Matthew Revert

How does one describe a book such as A Million Versions of Right, the collection of short stories from Australian literary first-timer, Matthew Revert?  Not an easy task, especially if one wants to avoid repeating all other attempts, every single one of which can be distilled to the words ‘bizarre’, ‘hilarious’, and ‘disturbing’.  An interview with Matthew Revert by PD Lussier.

So then what about the author?  How the hell do I introduce Matthew Revert in a way that offers meaningful insight on his indescribable work? Bizarre, unusual, hilarious, and disturbed???   After all, anyone whose mind can generate such stories surely qualifies to have his name designate some new mental disorder in the latest version of the DSM, right?

Alas, Matthew can’t bank on any pity inducing freak-factor; despite all expectations, these stories are in fact the product of an overly sane mind.

Indeed, Matthew would be a worthy poster-boy for that scarce and paradoxical crowd I playfully label as rebelliously un-rebelling rebels—those whose still fully-functioning sensibility fills them with disgust in the face of the world we are forced to passively accept, but whose razor-sharp acuity allows them to discern the futility and inevitable despair behind wanting to function outside of certain societal constructs,  while  a profound sense of identity enables them to reach for the ‘meaningful’ and scorn the ‘prosaic’ knowing full well that their version of Happiness relies on the acceptance that their non-conformist goals are dependent on conventions and conformity.

Understanding this about Matthew Revert doesn‘t make describing his book any easier, but it certainly should make it clear to you that this book aims to fall well outside  of that weird-only-for-the-sake-of-goofy-novelty mess that festers the mainstream bowels of Bizarro and Absurdist fiction in much the same way that love songs were soiled by Air Supply.   Rather, this book offers a crucial and refreshing difference that should instantly establish it as a prototype of the Bizarro genre (perhaps New Absurdist?  Subject for a debate no doubt).  That difference is: in these stories, the nonsensical actually makes sense and the illogical is firmly grounded on logic, i.e. they have a raison-d’être.

And it is for that reason that I am reluctant to present  A Million Versions of Right as Bizarro fiction and why I want to avoid ‘bizarre’, ‘hilarious’, and ‘disturbing’.   All true, but this unjustly limits the book’s potential audience which really ought to be as broad as broad goes; these stories should appeal to anyone who enjoys well-constructed, well-written tales that have the ability to expertly whisk you into new mental realms—I’m guessing that’s anyone who enjoys fiction (yes, I’m an idealist).

Granted, perhaps testicular annihilation and scrotum aesthetics shouldn’t be appreciated by all.  And the paralysing fear that one or more of the ‘men’ contained in ‘semen’ may be what decides to burst forth at that next toe-curling moment is rarely a popular water-cooler topic.  Ditto for power blinks, malfunctioning bookmarks, and one particular comb-jar deep in the Hair District…  But all these things fill the pages for a reason, brilliantly described and brought to life to reveal the shocking silliness that exists in those things we call conventions.

Which brings me back to the beginning… how then, do I introduce this book?

I had the opportunity to ask  Matthew a few questions; here’s the result.

PDL:  How do you qualify yourself as a writer?  Is there a certain genre label you feel describes your writing best?

MR:  Wherever possible, I’ve tried not to qualify myself as a writer. I’m really against the idea of backing myself into a corner and reproducing endless facsimiles of my first book. I began writing in a very natural way, without any intention of sharing my work beyond a small circle of friends. I didn’t have to worry about where it fit and this suited me just fine. Since my writing has become available, others have happily placed it into categories for me. The most common genre it gets labelled with is Bizarro fiction, which I guess is an adequate way of describing it inasmuch as the writing is quite bizarre. I have more of an affinity with absurdist writing, which I personally think is a more accurate way of describing what I do. Ultimately though, I just write unusual fiction, which is probably the best way to describe it.

PDL: I myself tend to qualify A Million Versions of Right as Bizarro fiction for several reasons.  We can arm-wrestle for it if you wish, but your previous answer leads me to think you just don’t care?  However, are you not confusing “formula” with “ideal”?  Does the goal of writing works aiming to fit a literary or philosophical framework, according to you, entail a fair amount of eventual, self-imposed limitations?  Should “genre” emerge or can it also be a goal?  In good writing, is one separable from the other?    

MR: That’s a fantastic question! I went into this whole writing game naively, and to an extent, I still carry around a lot of this naivety. When I write, as far as I’m aware, I don’t take classification into account. I don’t write and think to myself, “Well, it appears this is a Bizarro story” and I never consider where a certain story may fall before writing occurs. I agree that idealism plays a role in that and I have a tendency to be a fairly idealistic person.  As for formula, I’m still discovering what my writing formula is.

