At this in-person event, Nainers will be joined by author + publisher Jaimen Shires, illustrator + musician Chance, Jew’s Harp musician Dr. Deirdre Morgan, and comedian Em Cooper for an evening to celebrate storytelling, and to discuss the hope of a newer, friendlier and weirder conversation about gender.
Registration is free, open to all and mandatory for entrance.
It’s Gonna Be Sick As Hell! by Nate Nate Nainers will be available for purchase at the event.
In anticipation for the launch of It’s Gonna Be Sick As Hell!, Rafael Zen interviews Nate Nate Nainers for Massy Arts Society. The author discusses working-class masculinity and how this book acts as a love letter to “the bros.”
Why the title “It’s Gonna Be Sick As Hell!”? What do you think it evokes from what readers will encounter in your writings?
I wanted my book’s first impression to be playful and irreverent because my book was written with the attitude of a B movie director. I used to take myself much too seriously when I came to the page, but while watching campy horror and sci-fi movies, I was inspired by how much fun everyone involved must have had while working on them.
Letting go of big L Literary standards I learned in university cut off the inner try-hard from my writing, which naturally led to more authentic expression and discovery. I am pleased to discover that I am, at my natural state, a fucking wierdo, which can only mean that my book will, indeed, be sick as hell!
Also, “it’s going to be sick as hell!” is quite bro-forward language, which I like because in a sense this book is a love letter to all the bros I’ve met, and even been, as I discovered myself in my gender queerness. I really do hope that some guy still listening to Limp Bizkit stumbles across my book and realizes there is more to life than the nookie.
Your launch event is an evening to celebrate storytelling, and to discuss the hope of a newer, friendlier and weirder conversation about gender. What is this new conversation you wish to have around gender–and why is it time to make gender weirder?
If we believe that gender is a construct, or a spectrum, or a performance, or all of these, then I think we need to make room for unique selves. And if it’s unique, then it deviates from the norm. And if we call that deviation weird, that usually means we don’t entirely know how we feel about it. The space of weirdness before a subject becomes familiar (loved or hated), is vital for a community to become robust, vibrant, and resilient, because we do not grow without challenges.
My gender philosophy is “Gorgeous,” and my gender expression is usually a bearded lady. I don’t know that many people with that combo, and neither does the suburb of Maple Ridge, but since walking around in dresses, Maple Ridge has gone from gawking, and scowling and taking unsolicited photos, to now mostly ignoring me but sometimes I really do get some smiles and compliments. But at the end of the day, I am growing with every dress I wear to the gas station.
Why write a collection of stories about working-class masculinity? In this sense, what would masculinity be? What would a masculine or feminine voice be? Do you feel like your voice, to fit in the literary market, was pushed to show itself within a gender?
There are just so many types of men in working-class environments. There’s the definitely-not-gay-bad-boys, the stoner jocks, the frial creeps, the large and in charge shout talkers, the sensitive sad boys, the stoic alcoholics, the socially conscious try hards, the dreaded hippies, the martial arts control freaks, the beer and hockey wash outs, the never-had-their-moment-to-shine pyramid schemers – the list goes on as it will always go on, and in these work settings they are hyper expressed because there’s barely any women or enbies around. Each man thinks they know what it means to be a man (which happens to be how they’re a man), so they are always stating their case because they need to be acknowledged by their peers to feel respected. And it seems they would rather be respected for a performance than to connect while being real.
Which is pretty dismal when I reflect on that paragraph, but so many men really do struggle with depression and suicide because they are socialized to “stay strong,” which is to say, “emotionally divorce yourself from your underlying or even on-the-surface issues.” And so many men in these working-class jobs do not have the financial access to therapies or counseling, mainly because they are caught in the expensive and vicious cycle of substance abuse, which they are also socialized to be in.
So, in a sense, my book is offering joy and calm where there is grief and turmoil because I am tired of writing to reflect realities, and would rather spend my efforts dreaming of spiritually gay fantasies to replace the programming I was given for how my genitals were shaped at birth.
If you could choose one piece of text from the book to share with our readers, one that you feel represents this title’s tone and theme, what would this piece be? Why this one? (For this answer, please send a piece of writing from the book)
The following monologue is from a jock doing mdma for the first time in front of the homphobic narrator. I like it because the context is absurd, yet the message is wholesome, and it’s this line that I like to walk in this book. Enjoy!
“I want to be telling a story. A real story. I want to tell a story about life. Not just the epic moments, but stories that inspire me to be a full human. Sometimes they’re funny, and sometimes they’re sad, and I want everyone to laugh, and I want everyone to be sad. And during the sad parts I’ll assure everyone that the story won’t be sad forever. And just when I finish my story, you all surprise me with the cake. I didn’t know you would do that. I didn’t know you would write that you love me. And I will be so happy. And you will all hug me saying that it’s true.
“Then, after I cut the cake, you all take turns telling me your stories about your favourite moment with me. One by one, they’re not all long stories, but they’re warm stories. Some make me laugh. Some make me cry. They all bring up a vibe that is unique to our broship. And after the very last story, we eat our cake and talk about how stoked we are that we’re here.
“Then I grab my beer, and no, no kegs. Just a few beers each. I grab my beer and stand up and I give a speech about how much you all mean to me. How I hold you all in my heart and look forward to many more years as bros. Everyone claps and says, “hear, hear,” and “we love you Fridge,” and “you really are the darndest birthday bro.”
“Then the voices dim, and there is a comfortable silence. But Clay, that crazy fucker, he jumps up and yells, ‘LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED!’ And we start bumping the beats and pounding our chests, and we just dance, bro. We just dance. We dance like mad men. Then we dance like animals. Then we dance like something out of a fantasy book. We’re dancing like elves, and gnomes, and fairies, and mermaids, and wizards, and witches, and kings, and queens, and jesters, and travelers, and dragons, and giants, and heroes, bro. We dance like we’re heroes from some ancient saga where we slew the demons in the forest. And we go on like this, laughing and laughing and laughing, until it’s too dark to see our smiles.”