The Withdrawal Method
“Film About Dads”
Pasha Malla’s “The Film We Made About Dad’s” is from his debut collection, THE WITHDRAWAL METHOD, (Softskull Press, 2009) which won the Trillium Award, the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, was was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book (Canada/Caribbean), and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The Withdrawal Method, which the jury praised as “an assured and mature first collection.” Malla is a regular contributor ot McSweeney’s. Pasha Malla was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, grew up in London, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Malla was interviewed by Bookslut when the American edition was released:
BS: Let’s start with the book’s title. Why did you decide to call it The Withdrawal Method?
PM: Ha, well, I’ve been asked this question a bunch and I have a pretty stock answer that’s only really a half-truth… I guess my hope is that people will bring their own readings to the book, and I don’t want to be prescriptive with my interpretations of what anything means. But, you know, it’s not arbitrary, either. I definitely put a lot of thought into a title that would speak to the unifying themes and ideas of the stories, at least as I see them, and my feeling is that this one works on a number of levels.
BS: Your stories seem to maintain a fine balance between fantastical comedy and bittersweet reality. Where do you think you developed this voice?
PM: I guess I’m just trying to convey my own experience of the world. I don’t think the voice is something I consciously developed, necessarily, but more a natural reflection of who I am as a person—or at least who I WAS in my mid-twenties, when I wrote the bulk of these stories. And that to me is what I like, somewhat narcissistically, about the book: it’s a nice document for me of a certain time and place in my life, much more honest than photographs or a journal or anything where I’m explicitly explaining myself to anyone. I think the stuff I’ve written in the past that now feels particularly cringe-inducing is anything that purports to be autobiography.
BS: Your writing has been compared to that of Lorrie Moore, Haruki Murakami, and George Saunders. Do you draw influence from them yourself as well?
PM: Sure, these are definitely writers I’ve read and liked. There’s a lot to admire about all of them.