Your comment about the framework of a story leading to self-imposed limitation is also fantastic. I find myself caught in a situation where on the one hand, I dislike the idea of limitation, and on the other, certain levels of limitation is obviously necessary. Anything that you wrap into a cohesive, narrative shell is the result of limitation. Aesthetic limitation also has a large role to play, especially in much of the music I enjoy. When I started writing this book, I hadn’t read any Bizarro fiction so I really didn’t know what Bizarro entailed. The reason I never considered myself Bizarro was because none of my influences came from that camp. My influences are a mess of different things, some that I’ve carried around since childhood. Having now read a fair bit of Bizarro, I’m interested to see if it ends up consciously working its way into my writing.

Genre can most definitely be a goal and there are many fantastic genre writers out there. Personally, I never read a book based on its genre; I just read books that sound interesting. That’s the same way I approach writing. I write a story if the idea interests me and hope that I’ve touched upon an idea that interests others. So in this respect, for my writing, genre emerges. The pulpy, noir-like overtones that permeate the first part of “Meeting Max” weren’t planned for instance.    

PDL:  Back to your “unusual fiction” description.  Yes, indeed!  But is that a departure or an adherence to the ol’ “write what you know“ adage?  In other words, and sarcasm aside, what motivates this propensity towards the unusual?  You mentioned that you originally wrote for yourself and for a few friends; did your desire to write unusual fiction initially come about purely as a desire to entertain acquaintances, no doubt with a fair degree of success, which led you to realize a talent?  Or did you always write about the bizarre, too disgusted by reality to ever be able to write seriously about real-life events and situations?  Neither?  Both? Other?  How?  Why?  Please expand.

The ‘unusual’ has always been an enormous part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a child, it was always the jokes that didn’t make sense or that were told poorly that I laughed the hardest at. The absurd, bizarre, unusual, nonsensical side of life is something I embrace with near-religious fervour. So for me, the adage is correct. This is what I know. This is how I communicate. This is what I see value in. For me, it goes beyond mere entertainment (although that is definitely a part of it). It was the purest way for me to express myself. I’ve always been the kind of person to see the humour in a situation, even if my version of humour doesn’t translate to anyone else. Combining this inclination toward humour with the inclination toward the nonsensical, and you’re left with the material I write. Life is something I find largely disgusting, redundant and ultimately depressing.  The best way for me to approach a serious topic, or the “reality” of life is to expose the underlying absurdity behind it. I don’t know what this says about me personally, but this is how I’ve always related to the world. How could I write in any other way?

With that said, I do think all of my stories have a serious aspect underlining the overt insanity. Recently I’ve had people telling me that they believe I write horror. To me there is a certain horror bubbling through it all.

I touched a little upon influences in an earlier question but I want to expand upon that a bit. If I were to be honest about my influences, I’d have to say that they’re based in British comedy. The British have a knack for humour that no other country even comes close to. British comedy also possesses such an amazing flair for the absurd. The work of Chris Morris has probably influenced my writing more than any single book I’ve read. Anyone unfamiliar with Chris Morris should rectify that immediately.  I’d also add Armando Iannucci to that list.

Obviously, as anyone who reads your book can attest to,  you don’t pander to popular expectations, but nor can the writing in A Million Versions of Right be considered experimental; the situations and events described certainly fall outside of real-world conventions—thus the “unusual”—but the stories themselves are concise, well-written accounts that follow standard narrative forms.  No doubt this allows you to emphasize “the underlying absurdity” of life, but is this also a conscious method of marrying sellable with unsellable?  In other words, producing original, independent writing that still has commercial viability due to its readability and accessibility, for surely, you do hope to sell books?

MR: No, I’m not an experimental writer at all. My goal was always to write stories that entertained. This writing style personally entertains me and allows the internal logic to come through with conviction. It’s also the most natural way for me to integrate my type of humour into the writing. There’s a bit of subversion involved too, in that I’m using standard narrative to convey highly unusual ideas, almost like I’m trying to sneak the content through. The goal was to win readers over with the writing and hope that they’d accept the subject matter as a result. I’m not naïve enough to assume that my, admittedly odd, sensibilities and interests are going to appeal to that many people. So by writing in an accessible way, my conviction may win converts. Obviously I want people to pick up my book and ultimately buy it. I also want them to get something out of the experience. This is the first time my name has ever been attached to a ‘product’ and I don’t want that product to represent a waste of time or money for the reader. It still completely blows me away when someone displays enough faith to lay down money on my writing. I hope it continues to blow me away because I never want to take that for granted.

