Tag Archives: Patrick deWitt

A Few Steps Closer

Friends! An update on the novel. It’s coming out in November! I finished the copy edits recently (about 14 hours of work–made me realize I still have a few things to learn) and my editor (Hi, Masie!) and I have been receiving some ultra-sweet blurbs from beautiful folks like Jillian Lauren, Patrick deWitt, Davy Rothbart, Lidia Yuknavitch, Amelia Gray, and Jess Walter.

You can see info about it on Goodreads already.

Go add it to your “to-read” list.

Next up, Tin House will print up some review copies and give them to some folks at Book Expo (May 29th-June 2nd) in New York. I will also be there! In fact, I’ll be doing a reading on June 1st while I’m there. More details to come on that. My friend Polly Bresnick is setting up something killer.

Here’s what the review copies will look like…

645

What have I been reading lately?

The amazing new Nick Flynn memoir, The Reenactments, the strange short stories of I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro, the new Future Tense Scout Book series 😉 and The Stud Book by Monica Drake.

What I can’t wait to read next:

TAMPA by Alissa Nutting and Big Ray by Michael Kimball.

And what I’m watching:

I thought The Place Beyond the Pines was ambitious and awesome.

The addictive and delicious TV show, Nashville.

I will be at the retrospective of my friend Vanessa Renwick’s films. (I talked about her recently on this blog for Oregon Movies, A to Z).

And I missed it the first time around, but I hope to see Brian Lindstrom’s powerful documentary, Alien Boy, asap!

Scarlett and Gunnar = <3

Nashville’s Scarlett and Gunnar = ❤

2011 is Dead. Long Live 1997.

Hey–First off, I have new little stories at Unshod Quills and Hart House Review!

And since 2011 is just about over, I thought I should post a little year-end thingamajig. A few of my favorite things:

Novels: Donald Ray Pollack’s The Devil All the Time and Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers were both pretty kick-ass rough and tumble kind of novels and both steeped in a dark Americana style.

Mr. deWitt

Short story collection: How many times do I have to tell you. Lutz is a master. Divorcer simply destroys.

Memoir: Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy. So, yeah, it was all popular like ten years ago but I just finally read it and it’s pretty awesome. Some people say the Ann Patchett book, Truth & Beauty (about her friendship with Grealy) is even better. Can’t wait to read that one. I’m sad that Grealy is not around anymore.

Poetry: Gregory Sherl is the new leading man of the drug-addled emo poetry scene. Does that make it sound bad? I hope not. Because it’s beautiful. He’s also kind of like the Rob Pollard of the lit world now too–so many books coming out (including Monogamy Songs from Future Tense, summer 2012), so many words coming out of him.

Surprise Manuscript: Chloe Caldwell sent me a query in 2010 that piqued my interest enough to have her send me more stuff in 2011. In that short amount of time, her essays became even more powerful and I signed her on for a Future Tense release in spring of 2012. Legs Get Led Astray is gonna kick your butt and give you a heartache. Helping her edit her essays the past couple of months has been a constant thrill. She’s my favorite writer of personal essays. Watch out for her!

Movies: Oh, man. Has it been a shitty stretch of years for film? It feels like the quality of movies is down lately. I did really like Drive (like everyone else, I know) and Buck was great as well. My favorite DVD release was definitely Dogtooth, the strange and brilliant Greek film about a fucked-up family in a world all their own.

TV: There are many shows that I once really liked and have lost interest in (Dexter, Weeds, maybe even American Horror Story already) but the ones that have stayed awesome are Breaking Bad and Mad Men (in other words, the usual suspects). The saddest goodbye this year was for Friday Night Lights, one of the greatest and most realistic shows about small town living and family life to ever be on TV. Luckily though, FNL writer Jason Katims also does the AWESOME show Parenthood, which has a lot of the same great qualities of FNL. I never miss it–and yeah, I have a crush on Lauren Graham. So what?

Lauren

Music: I feel like I got more and more behind on the music scene this year. I’m just not as on top of it as I used to be. I remember people would ask me, ten or fifteen years ago: How do you find out about all these cool bands that you listen to? I would usually answer that I hung out at listening stations a lot, had friends with record store jobs, and that I read a lot of music magazines (NME and Melody Maker, Copper Press, Spin, or whatever). Now my answer is: the library. I get stuff at the library all the time. Just recently, I snagged a CD by Sarah Jaffe, thinking it was my friend Sara Jaffe. It wasn’t, but now I have a new favorite singer. Also discovered this year: Ayvett Brothers, Blind Pilot, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and I got to interview The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee for Relix Magazine, which was cool. My 17-year-old son has reached the point where he’s listening to all these weird bands I’ve never even heard of.

The Decemberists

There were a lot of other personal highlights in 2011 as well. Getting married to B. Frayn Masters in January was a beautiful moment that keeps turning into more beautiful moments.

Married Bliss Attack!

Now come on, 2012!

I’m reading at If Not For Kidnap on a special Friday night edition, January 20th. I’m joined by Bryan Coffelt, poet, designer, Future Tense co-hort, and 49ers fan. There will also be Edward Mullany, a musical guest, and a secret special surprise reader at this event. Not to mention booze. House readings: They’re the best.

Alright, folks. Have a great Christmas and New Year.

love,

Kevin

Scott McClanahan: What’s Up With Those Book Covers?

When I discovered the stories of Scott McClanahan last year, I was instantly enthralled with his natural storytelling voice and freaky funny tales. There’s no pretense to Scott’s work. It’s like you’re just dropped right into the middle of these fantastic and true stories. It’s like a sweet blend of my favorite southern writers, Larry Brown and Harry Crews. Reading McClanahan is like listening to a good friend telling you his best real-life stories on your back porch on a humid night. And you both got a nice whiskey buzz going.

