joe's head (and only his head), he/it gets imprinted with a lot of meaning by a lot of people. And Joe being an advertising guy, probably sees a certain irony in his situation, sure, but on some level he also understands that his story is not his at all, that all stories are given meaning by those receiving it, and that we all interpret stories to suit us. I don't know that Joe gives up on The Man, but he sees everything for what it is. In Montana, The Man is already in his rear view mirror. And perhaps he/it ends up being Joe's inner voice just telling him to find something, anything, and get out of the rut he finds in New York.
    3.       Have you ever gone on a “vision quest” or done any extreme soul searching of your own? Why and what was its outcome?
           ~ AB: I've gone on road trips. When I was younger I went on road trips every summer - some of those memories made their way into the book. I've never gone on a vision quest, per se, though some journeys seems to become a kind of vision quest. My desire to write was the result of a lot of baby steps growing up, but when I was 18, I left home and hung out in Banff for 6 months and when I returned home I realized I was going to write. I didn't head out West with that goal, it just happened. Was that a vision quest?
    4.       Joe has an interesting relationship with people. He is a self-proclaimed womanizer and has a decided lack of connection with anyone. So how is it that he was picked by “The Man” for this journey? Do you think that we all have a little piece of “Joe” in us? How did this affect his relationship with characters in the parallel story in Montana?
           ~ AB: The Man doesn't so much pick Joe as Joe picks The Man. At least that's how I see it. There's probably some deep self-improvement mumbo-jumbo in that statement. But I don't see Joe as anti-social as much as he's a bit numbed by modern life. That doesn't make him unique.
    5.       Were you changed by the writing of this book? Do you have any other books in the making?
            ~ AB: I don't know that I was changed by the writing but it's possible that I was changed by the process. I wrote this book at the same time as a huge shift in the publishing industry. It was amazing to see such change occur while I was writing. In a way, it shifted my goals, but in the end, my goal, my primary goal, remained the same. And now my goal is to finish my next novel. I've started writing it. My only hope is it doesn't take as long to write as Waiting for the Man.

Thank you so much for sharing Arjun! Myself and my readers appreciate your thoughts and time. 

This review/author interview/giveaway is part of a book tour promoted by ECW Press. Words of Mystery started off the tour last Monday, but please take the time to visit the other bloggers on the tour.

Thursday, May 1st - Words of Mystery Tour kickoff & review
Monday, May 5th - Buried in Print - Review
Tuesday, May 6th - A New Day - Review & giveaway
Wednesday, May 7th - The Book Stylist - Review
Thursday, May 8th - bookgaga - Review
Friday, May 9th - A Bookworm’s World - Review & giveaway

~~~
So, does this put you in mind of any journeys of your own? Have you broken with the status quo, even for a moment, to dip a little deeper into what life is all about? Would you care to escape life's confines to travel along with Joe, as he stops and waits for the Man? Tell me about your own soul searching moment and you will be entered into a contest to win your own copy of "Waiting for the Man" by Arjun Basu. The folks at ECW Press were good enough to send me a copy to review, plus included an extra just for YOU!

All I want to know is a little bit about your own experience with "The Man". Share this contest with your friends, followers and whomever might be on a vision quest of their own. I look forward to your answers!

In the interim, feel free to watch the trailer about the book below. And don't forget to dig deep for your existential dreams to share with me...



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