PDL: What do you qualify as “good writing”?  What features or characteristics must be present, or not?

MR: For me, good writing begins with an author’s passion for the material. The passion bleeds into the prose and as a reader, you can sense it. The sense that someone is writing by rote can also be felt, which can make for a depressingly by the numbers read. I personally get excited when an author makes me care about something seemingly banal or think in a new way about something I’d previously taken for granted. Ultimately though, I find it really hard to qualify good writing. Writing and reading is such a deeply personal thing, which is something I really value. The act of qualifying the value of a piece of writing almost goes against what I find valuable about it. It seems to suggest a checklist of sorts that as a reader, you mentally tick off in order to ascertain merit. To a degree, I’m sure this occurs unconsciously with all readers. I’d rather keep this unconscious so as not to remove the mystique. You could ask a question like, “What constitutes an author’s passion?” and I wouldn’t be able to define it. As trite as it may seem, when you encounter a good piece of writing, you know it.   

Artistic movements (not just literary ones)?  Good or bad?  Vague question, I know; I just want to get your brief, overall thoughts on the subject.

MR: It’s hard to have a real perspective of any literary movements because I haven’t yet become a part of one. Sure, I may write in a way that suggests Bizarro, but am I really a Bizarro author unless the ‘movement’ accepts me into their fold? If I am ‘accepted’ will that change my approach to writing? Movements as a whole are obviously an extremely important part of artistic history. The word itself suggests a nebulous entity shifting from point to point. The very nature of ‘movement’ implies that whatever it is that forms a movement will ultimately move away to the next check point. If a movement can avoid stifling dogma, I’m all for it. If a movement can evolve, I’m for it even more.

PDL:  The following is off your Myspace page, “And now I write. I write about nothing and I write about everything, all in an attempt to recreate the unfulfilling circumstances in which I was conceived.”   A very Freudian statement!  Keeping in mind what you’ve said so far, care to discuss this further?  A bit of Revertian humour or the basis for a personal, Revert-esque philosophy? 

MR: This is going to come across as slightly perverse, but I’ve always had this theory that my conception was the result of an unsatisfactory sexual encounter between my parents. Of course, I don’t know if this is true and I have no plans of asking them – it’s just a fun thing to think about. I do often wonder if the satisfaction, or lack thereof, during conception affects the resultant child. Would a mind-blowing sexual encounter result in a more dynamic child? Would an encounter between two people, too familiar in their relationship to experience spontaneity or passion, result in something opposite? It’s a concept I plan on exploring further in my writing at some point. The write-up on my MySpace page has more to do with my version of humour than anything else. It’s all about self-deprecation, which is something I get a kick out of. I don’t suppose it instils confidence in potential readers though. “Selling” myself is a skill I definitely have to learn, no matter how begrudgingly.

PDL:  Other than in biology textbooks, I’ve never read any other non-erotic work that contained as many references to penises, scrotums, or masturbation, all in a very non-erotic fashion.  Is this a personal obsession?  A desire to take toilet humour to new heights?  Or perhaps a personal f*ck you to the overly serious, out-of-a-cast, pompous literary types who seem to exercise totalitarian control over what is and isn’t publishable?  Or am I reading too much in every scrotum?

MR: To me this is actually a pretty complex question. It’s not so much that I’m obsessed with genitalia per se but I am utterly intrigued by the reaction to genitalia. The ubiquity of genitalia in no way gels with the obscenity associated with it. I definitely don’t use sex to tantalise in my writing, as you pointed out. I approach sex almost from a post-sexual perspective, where all that’s left is an instinctual urge for orgasmic release or mindless intimacy. Sex in my writing is used more to examine the relationships between the characters. These relationships are typically dysfunctional, dying or dead to begin with. I can’t write normal, healthy relationships because I’m not convinced they exist.

Regarding toilet humour and notions of what is and isn’t publishable; I admit to falling into this trap myself. When I was first approached by a friend who was interested in publishing my writing, my first reactions was, “this can’t be published.” I find it interesting and slightly sad that I had been conditioned to feel that way. Sure, knowing that a story like, ‘The Bricolage Scrotum’ was getting printed did fill me with a certain naughty glee but I also felt a sense of shame. Thankfully I worked through this rather quickly and now it’s a simple case of if you don’t like it, don’t read it. As an unknown author with an unknown book, there’s a wonderful liberation involved. If and when I gain a readership, there will always be a fear that I’ll fill future books with similar material because it’s expected and not because it feels natural. I’ll cross this bridge if I come to it.

