Jack Womack is the author of Ambient (1987), Terraplane (1988), Heathern (1990), Elvissey (1993) Random Acts of Senseless Violence (1994), Let’s Put the Future Behind Us (1996), and Going, Going, Gone (2001). The first six are available as trade paperbacks from Grove Press. The last named will be available in trade paperback in Spring 2002.
Let’s Put the Future Behind Us is set in Moscow, city of opportunity, around 1994. It is now a historical novel. The other titles are set, mostly, in two different New Yorks: one never was, but could have been; the other never will be, but may still at times come close. These six books make up a single, interrelated narrative known variously as the Dryco, or Ambient series; although the author always called it, simply if solipsistically, WomackWorld. The books of this series can be read independently, but (at this point) are best read, or re-read, in chronological succession. Random Acts is the first novel in the series; the action of Heathern takes place roughly 6 months to a year later; Ambient, 12 years after that, Terraplane, 6 years after that, Elvissey, 15 years after that; and Going, Going, Gone, the concluding volume, 14 years after that, or 48 years after the events of Random Acts. Read in this order, the larger shapes will gradually arise, and take form for the reader.
Womack’s short stories, which are few, have appeared in anthologies edited by Kathryn Cramer (Walls of Fear, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”), Ellen Datlow (A Whisper of Blood, “Lifeblood;”The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy[1991, 1994, 1997], and Little Deaths, “That Old School Tie,”), and Don Keller/Ellen Kushner/Delia Sherman (The Horns of Elfland, “Audience”); as well as in Omni (“A Kiss, A Wink, A Grassy Knoll.”). He has published articles or reviews in Spin (for which journal he covered the 1996 Russian presidential election, published in the September 1996 issue), The Washington Post Book World, Artbyte, Science Fiction Eye , Fantasy and Science Fiction, New York Review of Science Fiction, and Suddeutche Zeitung (Munich), and was a contributor to Amok: Fifth Dispatch. He wrote the afterword for the current Penguin edition of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. He has both written for and appeared on BBC 1, 2, and the World Service. His novels have been or will be soon translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Japanese, Slovakian, Polish, Greek, and Norwegian. He has no idea how any of them read, in these languages.
He is a co-winner of the Philip K. Dick Award, and has taught writing at the Clarion West workshop, in Seattle.
Womack is employed as Publicist for all science fiction and fantasy titles at HarperCollinsPublishers (US), including books from William Morrow and Eos. He is reachable at email@example.com. He is always happy to hear from his readers, but as he reads numerous manuscripts as part of the duties of his day job, he chooses not to read any at home; so don’t send him yours. Although he is happy to sign, during personal appearances, any and all copies of his books or articles in whatever way their possessors would wish to have them signed, he is wise to the ways of modern first dealers and collectors and thus now threatens to add “Dear [so and so], hope you beat that nasty crack/child porn/malt liquor/like to be whipped with birch twigs while wearing diapers habit” or something along those lines whenever people bearing large paper bags filled with multiple copies of his works instruct him to add “signature only.”
His favorite fiction writers are Ambrose Bierce, Michael Bulgakov, Anna Kavan, Shirley Jackson, Cormac McCarthy, and Vladimir Nabokov. His favorite non-fiction writers are A.J. Liebling, Joseph Mitchell, and Luc Sante. His favorite writer, and greatest influence, is Charles Fort. He realizes that his favorite comic strips, “Krazy Kat,” and “Pogo,” have played a far greater role in how he learned to maladjust the English language than did Ulysses.
Womack was born on January 8, 1956, in Lexington, Ky. His forbears, especially on his mother’s side, were a lively if at times excitable bunch. He attended Transylvania University in Lexington, briefly, before moving to New York City in 1977, where he has since resided. Womack is married to Valeria Susanina, a C.S.W, who emigrated to the US from Moscow in 1981. They own a chihuahua named Lulu, and live in Morningside Heights, in the same apartment he has occupied for twenty-two years. On Sunday mornings, the sound of the bells of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine fill their rooms. Womack once smoked a lot, but has learned his lesson and does so no longer. His parents, as of November 2001, are still alive. He tries to be kind to friends and family.
His large collection of books of eccentric thought and deed is well
regarded by the cognoscenti, and his expertise in these fields is occasionally called upon.
Womack remembers New York when every car was dented and every building sooty. He remembers when the forearms of candy store owners sometimes bore tattooed numbers, and when the crick in one’s neck was chronic, from forever glancing over one’s shoulder at whoever might be coming up from behind. He remembers when the fires in the Bronx reddened the evening skies, and the jump seats in Checker cabs, and how the West Side Local barreled into the 110th Street station as a blurred rainbow of graffitti. He wishes he could still go into Bonwit Teller, and Gimbel’s, and Scribner’s, and Louis Lichtman pastries, and Abercrombie & Fitch (the one that sold elephant guns, not the current model), and Charles & Co., and Chew’N’Sip, and the Lionel Train store on E. 23rd just off Park. He hopes that the ghosts of Rollerina, and the woman who used to sing opera at Christopher and Seventh, and the little old man who sold comic books in front of Bloomingdale’s, are at peace. He finds it hard to remember, precisely, all the places in New York from which the Trade Towers were visible.
The New York in Womack’s science fiction novels is the New York of 1977, updated in accordance with the spirit of the time.