Janie, the head Meow Meow of our Pow Pow, was pleased to reconnect with one of the writers and editors who has been with our site since the beginning, Levi Rogers. He has continued to contribute and collaborate on the Pup Pup Blog, but has been very busy as an author preparing for the recently released Utah! A Novel.
Fleeing from ever present wildfires and the threat of the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupting, Lee, Becca, and their daughter Analise embark on a road-trip through the state of Utah to a wedding in Zion National Park. Set in the not-too-distant-future, Utah! is a novel about climate change and the intricacies of relationships-between family, partners, religious structures, nature, and the American West. Featuring a litany of intriguing Utah residents including ex and current Mormons, doomsday preppers, military vets, Presbyterian ministers, and Colombian housewives, these characters eventually find their paths crossing in violence, disaster, and friendship. Through desert islands, climbing gyms, beer bars, suburbia, mountains, coffee shops, long drives, and mass shootings, Utah! seeks to show the true diversity, beauty, and yes, sometimes peculiar, aspects of one of the most misunderstood states. It's a novel about the smoldering darkness beneath the surface of our individual selves and society ... and what happens when we refuse to acknowledge our past transgressions. Utah! is a slow burn of a novel that ends with an explosive finish.
While it's still a matter of speculation as to how much of "The Dating Game" that Janie has actually seen, here is her version of the show with just one suitor in the hot seat answering questions --- that is, with our old pal Levi answering on behalf of the book.
Q. When your book thinks about its childhood, who does it resent the most?
A. Its religious upbringing.
Q. If your book could knit a sweater for a dog or crochet a sweater for cat, which would it prefer and why?
A. Dog, definitely dog. There is at least 1 dog in the book, maybe two. But absolutely no cats. Was this on purpose? I’m not sure.
Q. Who is your book’s celebrity fistfight?
A. Mitt Romney
Q. Your book was given a choice between a cursed immortality or a blessed seven years before a painful and brief death, which does it pick?
A. Well, one whole aspect of the book is that it’s about the need for some things to die, rather than live on. So definitely painful death. I don’t want to give too much away, but, yeah, things go boom in the end.
Q. What T.V. Show is your book scared of?
A. "Real Housewives of Salt Lake City"
Q. Let’s say we live in a world where sheep don’t exist, what does you book count to sleep to stave off racing thoughts and help go to sleep?
Q. Has your book ever been kicked out of a public sporting event or concert, and if so what for?
A. Unfortunately my book has been kicked out of many concerts for talking to their friends too loud while the band plays (this is a very Utah thing).
Q. Is your book a dog person or a cat person or some other kind of pet person?
A. My book exists in the near-future Wild West so I’m going to say it has a pet Moose or Bison.
Q. Your book is confronted by an old bog witch who offers your book endless treasures and fame if your book can share the most impressive advice its ever been given. What does your book tell to try and impress the witch?
A. Life is a trial, a test. For what reason this trial exists or whom set it up I am not sure. Yet the point of the test is not to “pass” the test, but to go through the test itself. It is in how we respond to the trial itself that matters, the manner in which we embrace life itself. Do we seek to run away from life or numb it? Do we use what we have to manipulate, control, and bleed others in life? Or do we use whatever we’ve been given in this life to bless others? In this way, it matters very little what we “do” or who we “become” to say nothing of the obvious triviality of things like a house, career, partner, car, business, money, etc. Yes, choose your own happiness, and meaning and money and careers and partners can all help with that, but that’s not the point of life. The point of life is in the how, how we respond to the situations and joys and tragedies life throws at us. It is how we exist in the being, how we “be” how we “do” that counts in this life. Do we respond with kindness? Do we hold onto bitterness? Do we blame others and refuse to take responsibility for our actions? Do we seek justice? As Viktor Frankl says in Man’s Search for Meaning, each man is asked by life, and man can only respond by being responsible.
There’s a volcano in my book and the whole point of it is a metaphor for those hidden things bubbling under the surface that we refuse to acknowledge or take accountability for—whether it’s climate change, systemic racial injustice, or the darkness within ourselves—and that one day, maybe in the near future, maybe even today, will explode and end us all if we keep ignoring them.
Levi Rogers is a writer and former coffee roaster currently based in the land of the Chinookan and Multnomah people. He has an MFA from Antioch University and his debut novel Utah! A Novel, published by Atmosphere Press, is available now. He lives with his wife Cat, their two daughters, dog Amelie, and two cats-Chicken and Waffles.
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