Author Dossier 5: Catherine Gammon

This week, Catherine Gammon, author of the Artifice 4 piece, Kafka Writes to Romeo / Romeo Writes Back, shares with us spiritual wisdom at the end of the world.

Catherine Gammon’s novel Isabel Out of the Rain was published in 1991 by Mercury House, and her shorter fiction has appeared in many magazines, including Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Manoa, Agni, and Other Voices. In 2000, Catherine left the literary marketplace for ten years of residential training at San Francisco Zen Center’s Tassajara monastery and Green Gulch Farm, where in 2005 she was ordained as a Soto Zen priest by Tenshin Reb Anderson Roshi. “Kafka Writes to Romeo/Romeo Writes Back” is her first published fiction since her return to writing and reentry into the marketplace.

We think she would make a fine survivor.


1. Preferred type of apocalypse (plague, nuclear holocaust, ice age, etc.): 

Ice is nice.

2. Preferred post-apocalyptic city: 

Forest and the green woods—Pittsburgh will do.

3. Preferred anti-zombie weapon: 


4. Top five necessities to bring to the fallout shelter: 

The Brothers Karamazov, The Avatamsaka Sutra, coffee, cheese, and a zafu.

5. Describe said fallout shelter: 

Deep natural connecting caves with high walls/roof, fresh water pools, lots of fire and ventilation.

6. Who would be in your post-apocalyptic gang?

Jonathan Rhys Meyers and someone to love him.

7. You’re the new charismatic leader of a cult of your choosing. What do you wear to your first meeting?

A shaved head, a refusal to serve.

8. Spirit guide?

Manjushri, or maybe his mother.

9. If you had to eat another author (in Artifice 4 or otherwise) who would it be and why? 

There will be no cannibalism in my cult.

10. A cockroach can live several weeks with its head cut off. What does this mean to you (spiritually, existentially, etc)?

Mind is the whole body.

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