Mark Sa Franko - Writing Style - Hating Olivia and Lounge Lizard

Hating Olivia and Lounge Lizard

SaFranko’s recent novels have concentrated on ‘Max Zajack’, SaFranko literary alter-ego. The author refutes suggestions that the books are memoirs depicting 100% truth: “I've never written a memoir, or anything close. Autobiographical or confessional novels, yes, but no memoirs.” However, in both Hating Olivia and Lounge Lizard, Zajack bears the scars of SaFranko’s life and philosophy.

Events shift between lust, obsession, violence and the furious desire to become an “artist”. Zajack becomes a “dangerously alienated” sociopath, unable to fit into conventional life. “Frankly, I’m lucky I survived them. I think I had a mental breakdown and was hanging by a thread, but nobody put me away. Then the thread got cut and I went into free fall. That’s when I became a writer.”

Hating Olivia is based on SaFranko’s young adulthood and a love–hate relationship with his lover, named ‘Olivia Aphrodite’. As ‘Aphrodite’ suggests, she is the goddess-like image of beauty. But like Zajack, her mental state is volatile, leading to physical and mental abuse from both parties. SaFranko claims: “I couldn’t even go near the material for ten years after the events. I always felt it was going to be a novel, but I just wasn’t ready to deal with it.

Hating Olivia was critically well received and has achieved a small but dedicated cult following in the UK and US, led by a glowing review in the high-circulation Bizarre Magazine: “The words 'raw,' 'brutal,' 'addictive' and 'brilliant' are so overused they have almost lost their meaning, but they are fitting descriptions of a memoir from a very, very talented author.”

Hating Olivia’s sequel Lounge Lizard charts Zajack’s further descent. Echoing SaFranko’s attempt to integrate into the “corporate machine” in 1980s’ New York, Zajack sinks into a grinding job for AT&T, a leading telecommunications company. His only release is in a series of one-night stands and affairs with women met in NY clubs. Zajack’s desire to become an artist is lost in a sea of work and sex, until he is forced to rediscover himself: “My interactions with people had robbed me of my sense of self until I had no idea who I was anymore – if I ever did in the first place. It was nobody’s fault: losing yourself was a simple consequence of living with human beings, and the closer you got to them, the more they depleted you.”

Further Zajack novels are said to be in the pipeline.

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