An Interview about Cartilage and Skin

AK: Are you concerned that your main character’s tenuous teaching status, or his status as an “intellectual,” will have a negative impact on how universities treat contingent faculty and how society treats “intellectuals” in general? Or will his marginal employment have a negative impact on how the marginally employed (millions of people in contemporary America) are viewed?

MJR: I’m not concerned at all.  My narrator is a smart guy who suggests that he has no soul, that he is just a body, or cartilage and skin.  In his hands, this is a disturbing idea, yet there are plenty of respectable people who hold the same view and remain quite undisturbed.  They get a lot of intellectual mileage out of the idea, and the idea is very good at feeding egos and puffing people up.  Yet my narrator is not one to wave his hand haughtily at the mass of people who do believe in a soul.  Also, he is not a public intellectual; he’s barely a private one.  He doesn’t speak for anyone; he’s not a representative person.  He is more of an aberration, like Rodion Raskolnikov.  Whatever impact he may have on contingent faculty, intellectuals, or the poor will be purely incidental and lack any lasting importance.  His goal is to be blotted from the annals of humanity.

Read the full interview with Alex Kudera here: When Falls the Coliseum



Michael James Rizza has an MA in creative writing from Temple University in Philadelphia and a PhD in American Literature from the University of South Carolina. He has published academic articles on Don DeLillo, Milan Kundera, Harold Frederic, and Adrienne Rich. His award winning novel Cartilage and Skin was published by Starcherone Books in November 2013. His short fiction has appeared in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, Switchback, and Curbside Splendor. He has won various awards for his writing, including a fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts and the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction. His scholarly monograph entitled The Topographical Imagination of Jameson, Baudrillard, Foucault, is forthcoming with Davies Group, Publishers. He is currently at work on a funny, fast paced, literary novel called Domestic Men’s Fiction. He teaches at Kean University. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Robin and their son Wilder, who was named after a character in DeLillo’s White Noise.

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