Ultimately though, if I ever stop finding farts funny, that’s the day I’ll have to end it all. If this mindset detracts from my credibility, so be it.

PDL: Out of curiosity, in the first story, “A Million Version of Right”, the moustachioed tiler?  How much of that was inspired by the Super Mario Bros. video game?   Given what you write, are video games and/or cartoons in any way an influence for your writing?

MR: When I wrote that story (one of the first stories I ever wrote that I was happy with), Super Mario wasn’t a conscious inspiration. It’s a pretty slight difference, but Mario is a plumber whereas my little guys are tilers. I’ve had several people tell me that they couldn’t shake the image of Mario from their mind while reading that story. I think it may have warped their perception of Mario from that point onward. I think I’ve corrupted minds!

My childhood in the 80s corresponded with the explosion of the first Nintendo system (NES). The Nintendo was an enormous part of my life and I played it obsessively. The majesty of this 8bit universe is something that definitely still flows through my blood. Despite the barrage of new gaming systems that have been released, it’s still the original Nintendo that I return to. I’m one of those pathetic guys who purchases replacement parts to ensure their antiquated gaming consoles never die. I’m also enamoured with the Chiptune genre of music, which uses the original technology to create modern, nostalgia-spackled music. Interested parties should check out the work by the 8BITPEOPLES label. All free. So it would be absurd for me to claim that this doesn’t find a way into my writing. It’s not something I set out to do deliberately but it’s something that went into shaping who I am.

This same logic applies to cartoons. My childhood was stuffed with them and I’m not opposed to long cartoon binges these days. I find the increasing rise of adult cartoons interesting. I like a good amount of the work places like Adultswim produce and I respect what they’re doing a lot but I find it a little too self-conscious to be genuinely strange. It’s the cartoons aimed at kids that often manage to be genuinely warped, existing on their own terms.

PDL: Here’s one of those inane but revealing  questions – if you had to describe your writing by means of a musical genre label, which would it be? Why?  Does music play a role in your writing in any way?   You’ve mentioned in an earlier answer that, “Aesthetic limitation also has a large role to play, especially in much of the music I enjoy.”  Is there a parallel between this and how, when writing, you conceive the structure of a piece?

MR: Now we’re getting into dangerous territory. I’m an utter music geek and could go on and on… First of all, and I know this is a question a lot of writers ask each other, I never write to music. I become far too distracted. If I had to apply a single musical genre to my writing, I couldn’t. I’m sure I could apply several though. First, electro-acoustic improv because it contains both elements of the strange and familiar. There’s the terror and ultimate of absurdity of extreme metal (especially doom, death and black). The cold, clinical nature of the sexuality I write about has overtones of the Raster-Noton school of electronics. The synapse overload of noise. There’s a rhythmic quality I try to insert into my prose that has touches of hip hop cadence. The raw emotion of American Primitive music. The “fuck you” attitude of Miles Davis in jazz fusion mode. I love so many different styles of music that I’m sure I could find a way to relate all of them to my writing somehow.

Regarding aesthetic limitations in music, I’m going to use electro-acoustic improv as an example. Consider an artist such as Toshimaru Nakamura, who has been involved in some of my favourite albums over the last decade. His ‘instrument’ is the no-input mixing board. This is a standard mixing board with the input connected to the output. Anyone who has done this will be aware of the vast array of feedbacks that result. Using this very limited framework, Toshi  creates some of the most amazing music I’ve ever heard. With the years spent perfecting the use of a no-input mixing board, Toshi has become something of a virtuoso. This aesthetic limitation has been utilised superbly and I can’t imagine the music being so successful if this limitation hadn’t occurred. Other artists in this area of music who have actively limited themselves are Sachiko M, Keith Rowe and Ami Yoshida (to name some of the more popular practitioners). As I mentioned earlier, I don’t limit myself anywhere near as much but I’m still finding my voice and I don’t believe limitations of that nature would benefit me – at least not yet. The ways I limit myself at the moment are much broader than that. In ‘The Bookmark That Didn’t Work’, for example, I came up with an idea wherein the common bookmark had only been invented recently. This had to dictate everything that followed. Not a great example because all writers are confined by their narratives but that’s all I really have at this stage.

