1. I had been a metal-head for a number of years by that point, so it was in my DNA, there was no way I was going to lose that. And what I got to have then was the influence of hip-hop. Hip-hop was the music that everyone was listening to in Rosedale, not to mention much of the rest of the United States, but it was just starting to really bubble up and become the popular music. And I just got to take that on as well and it was only years later that I sort of thought about it and realized both hip-hop and heavy metal are both working class male power fantasies, right? That’s all they are: ‘I sold my soul to the devil and I am now an overlord,’ or, ‘Look at my car, I got a lot of money.’ They are both about, ‘I don’t have anything but I want to get something,’ and for that reason, both of them had a great impact on me and it wasn’t so hard to take both on.

    — Victor LaValle on being a metal head and getting into hip hop

  2. Victor LaValle

    heavy metal

    hip hop

    Fresh Air

  1. Victor LaValle Loves Monsters, Especially Godzilla

    What’s beautiful about Godzilla is, of course, it’s in every way a symbol of Japan dealing with the aftermath of the atomic bombs being dropped on them, and their ideas of how they’re affected by it. But rather than make a movie where they sit around and say, ‘Man, that was really rough, those bombs really did a lot of damage,’ they said, ‘What did it feel like? It felt like a 100 foot-tall giant lizard came through our city and crushed it.’ And I really felt I understood that experience to some degree. I really connected with that fear and that power because, at times, when I was a kid, I would say the chaos in my household — the chaos in my life — felt very much like a 100-foot reptile crushing everyone and everything.

    —Victor LaValle on his love of monsters

  2. Victor LaValle

    The Devil in Silver

    Godzilla

    Fresh Air

  1. I had a pretty bad time when I was an undergraduate at Cornell University. I failed out of school. I was much, much heavier. I was doing very poorly, certainly academically, but even mentally…I’ve never been institutionalized, [but] it doesn’t mean I haven’t had brushes with real psychological problems — I just was never hospitalized for it.

    And I managed to graduate after working pretty hard through some summer courses, but at the end of that time, I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do or where I was going to go because I was just a mess in every way. I had destroyed myself, is the truth of it…I had tried to do myself in in various ways and then to my utter surprise, some people who were close to me suggested that maybe I talk to someone, I get a little help, and I found some people who helped me out…they did a lot for me, they helped me psychologically and quite frankly, even just to feel like you [I] can do this thing you [I] want to do, which was write, and I wasn’t really believing I could do that either.

    — Victor LaValle on his own mental health

  2. Victor LaValle

    mental health

    The Devil in Silver

    Fresh Air