Flying high

By CLEA SIMON  |  June 2, 2008

A trapped possum figures prominently in Bennie’s life. Is he any safer than that possum?
Bennie is obviously a guy who never had refuge at home. He never had that kind of safety when his mother was taking him to find her own ideal of refuge in Mexico or wherever, and that’s his great failing: always believing that life is elsewhere. At the end, he’s come to the reckoning that he’s not going to get another life. He has to make his life from what he’s got.

Is that why he changes the ending of the book he’s translating?
That’s the great lesson he learns. His life is not a fixed text and he can change the ending on his own life, just as he’s doing on this novel.

Have you gotten any response from American Airlines?
I haven’t, and I keep checking my frequent-flier miles and they’re still there. They haven’t wiped them out yet. When Houghton Mifflin purchased the book, they said, we have to send it to legal. And I had this panic attack. If you take American Airlines out, it’s taking out not the main character, but close. I was terrified, but it’s okay. Kinky Friedman may have paved the way for using brand names in novels. I think it was Elvis, Jesus & Coca-Cola, and there’s nothing cooler than falling under the Kinky Friedman precedent.

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