‘Hear Us Fade’: La Jolla author’s second novel explores crises with comedy
Despite the focus on crises connected to geopolitical and climate related issues and how they impact our daily lives, La Jollan David Hogan said his second novel, “Hear Us Fade,” is heavy with humor — from physical comedy to puns.
“Hear Us Fade,” published in June, is about “six people living [10 years] in the future,” Hogan said, “where I take the trends that are happening today: social media, fires, floods, and just carry it out. All these people live in and around San Francisco, and the fires are coming down from the east and the floods are coming in, and … there’s political unrest, civil unrest.”
“In some great sense, I think the book’s about how [these crises we face make] our day-to-day lives more and more farcical,” as people in the book go about their daily lives despite the threats associated with climate change and civil unrest, he said. “The crisis is there, and sort of dealt with, but almost unacknowledged in the same way that we live our lives without acknowledging [these issues].”
Towards the end of the novel “the events of the day take their toll,” he said. “I guess the message would be that we are living our lives that are somewhat farcical, and it’s going to come get us at the end.”
Hogan’s first novel, “The Last Island,” also explores how people address “a broader outside world coming in … and affecting the lives of individual people.”
Published in 2013, “The Last Island” is about a Boston firefighter with a troubled past who moves to a small Greek island and meets an animal rights activist who becomes embroiled “in the politics of the island as an outsider,” he said.
“I wanted to capture that moment of an island changing from its traditional nature, which it had been for so many thousands of years, of fishermen and a village … to the modern world,” he said. “There are people that want to embrace tourism, and there are people that want it to remain the way it is.”
Both of his novels, Hogan said, address how global issues — like capitalism or climate change — impact the dynamics of individual lives, “pointing out what happens and what might be good or bad, and how do people adjust and live within that.”
These global issues are “preying on individual lives,” he said. “Novels are about people, and all of us are, to some extent, caught up in the greater forces [such as climate change] around us.”
“I think to some extent, we’ve been lucky enough to avoid the greater forces in history for a moment,” Hogan said. “We need to be able to face the greater forces that are coming and address them, and so far, I don’t know that my generation has had to do that.”
Hogan said “one of the things I’m most proud of in [Hear Us Fade], and what I strove for, is the tone,” adding the book incorporates events that are “darkly funny” within its story, which begins with two people who kidnap the governor “to get him to issue a stay of execution and end up killing him.”
“I needed [the humor] with this serious backdrop of the climate crisis,” Hogan said. “It’s largely a comedy.”
He said the story is based on a play he wrote years ago called “Capital,” which was inspired by a bumper sticker he saw that read “Why do we kill people who kill people to show people that killing people is wrong?” in reference to capital punishment.
“I was thinking about the illogic of that … and I thought we were living in a world where the irony and illogic is just getting piled on top of each other. … We’re tumbling into a world of irony upon irony,” he said.
Hogan said he often leans into humor as a playwright. “One thing about plays that are humorous as opposed to serious plays,” he said, “is if you’re sitting in the audience, you know if it’s working. People are laughing.”
Hogan said he gauges humor in his writing by running scenes by his wife, his sister and other friends, but “first, it’s got to make me laugh.”
He said he incorporated as many types of humor into “Hear Us Fade” as he could, from physical slapstick-style comedy to puns and “high level humor.”
“I very much enjoyed … trying to make it as funny as I can,” he said.
He’s currently working on his third novel, which will employ suspense and focus on “a unique scientific discovery that’s changed the world,” he said.
Hogan said “I feel there’s just stories that I want to say, and I feel compelled to say them.”
“Hear Us Fade” is available for $15.95 at bit.ly/HearUsFade. ◆
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