What is the last novel that you read that took your breath away?
The Instructions, by Adam Levin. It concerns a young and volatile and tender and maybe insane genius who feels he might be the Messiah. It’s the loveliest thing I’ve read in ten years.
What artist’s music makes you feel inspired to write?
Tom Waits. Only two things in my life make me laugh and cry at the same time—my daughter and “The Piano’s Been Drinking.”
What are your three favorite films of all time? Discuss each of them a little bit.
The Wrath of Khan directed by Nicholas Meyers
I once described this movie as more Shakespearean than Shakespeare, and although I was kind of making fun of the whole thing, there is something so hugely compelling about a space opera in which friendship plays out with photon torpedoes and revenge-served-cold and very, very lethal ear wigs. And I was raised on this stuff; my dad and I used to watch the original episodes (which he fell in love with while courting my mother) and WoK brings it all together for me in a way that I could discuss for hours.
Habla Con Ella (Talk to Her) directed by Pedro Almodovar
This story is about the full spectrum of love. The elation, the moments that make us feel immortal, the awful things we’re willing to do to achieve connection. When I saw it the first time I decided that Almodovar had a cameo as the guy who released the bull who almost killed one of the heroines—she was a bullfighter, and for just a second, you can glimpse the short, chunky guy who opens the gate that releases the bull into the arena. That bull changes the whole course of the movie, and if I could choose a cameo in any movie I’ve ever seen, it would be that one, because that is the director, the writer, the artist: one who knocks shapes into conflict.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? directed by the Cohen brothers
It’s good, all of it, the superimposing of mythic structure on our own myth of images—the Depression Era, the three escapees, the devil, the town disappearing under an apocalypse of water… But the moment that the gravediggers stand aside and sing death to the travelers—that’s perfect. That should be every funeral.
What is a concert that you saw in person that you will never forget?
Fishbone. I was about 18. A rudeboy whipped me with a motorcycle chain.
Complete this sentence: “If I were to teach a course on the works of one author, that author would be…”
Philip K. Dick.
Michael Buckley’s work has appeared in the Southern California Review, Vulcan, Struggle, and he is a regular contributor to both Alaska Quarterly Review and Spot Lit Journal. His work has also appeared in the national anthology The Best American Non Required Reading 2003, and he is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Transcurrent Literary Journal.