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Three recent novels by Stephen Graham Jones, Attica Locke and Michael Farris Smith through the lens of Repo Man and True Detective:
There's a scene in Repo Man where a car-lot attendant explains to a young repo man how the world operates, a worldview he calls the "lattice of coincidence."
"Suppose you're thinkin' about a plate of shrimp," he says. "Suddenly someone'll say, like, 'plate' or 'shrimp' or 'plate of shrimp' out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."
Lately, my plate of shrimp has been True Detective. It's been at least six weeks since the season finale and I can't stop thinking about the show. I see it everywhere—even in the books I read. But is it me, or is it the "cosmic unconsciousness"? Because the last three books I read all contained uncanny echoes of True Detective.
One of the strangest things that happened to me last year was a bout of vertigo that literally knocked me on my ass while I was in Walla Walla, Washington interviewing Scott Campbell, Jr. for our book, Giving the Finger. The whole story is in the new issue of Razorcake, which also features a rad interview with punk pop phenom Tony Molina, an oral history of East L.A. punk curated by Alice Bag, and a stunning essay by Cheryl Klein.
Before he was a star on Deadliest Catch, Scott Campbell Jr. had a rocky childhood and an even more treacherous path to becoming the captain of his own vessel. He tells his story in Giving the Finger: Risking It All to Fish the World’s Deadliest Sea.
After the deer was dressed, we’d cure it out by hanging it in the rigging. We did this with all the deer, so by the end of the hunt, we’d have a pretty impressive display. If we had a half a dozen or so men aboard, and we each got our quota, we’d come back to Kodiak with thirty to forty deer hanging in the rigging.
Two new short story collections by a pair of San Diego writers.
I bought some books at the table shared by Magic Helicopter and Publishing Genius. I happened to be there when both Mike Young and Adam Robinson were there and so I was saying my hellos while selecting books in a somewhat discombobulated fashion and after I'd made my purchases someone sitting behind the table handed me If I Falter at the Gallows and instructed me to read the following:
At the top
of a dune
in the desert,
man appears, only
only to be pushed
in the back
to tumble don
the dune by
I laughed and agreed it was funny, but after a moment's hesitation I put the book down because I'd already made my purchases. I went back to the Razorcake table and at odd times throughout the day the sentence would come back and I'd wish I'd bought the book. In other words, I regretted having faltered.
The next day I went back and bought the book and have been teasing over the story/poems over the last few weeks, sometimes reading the epigrammatic sentences over and over again. I'm sure there are other writers who work in this mode but these absurd little vignettes remind me of the comedian Steven Wright, king of the deadpan non-sequittur. Highly recommended.
In the tradition of Letters to Wendy's, poet Lauren Ireland composed a series of short letters to Lil' Wayne while he was in incarcerated in 2010. Razor sharp and funny as hell, Ireland's aphoristic missives are barbed with surprises:
"Spirit animals are bullshit but I have one—it's a big huge knife."
Dear Lil' Wayne isn't out yet, but you can get a sweet deal from Magic Helicopter Press if you pre-order now, plus a chance to win even more swag from the cover designer Krysten Brown. Win/win and you don't even have to submit to a body cavity search.
There's been a ton of great writing about True Detective and its influenes in the weeks leading up to it finale on Sunday night. Here's a closer look at the ur text of True Detective source material, Robert Chambers's The King in Yellow.
An element of the supernatural hangs over the stories like black stars over Carcosa. These elements do a marvelous job of distracting the reader from the fact that none of the narrators can be believed. It matters less that their sanity has been compromised than the fact that their accounting of events is highly suspect. If you've been paying attention to True Detective, you know that the detectives' unreliability is crucial to the how the story-within-the-story unfolds.
I just got back from AWP14 in Seattle, and I brought home a ton of interesting books, journals, chapbooks and things in between: from perfect bound books from emerging presses to hand-made zines. I'm going to try to writer about as many as I can over the next few weeks. Number one on the list is A Secondary Landscpae by Aaron Gilbreath. I've been reading a lot of Aaron's work lately in places like Harper's, Vice and River Styx. A Secondary Landscape is a quiet mediatation about figuring out one's place in the world imbued with the recklessness of youth. The format is perfect: Scout Books makes little Books for Big Ideas. This 3.5"x5" literary object is made with recycled paper and vegetable inks and is a collaboration with Kevin Sampsell's micro-press Future Tense Books. It's so small I was afraid it would get lost in all the books, fliers and cards I brought home, so I read it on the plane. A Secondary Landscape is a great read for in-between places.
The latest issue of Razorcake is here! #78 has a great profile of the band that put out my favorite record of 2013, Donna Ramone’s punk guide to silent films, plus columns, comics and book, zine and record reviews by the Razorcake familia. I’ll be at the Razorcake table at AWP Seattle (O21) all weekend. Come say hello!