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neil labute interview
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The playwright and director turns his hand to prose.Playwright, film director and now first-time author, Neil LaBute has a reputation for always looking on the dark side of life. His bleak mind has seen a blind girl used as a pawn in a bet, human emotions played with to create an art show, and now his book, Seconds Of Pleasure, has nicked its title from an Elvis Costello song. Can he stoop any lower?
This book of 21 short stories is perfect reading to accompany one of those soy-decaf-vanilla-iced- cappuccino moments. It looks into the morbid workings of relationships where nothing is quite what it seems, and there’s a familiarity in tone that will delight fans. With a clear perspective on his own work, LaBute took a moment for some self-analysis: “My style has been unwavering. My recent stage plays - The Shape of Things, The Distance From Here, any of those - have the same kind of force as the early works like In The Company Of Men and Your Friends And Neighbours. I think the change along the way was in filmmaking and doing anything that was not mine, like Nurse Betty or Possession. I tried to stay true to the source material, so I didn’t have Nurse Betty sold into the sex trade.”
Each story is told from the eye of the beholder, and the conversational tone offers an unnerving voyage into the mind of the man or woman reliving the tale. LaBute states that “the idea of the monologue, that you’re making a direct connection – I mean, maybe you only have two people reading your book - but whoever it is you have that immediate connection as long as they continue reading. They really become a silent partner in what you are doing.” But then again Neil, that might be because we’re too freaked out to talk.
Seconds Of Pleasure by Neil LaBute, out now published by Faber & Faber.
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