(Excerpted from The Ministry of Foreign Languages Review):
When did you begin to write? Did the olfactorory bulbectemy have any impact on the way you write?
After the Washington Mall massacre, I decided to stay in the E.A.R. but was befuddled beyond all comprehension as to how to make a living. By that time there were no jobs related to English, but for every one fast food or garbage collector job there where thousands of asylum seekers, most of whom had already undergone the procedures.
I had made a journal of the last days before losing my sense of smell and taste. When the Inspector-General declared war on smell I knew that I must record the history of all smells, both fragrant and malodorous. Cataloging with exactitude the innumerable odors that have dictated my life was the greatest writing I have ever written.
At the time, vanquishing smell was the most sensible and expeditious policy for developing the post-scarcity economy. The Inspector-General said that we must purge the past, it being essential for the country to rapidly modernize and take its rightful place in the future Post-Scarcity Paradise. Washington Mall was all still fresh on the mind so his reasoning was quite sound. A troop of White Coats stood behind him, green lighting the validity of this volcanic noise, declaring studies have shown, etcetera, etcetera.
So I wanted to write about the smells in my life, and I was fortunate to have some time to do this before it was my turn to report to the Center for Nostalgia Control.
Do you still have this memoir of yours?
Thank goodness, no. Fortunately, it was confiscated before I entered the country. You can see for yourself in my files.
In An Unchimerical History of Olfactorial Authority, Yu, an aspiring aromochalogist, struggles to adapt to a country inhospitable to the pleasures of the freed imagination. Is the novel the story of what would have happened to you if you hadn’t become a writer employed at the Ministry of Foreign Languages?
Not exactly. I had been reading Borges at the time, so I wanted to craft a story containing much of my own pain blended with his labyrinthine style, but I can’t say it’s autobiographical as so much wishful thinking. Intellectually, I can identify with Yu and even the narrator’s sense of cognitive dissonance, but really, I had a different story, one quite devoid of all that unpleasant business concerning fragrant erotica and gustatory conflagrations.