Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”
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Interview with former “Tennessean” book reviewer Roy E. Perry on the works of Joseph Conrad
by Dave Carew
Roy E. Perry of Nolensville, Tennessee was a freelance book reviewer for the Nashville Banner and The Tennessean for more than thirty years. Now retired, Mr. Perry is a devotee of the works of Friedrich Nietzsche and a passionate reader of great literature. In a recent series of e-mail discussions with Underground Nashville, Mr. Perry discussed the current “kick” he is on reading many of the works of Joseph Conrad. Underground Nashville caught up with Mr. Perry to ask him what lies behind his passionate reading of Conrad, and why others might find these literary works of particular interest and value.
UNDERGROUND NASHVILLE: Why are you devoting so much of your reading time these days to the works of Joseph Conrad? What is the principal attraction?
ROY E. PERRY: Conrad’s novels have the ring of truth. So much stuff nowadays is trivial and shallow, without substance or connection to “the human condition.” A biographer calls Conrad the most consistently and persistently pessimistic of novelists, with the possible exception of Kafka. And this assessment is true; Conrad IS extremely pessimistic. But he is also realistic.
UN: How is that realism made manifest in his fiction?
RP:Conrad is not only a deep philosopher—with a world view and perspective both challenging and provocative—he also is an awesome psychologist. Like Nietzsche and Shakespeare, Conrad delves deeply into the hidden, mysterious springs and motivations—both good and bad—of his characters. Villains and heroes; Conrad acutely portrays them all.
UN: How would you characterize Conrad’s craft as a writer?
RP:Conrad is an impressive wordsmith; his poetic prose is nothing less than beautiful. The way he puts words together and paints a captivating scene, object, [aspect of] weather, or personality is characteristic only of those who have attained the highest possibilities of their craft.
David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.” He also is a freelance book editor, publicist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.