The Way Things AreOr Are Ratz Nice?
a conversation with author Lawrence Ytzhak Braithwaite
Let's start with the title. Ratz are Nice. What the hell?
Rats survive and adapt; they run together in the lower parts where nobody wants to go, eat what nobody else wants to eat. Like the poor and lower classes, like Edison and the other characters in the book. Since that's the way things are, I say rats are nice.
Your first book, Wigger, was about co-opting someone else's culture, but the characters in Ratz seem more directed toward their own.
Ratz starts the way Wigger did. But this time Edison is deciding on stuff about his life with the "Dumbdumz." He realizes you can be a part of something without it stealing parts of yourself to be there. So it's about kids deciding to make this decision in life. They want to make that adult decision, right or wrong, and deal with the consequences.
Tell us about the world your characters inhabit.
We are in another failed "Reconstruction Period." There was the Civil War and the exploitation and lost hope of civility and equality. Then we had the overhyped civil rights movement followed by the big '80s Pomo divisive cultural revolution. The people in Ratz are the bastard children of all this. The have-nots are the only ones who've never gotten a voice, and everyone keeps saying they're speaking for them. What else could we get from the kids who grew up during this period, but them running a power move on things?
Some of them are pretty evil in a lot of ways.
I do think there is evil out there. They say that Victoria is the occult capital of North America, that it's the center of the pentagram and that there are places here which are right on the crossroads. You can call up evil or goodness in the middle of a crossroads. I think people have called up some wickedness. It's the underlying theme in the novel. The "Dumbdumz" reflect that. How distorted and twisted they have become. Edison knows that we don't have a "Buffy" to slay baddies nor do we have "Hellboy" or a John Constantine. Todd McFarlane is from around here. He created Spawn to fight that stuff but really it's up to an in
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Lawrence Ytzhak Braithwaite has been a bookstore clerk, a shipping clerk, a security guard, and a member of the Canadian armed forces. He is the author of Wigger, which won the Emerging Writers Competiton and was selected for Brian Bouldrey's Best American Gay Fiction, Volume 1, as well as much short fiction that has appeared in places like The Best Gay Erotica 1998, Redzone, MaleboxDC, Gerbil, and Angles. He lives in Victoria, B.C. and is a swot.
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