Upcoming, Jandek appears September 17
Apart from a post office box address in Houston, Texas, very little is known about the reclusive person behind the cult phenom known as Jandek ; this despite the fact that he has independently recorded and released 45 engagingly creepy albums over the past 28 years and performed some 16 shows since his shocking stage debut at Glasgow's Instal 04 festival in October 2004.
He makes his first-ever public appearance in Canada at the Centre of Gravity (1300 Gerrard East) on Sunday (September 17) at 7 pm. To mark the momentous occasion, Arkansas writer Danen Jobe reads excerpts from his forthcoming Jandek book, Niagra Blues: Slingerland (Single Cell), at Circus Books (253 Gerrard East) on Monday (September 18) at 6 pm.
Appropriately enough, it's a fictional account of Jandek's life. Just as Michael Ondaatje used his imagination to fill in the gaping holes in the life history of legendary New Orleans cornet great Buddy Bolden in his 1976 novel Coming Through Slaughter, Jobe uses the expansive Jandek oeuvre and his personal knowledge of the Southern experience as his raw material to craft a faux biography that makes for a very entertaining read.
Just don't count on Jobe revealing the identity of the man who only ever refers to himself as "a representative of Corwood Industries." His book isn't a tell-all exposé, but it has been sanctioned by Corwood Industries.
"That Ondaatje book really opened my eyes to what could be done with a fictional biography," says Jobe from his home in Winslow, Arkansas. "My goal was to write a novel with a local angle, and something about Jandek's music seemed like it could've come out of a lonely place in the backwoods of rural Arkansas.
"So I wrote Corwood Industries about my crazy idea for a book, half expecting to get back a two-word reply like 'No thanks,' but instead I got a very enthusiastic several-page response, with one page detailing what he expected, saying that he had no problem with my using album and song titles, lyrics and music descriptions just as long as I cross-referenced all the sources and I called it a work of fiction.
"He didn't give me any parameters, but from our correspondence I did glean some interesting information that brought me much closer to the character I was trying to find."
Some might surmise from Jobe's contact with the Corwood representative that this Jandek book is not a work of fiction but really a factual account with some of the names changed to protect the guilty parties.
Jobe laughs off the suggestion. "Actually, I've already received a note from a woman who claimed just that. She wrote, 'I know what you're up to -- this is secretly the real Jandek story, because he wouldn't have sanctioned it if it weren't true.'
"The funny thing is, it's just the opposite -- if I wanted to write the real story, he probably would've done all he could to stop me. There are things in the book relevant to his music that he's told me -- and he's fine with that, because he's read the book and gave me a very positive review -- but I was careful not to reveal anything biographical. That wasn't the point."