Today we're talking with Philip Gaber, author of Between Eden and the Open Road
FQ: I was immediately intrigued to read your work once I read the dedication: "This book is for those to whom it speaks." I interpreted the sentiment as a challenge to the reader to keep reading. Was that your intent?
I don't really understand the creative process. It's personal and subjective and based so much on personal preferences and sensibilities. Itís interesting, even those who have reviewed the book have focused on different themes and aspects of the stories, and thatís been fascinating for me. I never know how somebody is going to react to the book. I guess thatís why I left the dedication so open ended and nonspecific. My hope is that the book will find an audience; I'm just not exactly sure who those audience members are.
FQ: There seems to be a wealth of subject matter to expound upon in your collection of poems. Have you ever thought about broadening your horizons and taking one your poems and writing a book? If so, which of your poems would you select?
Other people have suggested I expand some of the stories. I have not really thought about it, because to me the stories pretty much stand alone, are snapshots, caricatures. I suspect someday I will challenge myself to write a longer, more linear narrative and it will likely include many of the themes currently residing in Between Eden and the Open Road. We writers have a tendency of revisiting the same old haunts again and again, thinking maybe we'll get it right the next time.
FQ: I was taken with your poem: "his indestructible human spirit." You paint the association between alcoholism and the nuance of great writers being drinkers. In particular, the statement: "A lot of defining moments that build or break your character happen in a blink of an eye..." Would you share one of your experiences when this has occurred?
So much of the dialogue in the book has either been imagined or outright cribbed from other people! Thatís probably the case with that particular line! I know there are people who say things like that and really do believe in those sort of pseudo aphorisms. I, personally, have never experienced any kind of an "Ah-hah!" moment like that. Maybe I need to spend some time under a Bodhi tree!
FQ: While many of the situations in your poems were somewhat dark, pity never came to mind toward the character(s). Rather, the delivery was more of a "matter-of-fact," "this is how it is." Was this your intent in the delivery and if you detected observation(s) of pity from your readership how would you respond?
Neil Simon has a wonderful line in Jakeís Women about self-pity being a no-no on stage but very comforting in life. Iíve been told I have very fatalistic outlook and thatís true. I try not to complain too much or publicize my grievances or excessively wallow in my slights. So, yes, it was certainly my intent to present the material in a ďmatter-of-fact/this is how it isĒ manner. I definitely wasn't trying to invite anyone to a pity party. Ultimately the book's message is about self-preservation and resilience.
FQ: I noticed you did not include a biography. Would you mind sharing a bit about yourself?
Born into a working-class family and raised in a small town in northwestern Connecticut called New Hartford. Caught the writing bug early, probably around 7 or 8. Classic underachiever! Some still believe that. Held a lot of different jobs. Have lived in Los Angeles, New York, currently reside in North Carolina where I work for a nonprofit agency.
FQ: In your poem: "between eden and the open road" the simple one-liner: "That's where I'll find you" was brilliant. Please describe where "between Eden and the open road" is for you?
Life! It's everything that's happened since birth and everything that will happen from this day forward.
FQ: I sense a fair amount of feelings of disappointment from the many characters in your work. Why the "glass half empty" for so many of them?
As the Buddhists say, life is full of suffering and pain. Often its challenges seem absolutely insurmountable and it becomes quite a mind trick to be able to keep all those negative thoughts at bay. Got to side with George Carlin on this one. The glass is "twice as big as it needs to be."
FQ: In "how can I possibly put the last two years of my life with you into words" there seems to be bitterness: "...There are a lot of people out there who pretend to have all the answers. If I could make them feel the way I feel during the lowest of my lows for one week. Just one week, that would be the sweetest revenge I could ever imagine because there are a lot of people out there who think Iím just crying victim here..." What is your definition of a victim?
Good question. I believe we're all susceptible to that victim mentality. It's very easy to fall into that state of mind of feeling totally acted upon and helpless and hopeless and what's the point? Thatís my definition and Iíve certainly fallen into that trap from time to time. What usually prevents me from going too far off the deep end is knowing that this too shall pass. Hopefully!
FQ: This was a thought-provoking read for me. Are you working on anything new and if so, would you be willing to share?
I've finished a second compilation of stories which are similar to the stories in Between Eden and the Open Road. It looks like I may even have enough material for a third book. The result of writing for nearly forty years! After that I hope to venture into something else. I've always been interested in film and theater. Even a children's book. We'll see.