Interviews, Reviews, Appreciations
- In January 2013, Internet radio host The Funky Werepig interviewed Neal Barrett Jr. You may download or stream the interview in MP3 format from this link. (Or search for 'Funky Werepig' podcasts on iTunes.)
- An appreciation of Barrett by Sheila Williams in Asimov's
- In February 2012, author and blogger Jay Ridler posted this memory of when Neal Barrett was a help to him as an author
- In May 2011, Blogger Mr. Philoctetes Digressius wrote a very nice appreciation of Neal Barrett Jr., "Bugability: Neal Barrett, Jr. Bugs Me Out, Or How Writers Are Holy And Why That Matters", and also this review of the short story "Perpetuity Blues"
- Made in S.A.: Neal Barrett Jr.Made in S.A.: Neal Barrett Jr., in the online publication Missions Unknown: Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror in San Antonio (don't miss this one!)
- Infintity Plus interview by Nick Gevers
- A Double Shot of Wry: Author Neal Barrett, Jr., a lengthy and considered profile/interview article, by Mike Shea, from 1997 in the Austin Chronicle
- Homegrown Don Quixotes: Neal Barrett Jr.'s Interstate Dreams, a review by Mike Shea, from 2000, in the Austin Chronicle
- Inifinity Plus review of The Hereafter Gang Mojo Press reprint. "The Hereafter Gang is its author's undoubted masterpiece, the climax of the Barrett oeuvre. As one of the great eschatological fictions, it demands to be read; and once that compulsive reading begins, it will not stop, even at the boundary between Life and Death."
- Infinity Plus review of Perpetuity Blues
- Neal Barrett, Jr. Interview at Crescent Blues
- Review of Stress Pattern by blogger Robert Bee
- 2010 Review of Stress Pattern (1974), by Scott A. Cupp, in Missions Unknown
- Review of Prince of Christler-Coke by Rich Horton, on SF Site
- Another review of Prince of Christler-Coke on SF Site, this one by Matthew Cheney
- Review by blogger 'tarbandu' of Through Darkest America
- 2008 Review by blogger Bill Crider of The Hereafter Gang, with some added recommendations for other Barrett books
- Review of The Prophesy Machine, by Rich Horton
- An appreciation of Neal Barrett, Jr. from the 1997 Worldcon in San Antonio, Texas
- A podcast 2008 interview (MP3) with Neal Barrett, Jr.
- 1997 feature story about Neal Barrett Jr. in The Austin Chronicle, by Mike Shea
- A 1996 Austin Chronicle review of Skinny Annie Blues by Jesse Sublett.
The list below identifies some fellow authors who have some connection to Neal Barrett Jr. or is work. Many of these names are on the list because of the Texas connection, as laid out pretty well in the 2010 article Keeping Lone Star literature weird, in the Statesman of Austin, TX.
- Joe R. Lansdale
- Andew Vachss
- Scott A. Cupp
- Rick Klaw
- Lewis Shiner
- William Browning Spencer
- Bradley Denton
- Don Webb
Favorites and Influences
In an interview for Crescent Blues, Barrett said the following about his influences and favorites when it comes to other writers:
Sometimes people ask me what kinds of book or stories I read growing up. The answer -- and for most writers, I think -- is damn near everything. I read the magazines my folks bought -- marvelous primeval magazines that vanished some time ago: Bluebook (the best), Liberty, Colliers, The Saturday Evening Post. All the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, everything imaginable, everything I could find. I read A. Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, [A.E.] Van Vogt, [Ernest] Hemmingway, [John] Steinbeck, Thomas Wolfe. All the good stuff, and the bad stuff as well. I still do. Today I read Charles Willeford, Lawrence Block, Patrick O'Brian, Bernard Cornwell, Stephen Hunter, Michael Connelly, and the historical series by Sharon Key Penman. On and on. Who do I respect? A few, including Cordwainer Smith. (No one has ever been like him, and no one ever will be.) Terry Bisson. William Browning Spencer. Joe Lansdale. Lots of others. John le Carre.
In the same interview for Crescent Blues, Barrett mentions few specifics:
Several highlights of discovery come to mind: one, a hardback of Best Supernatural Stories of H.P. Lovecraft (1946) and the February 1945 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Prior to all this, was the 1943 publication of The Pocket Book of Science Fiction (25 cents). I was totally hooked.
In another interview, with Nick Gevers in Infinity Plus, Barrett sings the praises of Cordwainer Smith, and also Moebius:
It's difficult for a writer who has been writing a long time to say who influenced his work, because there are so many, many who did, writers you can't even recall. I had my own Golden Age, as everyone does, and especially in the SF field. No way I can name the greats of the 40s and 50s. But who is my all-time hero from back then? Cordwainer Smith. Without a doubt, in my mind, the very greatest, the most awesome, the most creative, and, certainly, the writer most ahead of his time. Everyone has their own nomination. This guy is mine. And who else today just knocks me off my feet as one of the great fantasy minds of all time? Moebius. I absolutely adore this guy. His art and Cordwainer Smith's writing go places I want to be.