And I’m going to take a wild guess and say that’s what this Friday night at Ampersand will be like. Scott makes his first northwest appearance at a special outdoor, back patio reading with Portlanders Patrick deWitt (The Brothers Sisters) and Jenny Forrester (Guns, God, and Irony). It starts at 7:30 and there’s free beer from Ninkasi. A good time and hella-great stories are guaranteed. He’s also reading in Seattle on Saturday night.

But what’s up with those covers?! I didn’t mind the first one but the 2nd and 3rd books from the West Virginian sport the weirdest, goofiest cover images I’ve seen in a while.

I looooove Scott McClanahan like a brother, but I had to have a heart-to-heart with him about those covers and other stuff. Here’s what he had to say…

Mr. McClanahan

I like your first book cover, but I thought the 2nd one was kind of gross. Probably because I have a thing about feet (it’s somewhere between a fetish and an aversion). It took me forever to realize there are six toes on that foot. Where the heck did you get this image and why the heck did you put it on a book cover?

To be honest, I just stole it.   I’m actually in the middle of a lawsuit right now over it.   We have the Holler Presents lawyers working it out.   This is going to be a landmark case though and set a real precedent for people who want to use a foot with six toes on it for a book cover.   I’ll keep you posted.

I decided to use this picture for the cover of Stories II because originally there was a story in the book called “Six Toed Russell.”   It was about a friend of mine who had six toes on both feet.  We used to go into coal miner bars and bet drunken rednecks that Russell had six toes.   There is no better way to get free beer than when your buddy has six toes.   The story “Six Toed Russell” was eventually cut from the book, so I was kind of stuck with the cover.

It’s not a joke or anything.   That image feels like a religious image to me, or like a totem of some sort (I’d throw the other covers into this as well).   There was a group of ancient people here in West Virginia called the mound builders.   The National Geographic Society unearthed one of their burial mounds in the early part of the 20th century and they found the skeleton of a man who stood 8 feet tall (8 and a half in heels).   There was evidence in the tomb that this man had been treated like a king in his lifetime, and then worshipped like a god afterwards.

I think genetic abnormalities pretty much explain all religion when it comes down to it—Shiva, Osiris, etc.

Genetic abnormalities make good book covers.

What’s the deal with the cover of Stories V. I looked at it for a while trying to figure out if there was a joke in there somewhere, like maybe she had three ears or a mustache but I didn’t see either. What kind of creepy sexist bullshit is this, man?

My first response to this question would be, “How do you know it’s a woman?”

We were going for a Myron/Myra Breckenridge vibe.   I’ve always described the individual on the cover as “a person.”   It’s the folks on the blogs who keep bitching about “the woman” on the cover.

The problem was we picked the picture (we had a few to choose from) without a real prominent adam’s apple (instead of picking the one where it was obvious).   We decided to be subtle and being subtle always creates confusion.   You have to bang people over the head with something before they get it.

Of course, you should never underestimate the self righteousness of identity politics or independent literature for that matter.   We live in a world of being ashamed about our secret feelings—our secret lusts, desires, objectifications, prejudices, the nasty little parts of ourselves we don’t want to fess up to having.   We can show scars, but we can’t show our pimples.   There are so many Jerry Falwells out there labeling things, and 90% of the time they don’t even understand the objects they’re labeling.

Covers should confront you, piss you off, and contradict what’s in between their pages.   I say let’s bury good taste once and for all.    

What do you think will be on your next book cover?

I’m starting to like the idea of just a face.   I don’t even like the idea of my name on the book or the title of the book anymore.   I also hate blurbs. I think we should pick books the way we choose our mates.  So I think we should just have covers of our ugly faces.   I’m tired of people hiding behind abstract art covers and “pseudonyms.”  

I write under the name my mommy gave me.   We should publish our books under the face our mother gave us too.

There’s a great cover Grove Press did with the Complete Plays of Joe Orton where it’s just this extreme close-up of Orton’s face.  I like that.

Mr. Gian Ditrapano has some great ideas for the cover of Hill William though, but I’ll hold those cards close to my chest right now.

What are your favorite book covers lately?

The cover for Jamie Iredell’s Book of Freaks is great (and I’m not just saying that because of who is asking the questions).    I love the covers Sam Pink has been doing with his Lazy Fascist Press books.   There’s an energy to those covers that the minimalism of the moment just can’t touch.   Tao Lin’s Richard Yates and Mike Young’s Look! Look! Feathers! are pretty amazing covers too.

We’re living in an age of prog-rock when it comes to covers. We need to punch it in the face. No more paintings of animals! No more line drawings! No more brown! Please!

Nobody is buying these books anyway, so let’s have some fun.

 Are you excited about coming to the northwest?

I couldn’t be more excited   I feel like Lewis and Clark.   I have such a horrible fear of flying that it’s ridiculous though.   I get on a plane a couple of times a year and each time it’s a panic attack.   I’ve tried flying drunk or drugged up, but then it’s just being drunk or drugged up and having a panic attack.

I always hear Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways” in my head when I fly, or the last line the Holly character from the movie Labamba says, “Don’t worry, Richie.   The sky belongs to the stars.”  

Of course, then they fall from the sky.

I’m getting ready to have a panic attack right now.  Stop thinking about Buddy Holly.   Stop thinking about Buddy Holly. Think Lewis and Clark.  Think Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark it is!