PDL: Beyond the Vegemite and the obvious idiomatic expressions, is there anything in your writing that you feel classifies you as an Australian writer?  Is there one defining aspect that distinguishes modern Australian literature from the rest?   I like to describe Canadian culture as:  we don’t know what we are, but we know we’re not Americans.  Care to come up with your own to describe Australian culture?

MR: This is a tricky question and one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I don’t believe I write stories related to Australia. This isn’t a deliberate thing by any means, just the way my writing has developed. Both my parents are English, which I think has shaped what I do in a more noticeable way. Having lived my whole life here, there’s no way that Australia doesn’t seep into what I do – I just don’t know how. Australian art, specifically literature and cinema, tends toward social realism. There seems to exist this theory that Australian audiences only desire specifically Australian content. The reality doesn’t really support this theory. Our top selling books are never books written by Australians. Australian films very rarely make it into mainstream cinemas. In my opinion, the Australian artistic landscape doesn’t give the bulk of Australians what they seem to want. If you walked up to an average person in the street and asked them to name five Australian authors, I’m sure many of them would struggle.  I like a lot of the social realist films and books that come out here, but it would be nice to occasionally watch some Aussie films or read some books that weren’t enslaved to it.

Australian culture: one that doesn’t really know what it wants and imports other cultures as a result. Or, Australian culture: something that most Australians aren’t very interested in unless it pertains to sport.

PDL: Have you had any difficulties finding local publicity or promotional support, such as book signings, etc., due to what can be classified as graphic content in your book?  Have you received any backlash for this in any way?  Do you feel that the writing community takes you less seriously as an author because of your content?   

MR: Finding ways to publicise or promote my book with Australia has essentially been impossible. There’s been love from some independent bookstores but my book is even more unknown here than it is overseas. As I mentioned earlier, the Australian literary landscape is a pretty tricky one, especially if you don’t follow any established conventions in the subject matter you choose to explore. I believe there is a local audience for my work but if I want to tap into that, I’ll have to find each individual person myself. Short of a miracle, I don’t see this situation changing. It’s more likely that local audiences will discover me via international outlets, such as this.

As for backlash resulting from the content; personally I haven’t been at the receiving end of this. It may be a component of a general dismissal of the book but I’ve never had anyone attack me for the content itself. I’m sure there are many, many people (not just in the writing community) who don’t take me seriously because of what I choose to write about. Hell, even among friends and family who’ll buy it to support me personally but will never actually read it. Hopefully the conviction I have in my own work will eventually speak for itself. If I had to contort myself into something that the writing community viewed as ‘acceptable’, I wouldn’t be able to take myself seriously. I can think of nothing worse than compromising my own integrity just to ‘fit in’. This is what I do; take it or leave it (if a couple of people choose to ‘take it’, I’d be most grateful).

PDL: The Australian government is currently under attack for heading the way of China and Iran in regards to controlling the Internet content it makes available to its citizens.   You are strongly opposed to this, yet the aims purported by many for such measures are positive.  Do you fear or mistrust your own government’s utilisation of such a filtering tool in the application of its laws with Australian service providers?  It seems that the motivation behind such measures is unlike those in China and Iran.  Rather, can it not be said that Australia is a progressive leader in the fight against child-pornography, fraud, violence, etc?  Shouldn’t the world aim towards implementing this kind of international system providing a neutral regulatory body can be established?  Possibility or fantasy?  Should there be some limitations or liability measures linked to the publication of certain Web content?

MR: I don’t think I’ve personally likened the situation to China and Iran as extreme hyperbole of that nature can detract from what’s really happening. For those who aren’t aware, the Australian government is set to enact a plan to introduce mandatory filtering on all internet connections. According to our communications minister, Stephen Conroy, this is intended to protect children from damaging content and ultimately stop the proliferation of child pornography. Looking at those intentions, how could anyone possibly disagree with such a plan? Well, an estimated 95% of those surveyed in Australia seem to disagree and here’s why:

First consider the concept of protecting children and filtering in general. A few years ago, the Australian government made available free internet filters to anyone who wanted one. These proved to be very effective filters and enabled worried parents a genuine opportunity to rightly control their children’s internet experience. This also enabled adults to decide for themselves what was suitable. Now consider child pornography and those who partake in this practice. No one with any amount of decency would ever claim that child pornography isn’t a despicable, repugnant thing. BUT filtering the internet to stop this content simply won’t work. It has been suggested that most people involved in child porn utilise encrypted networks and peer to peer software that isn’t picked up by this filter. Google don’t index anything related to child porn and I’m sure many other search engines are the same.  We’re talking about an extremely closed circle of people who operate behind more curtains than any filter could possibly dream of pulling aside. The filters will be incredibly easy to bypass with proxies and VPN clients and it will drive things further underground, making it hard to track.

