When I first met Garret K. Woodward, it was likely on the starting line of a high school cross-country running race somewhere in the North Country.
I use the word "likely" because, well, I can't say for sure when and where I met Garret. I'm working with the odds, and this seems like a safe bet.
But I can say with 100 percent certainty that when a wild-haired, handlebar-mustached Garret walked through the door at the Blue Moon Cafe earlier this month, he was very different from the lanky, clean-cut high school kid I met some 13 years ago.
Garret K. Woodward reminisces on life and writing during a Jan. 6 interview at the Blue Moon Cafe in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
Garret, who's from Plattsburgh, is the author of "Bumblef**k," a 78-page account of his life between Dec. 9, 2006, to Jan. 19, 2007. He's also a journalist, having worked for a weekly newspaper in Idaho and a bevy of music publications across the Northeast.
The book was released last year, and it gives readers an intimate, and at times intense, glimpse into Garret's life at the time. In ways, it's a life a lot of 20-somethings can relate to: misgivings about graduating from college, problems with the opposite sex, concerns about family life, partying, traveling, etc. The difference here is Garret's willingness to talk about all of it. This book, in short, is more about the guts than the glory.
The following are excerpts of an interview I did with Garret on Jan. 6 in Saranac Lake.
CM: What drove you to write this book?
GKW: I was living out in Idaho. I started pulling out these journals from my last year in college, and for a long time I thought they were really sophmoric. They had this naive optimism. Then I realized that those journals were a voice I could never get back. If I wrote those stories now, certain things would be forgotten, or glorifed or misconstrued. And I looked at them, and I realized there was this voice there. That voice was a time period, and I felt that was the appropriate way to kick things off.
CM: When did you start writing?
GKW: Ever since I was a little kid, I always loved to ask adults questions. I'd be like 4, 5, 6 or 7 years old, I would meet an adult and talk to them like an adult. I always asked them questions like "Why are you wearing that?" or "Where are you from?" or "What do you do for work?" I was always fascinated by what people did, or how people lived their lives ... or what was the journey that you took that brought you to this point where we're crossing paths ... When I went to college, I had aspirations to be an MTV VJ (video jockey). This is when TRL ("Total Request Live") was cool. I thought it'd be great to work in Times Square, live in Manhattan, be on TV. And slowly that aspiration started to fade. I started to explore more, and I started to write.
CM: If you read this book, and you've read anything by Hunter S. Thompson, it's hard not to see his influence on you. What is it about him that made such an impact?
GKW: I was thinking about this the other day. Jack Kerouac was the one that opened my mind to the world. He's the one that kicked the doors open that said, "This is the possibility of what you can do." Thompson made me skeptical and question things; he made me analytical about what it is I wanted to do.
CM: Who else do you like to read?
GKW: The one that I'm on now is Charles Bukowski. He's my love affair - one of the few writers that can stop me in my tracks ... it's like a perverted (Ernest) Hemingway. He writes very short, concise sentences, he's right to the point, he lets dialogue direct the story and it's so vulgar - I love it. It's real. My guilty pleasure is actually a book I'm reading right now. I'm reading "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. I'm still on the fence about the woman. I actually get a lot of crap for reading this book. It's almost like stating a political preference. I really love it for the technique. Each sentence is like eating a steak. You have to read each sentence twice because it's so rich.
CM: Leading up to this book, and now with some of the other projects you're working on, you're using Facebook as an artistic medium. You're putting excerpts from the books out there, it's like a teaser to the book, but it's like it's own new form of poetry in a way.
GKW: Or editing (laughter).
CM: Tell me about how this book was published.
GKW: The publishing thing is a huge mess. You've got to do it yourself, like anything. You're just as likely to get a publishing deal or a book deal as you are getting a record deal, if you're a band. It's all grassroots. I hate to use it as an example, but it's a perfect example. Look at Justin Bieber. He got famous through YouTube. He put a video on YouTube of himself singing, and lo and behold, four or five years later, look at him now. That's the way you have to do it; you just have to keep putting things out there. That's how I look at Facebook. Who knows who is looking at that?
CM: What does the title of your book mean?
GKW: I think it's a location and an emotion. I think it's a headspace and a geographical location. It's any small town where you don't know if you can escape it or not. The more I think about this book, in hindsight, I think it's that period between when everybody is doing everything for you - high school, middle school, elementary school - and that period where you need to do everything for yourself, and you don't know what you're going to do.