1. Tell me a little about yourself—name, profession, home, family, the usual.
I’m Gilgamesh. You know, the King of Uruk, two-thirds god, one-third human. The hero of the first ever piece of literature. No? Man, what do they teach you in the 21st century? The Epic of Gilgamesh is just what it says on the front tablet: it’s epic and it’s about me. I’m also a special guest star in Jordan Morris’s novel Round and Round.
2. What happened to you, so you ended up in this crazy adventure the novel talks about?
Back in my day there was only one story – mine. But now, the past is full of stories. So Round and Round is ‘inter-textual.’ My Epic of Gilgamesh was told over twelve tablets, just as Round and Round is told in twelve chapters. If you read Tablet 11 and Chapter 11, they’re basically the same story, except one is about me and my grandfather, Utnapishtim, five thousand years ago, and the other is about Noah, the teenage kid whose granddad has been reincarnated into today. The novel asks us to question if we’re doomed to repeat our mistakes time after time, or if we can break the cycle. Round and Round is about mortality and immortality, power and powerlessness, friendship and love. I know all about that stuff. Once I swam all the way down to the sea bed, from which I plucked boxthorn – the plant of immortality. I was totally going to share it with the rest of mankind. But a serpent stole it from me. That’s why snakes can shed their skin to become young again, but we can’t. They’re a recurring motif in Round and Round – snakes – particularly the symbol of one eating its own tail: that thing seems to be popping up all over the place.
3. So do you ship Dora-Bastian (Eclipse) or Evie-Bastian (Evian)?
Okay, so the other protagonists in the novel are Noah’s best mate Bastian; Noah’s sister, Evie; and her BFF, Dora. As I told you I know all about friendship and love. Pulling every girl in Uruk used to be part of the daily grind for me as king, if you know what I mean. Ishtar – the goddess of love – proposed to me, and I turned her down. Treat ’er mean and keep ’er dad sending bulls to kill you, I always say. That’s one of the problems with Bastian – he’s too obvious. That guy has been gaga over Dora since the day they met, and he’s blind to the fact Evie actually likes him. She’s a sure thing; Dora is a challenge. So do I ship Eclipse or Evian? Let me tell you a story.
When I was young, I dreamt of a shooting star that fell to Uruk, so grand and monumental that even I could not move it. The meteorite was the only thing that could ever rival my own awesomeness, and I loved it. My mother said the dream was a prophesy of the great friend I would one day have – my equal – Enkidu. As I say in Round and Round, “Enkidu pointed out my injustices, made me see my faults. He made me a great leader of men. And women. From that day, I did everything with Enkidu at my side. Together we logged the forbidden cedar forest and built a monumental gate for our city. We decapitated the demon Humbaba and slew Gugulanna the bull of heaven. Enkidu was my best friend, my soulmate. And then the gods decided to kill him.” I ultimately learned that great friendship – like the shooting star in the sky of my dreamscape – is ephemeral. Which is why I ship Noah-Bastian. Mates before maidens, that’s what I say.