Now Australia has a dedicated police taskforce whose job it is to combat online child pornography. They have been successful in bringing down numerous child pornography rings in the past. What many people don’t know is that this taskforce was recently slashed by 50%. In a country purporting to care about the welfare of children, how could this be?

If these filters were only targeting child pornography, I doubt anyone would have a problem with it and if a single child could be saved from this, I’d be more inclined to take it seriously. What most people are concerned about is the extreme ambiguity in the proposal. These filters are also aimed to stop RC (refused classification) material. Australia is a very ban-happy country. Our classification board refuses to classify a lot of films, which makes them illegal to distribute within Australia. However, with the exception of a few states and territories) it’s not illegal to personally own and view most RC material. It is claimed that over 90% of all adult content on the internet is RC. This doesn’t just encompass pornographic material, far from it. Anyone interested is encouraged to view the following site, which examines this in more detail:

The government’s refusal to clearly describe what they aim to filter is very worrying and it’s not difficult to imagine special interest groups trying to exploit this. I could dedicate the whole interview to this topic but it would be wiser to direct people here: this site gives a fantastic overview of the whole situation.

A neutral regulatory body would be fantastic in theory but I do believe this to be a fantasy. We’d still be subject to the morality of others and ultimately told what we could and couldn’t view. To claim that there’s no liability on what is published on the internet strikes me as false. Barely a day goes by where we don’t hear of someone who has been held accountable (whether by legal means or otherwise) for what they do on the internet. We have record companies suing teenagers. Dominos employees getting sacked for the web content they upload. Countless Facebook users coming under fire from bosses, co-workers, friends and families. The internet community as a whole has a moral code and they will persecute whomever falls foul of this code. It’s also false to claim that Australia could be viewed as ‘progressive  leaders’ in this area. You may be interested to note that one of the countries oft quoted by Conroy as a benchmark for the Australian filter is Canada. In fact we’ve been adamantly informed that no fewer than 19 other countries have adopted similar methods. What other countries have really adopted is a black list of 1000 or so child pornography websites, not a blanket filter for RC material. It should also be noted that this filter has no plans of stopping internet fraud. It’s a very slippery slope we’re heading down. International community, weep for our souls.

PDL: How do you feel about Internet pseudonyms?

MR: In general, I have no issue with internet pseudonyms but there are some major exceptions to this. If a pseudonym is used in order to defame or break the law, it can be very damaging. There’s something especially low about an individual snaking out of accountability by hiding behind a persona. If you feel the need to speak ill of someone, at least have the gumption to put your name to it. But how do you police this? On a whole, the internet is founded upon assumed guises without issue. I don’t care if you use a fake name on a forum or social network; if we have enough in common, I’ll learn who you are eventually. It’s a very complex issue because you want to somehow control the pernicious aspects of pseudonyms without thwarting individual freedom. Internet fraud units operate with success in most countries but this is a lot of hands on work. I don’t think an automated approach could ever be used to solve the problem (hello, internet filtering!). The issue of international law also looms large. If someone in America tries to defame me, as an Australian citizen, what avenues do I have to combat it? So an international agreement would be a good first step. But it’s the sort of thing that needs to be stopped before it happens, which I doubt is possible. So yeah, on a whole they’re fun and erroneous but pseudonyms have a very dark side. Finding a balance between controlling that dark side and maintaining individual freedom is a concept too difficult for me to contemplate. 

PDL: Matthew Revert, thank you for your time and honesty.  Wishing you much success.

MR: Thank you for giving me this opportunity. It’s appreciated in ways you’d find plain creepy.

PDL: Final words: Taste.  Experiment.  Learn.  Grow.  This author’s work may not be your thing, however, this is one of those rare cases where experience is everything and comparisons are useless.  What have you got to lose?

For those who realize they can’t go wrong, A Million Versions of Right is published by LegumeMan Books. It can  be ordered through their website and on

Pascal-Denis Lussier is a linguist and freelance writer. His obsessions include music (the good kind!), The Simpsons, and unearthing structure in all things. He’s written countless articles on jazz, theoretical linguistics, and on semiotic theory for numerous academic journals, newspapers, and magazines, but these days he mostly earns his living by copywriting for large corporations and tech writing for small software firms – a  temporary “phase” he’s trying hard to get away from…
He currently lives in Montreal, Canada.