This interesting item appears in a description of Mr. Barrett's papers in the Wittliff Collection at Texas State University:
Box 1070 folder 21 - "Dwight Swain" – described as “friend and teacher” of Barrett, includes program from memorial service, newspaper clipping on Swain and Barrett’s tribute
This interesting passage from a great interview with Mr. Barrett, one that included Joe Lansdale and Scott Cupp interviewing Barrett, also mentions Swain, and also Walter Campbell:
Joe: From there you went back to back to Oklahoma, ended up in school. You had a writing instructor whom I understand was pretty influential.
Neal: There several writing people there. One of them was Walter Campbell, who wrote under the name of Stanley Vestal, about rivers and things. He was a godson of Sitting Bull. He’d tell us stories about the other side of some of these historical things. Sitting Bull would tell him, “We couldn’t figure out what Custer and those idiots were doing. We just had no clue what they had in mind.”
Joe: Who was your other writing instructor there? I was trying to remember.
Neal: Dwight Swain. Dwight Swain and Foster Harris. Foster Harris wrote for the Saturday Evening Post. Now, I’ve got to tell you, I love Oklahoma, but I tried several years to get in touch with those people up there. I worked for the Oklahoma Publishing Co., owned by the Gaylord family, when I got out of college. Ed Gaylord was just a kid my age back then, and we’d have coffee together. Now, they’ve got the Ed Gaylord Journalism school up there. It’s a pretty big deal. So, I tried to get in touch with (the school) and give them my archives, and they said, “Well, we’ll get in touch with you.” Now, Texas State, they were happy to have my archives. I don’t mind telling that out loud because –
Joe: Because you got dissed by Oklahoma.
Neal: I’ve not no great feelings about that because I was close to all those people at the school. I majored in professional writing. At that time, when you took that major, you took the short story one semester and you wrote a short story. The next, you took the novel and you wrote a novel. You didn’t screw around with those creative writing exercises.
Joe: That’s the way I teach. You make ‘em write.
Neal: Well, you can’t get a job now as a writing teacher unless you have your master’s. I tried to do that several times, tried to get a teaching job. I’d say, “Well, I’ve written 50 books.” “You don’t have a master’s now do you? Need to get that degree.”
See also Out on the Curb, an essay by Mr. Barrett about his influences.
Ask Dr. Sciense
From 1998-2000 Neal Barrett, Jr. wrote a column for Amazing Stories magazine (now-defunct) called Ask Dr. Sciense. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database entry for Mr. Barrett (see "Essays" section near the end) lists nine installments of the column having run.
Southwestern Writers Collection
A collection of Mr. Barrett's papers resides in the Southwestern Writers Collection (Special Collections) at the Alkek Library at Texas State University-San Marcos, as described in A Guide to the Neal Barrett, Jr., Papers. The collection, donated by Mr. Barrett in 1992, is also documented on this page at The Whitcliff Collections web site, including an additional donation of papers and books by Barrett in 2008. A detailed inventory of each box of materials is included.
The Neal Barrett, Jr. Wikipedia article is a little sparse at the time of this writing, but is is still worth checking out.
Internet Speculative Fiction Database
The Neal Barrett, Jr. Internet Speculative Fiction Database entry is a good bibliographic resource. The book list is near complete, but is missing some of the more obscure items that Neal Barrett fans might like to track down, like a Daniel Boone novel that is actually a great read.
Subterranean Press has been one of the most important supporters of Neal Barrett Jr. in recent years, publishing some very fine editions and bringing his work to the attention of more readers through pieces published in the Subterranean and Subterranean Online magazine (see links below).
Most recently, at the time of this writing Subterranean is taking pre-orders for Other Seasons: The Best of Neal Barrett, Jr., a new retrospective collection to be released as a limited edition of 750. Other titles include the short novel Piggs (click here for a chapter excerpt (PDF)), a collection of early short stories called A Different Vintage, and the chapbook The Day the Decorators Came.
Golden Gryphon Press
Golden Gryphon Press published the 2000 short story collection Perpetuity Blues and Other Stories and the 2004 novel Prince of Christler-Coke.
The unfortunately short-lived Mojo Press, based in Austin, TX, published an important reprint of The Hereafter Gang, which was at the time out of print from its original publication by the Mark V. Ziesing publishing company. Barrett's comic script "Heilage Nacht" was produced in Weird Business, a 1995 black-and-white comics anthology from Mojo Press. In 1999, Mojo published a new Barrett novel, Interstate Dreams (see links to reviews and related interviews below).
Overlook Connection Books
The Overlook Connection has long maintained a good stock of collectible and out of print Neal Barrett, Jr. items. Dave's inventory of collectible books covers a diverse array of authors, but he's been one of the few to specialize in the cluster of authors related to Barrett, Lansdale, and Vachss, among others. One of the prize items in my collection is a signed set of the orginal four Aldair paperbacks, purchased from Dave at Overlook Connection, who went to the trouble to collect a set of fine copies of these books in the first place, and then to visit Mr. Barrett's home in order to have them signed. Thank you, Dave, for making Neal Barrett, Jr. one of your specialties.