“I’m a total dork,” Christian Glazner overeagerly blurts out as we sit down for roast chicken red pepper sandwiches and chocolate milk in the school cafetorium. That much was apparent. With his purple vintage Mario T, mom-meets-dad style fop top, and tie-my-shoe era Chuck Taylors, Glazner is not the type to be picked first in gym class. What you might be surprised to learn however, is that this unassuming youngsturk with a fey (and faux) lyrical swagger reminiscent of a very young Jarvis Cocker is one of our most talked about young authors.
The Lemon Walrus: Assorted Tales from Paper Mountain tells the story of Felix, an awkward young zerosomething, who navigates the perilous waters of elementary school with the help of a host of whimsically deranged imaginary friends. There’s Suki, a double headed dragon who helps him out with his math homework, and Han, a talkative horsefly whose sage advice helps Felix ward of bullies and talk to quiet girls. Though the plot is driven primarily by the titular Luko, a lemon colored (and lemon shaped) walrus, who mysteriously appears throughout the novel to send Felix on bizarre quests about town for seemingly mundane items, such as a mechanical toothbrush, or a biography of Abraham Lincoln. As the purpose of these quests is gradually revealed Felix is cleverly transformed from hapless side-reel into an improbable folk hero.
“What I was aiming for was a cross between my two favorite novels, Hornby’s High Fidelity and Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are,” says Christian between dips of a Dunkaroo. “There’s a strong asian sensibility that you may have noticed, I went through a pretty heavy anime phase when I was younger. I hate to admit it, but it’s had a huge influence on my work.” Glazner has a way of charmingly undercutting himself at every turn, never seeking cover in his own words as so many writers tend to do. There is a remarkable openness with regard to both his work and himself. “I have to be open. This [points to a copy of The Lemon Walrus he just autographed for me], this is my life. Many writers try to hide the fact they’re writing about themselves, I embrace it. It’s therapy for me.” Glazner’s former therapist Dr. Richard Preston, who in the spirit of scientific exchange consented to talk to us, respectfully disagrees.
“Glazner is the most profoundly disturbed individual I have ever met,” says Preston. “He lacks what I have come to term the ‘nerd origin’ (perditus primordium), a period of his life where he was truly a loser lacking any redeemably ‘hip’ qualities. The patient emerged directly into the ‘self-congratulatory’ phase of geekdom, never experiencing that essential period before one embraces their own awkwardness, where the wellspring of righteous self-pity and anger is formed. To what may we attribute this anomaly? Overzealous hipster parents? The internet? You may be interested to know I am conducting an extensive cultural psychoanalysis as we speak to uncover the antecedents. I fear the degradation of the once hallowed lovable loser. We are at the precipice of a new era, a paradigmatic shift, stylistic neuroticism is in danger of becoming wholly severed from its less appealing yet endearing precursor.”
Glazner appears to take criticisms such as these in stride, but his mannerisms reveal a deep insecurity. “Bet he told you about my case study,” he smiles sheepishly. “Guess I’m just one fucked up little boy.” As he hands me a list of reasons why the Stooges are pretty much the best band ever, I am overcome by a desire to hug him, to let him know that everything will be okay, that one day he’ll come into his own and everything he finds discomfiting about himself will just make sense, but professional standards and abuse statutes do not permit it. For now Glazner will have to make do with his Pixies bootlegs, Sex Pistols LPs and proto-punk mixtapes.
“Anyways I’m not really the kind of guy who like cares what other people think about me you know?” I sit silent for a few moments, then a few more, not sure how to respond. “Well,” Glazner finally interjects, hunching over and fixing his hair, “this is awkward.” He’s right, I think, it is awkward, and briefly I am thrust into his world.
“Sooo I’m thinking about starting this zine, nothing big, just everyday thoughts, musings. I’ve got someone to help out with illustrations and photographs, she’s this freak girl with like a world of poetry inside her. If things go well I might start experimenting with some manga forms.” I asked if there was any chance we might get to see Felix again. “I—I can’t say just yet. I’m not going to rule anything out it’s just—I just want to keep my options open.” Glazner leans in conspiratorially. “See I have this theory that everybody in the world just wants to fuck each other, and that’s like the driving force behind all of this shit. That’s really the theme I want to explore in my upcoming works.” Another silence follows but it’s not as awkward this time. “Man, I could sure go for a tea right about now,” he eventually declares. Me too guy, me too.