Just One Question is a new series in which I pose just one question to a Hot Pants author about their work. This episode features Jeff Landon whose flash collection Truck Dance was published last year by Matter Press. In this collection Jeff never fails to impress with a cast of utterly lovable characters trying hard to be loved.
Jennifer: We crave fiction with trouble in it. So many of the characters in Truck Dance have made mistakes, experienced failure, and seem to carry around meaningful regret. Yet, we see clearly that each of them has maintained their dignity–something not everyone in life is able to do. I think we’ve taken the maxim “failure is not an option” a bit too far. What do you think?
Jeff: If failure is not an option, we are doomed. To live is to screw up, in big or small ways, over and over, and then, to repair. Some regrets, of course, hit harder, and stick around longer. We make mistakes, we hurt people, and ourselves, in so many ways around here. But if we care about people (even strangers) and honestly do feel regret, it levels some of the harm. In fiction, I like the idea of taking decent people, and dropping some trouble into their lives, because, you’re right, we do crave that. It’s sort of like there’s this huge community of people out there, joined by failings and hurts, and they sometimes find each other, and they understand that, oh, here, have some ice cream, let’s go for a walk, let’s dance around, let’s get through this.
Jeff’s book can be purchased at Matter Press.
I read my friend, Myfanwy Collins’, debut novel, ECHOLOCATION the moment I got my hands on it. We’ve been friends for many years and I’ve come to love and respect her and her writing enormously. And I’d seen a few excerpts of her novel when she was writing it and was hungry to see the finished product.
What I’ve always, always admired about Myfanwy’s writing is her singular ability to write gorgeous, lyrical prose even in the midst of telling a gritty, honest, story. You get that with ECHOLOCATION, but you also get the benefit of her masterful plot direction, her ability to set several subplots in motion while conveying a number of distinct characters and points of view. That takes incredible skill. The story has been synopsized in other reviews, so I won’t go into that here. But I will say that this is that rare and beautiful thing: the literary page-turner. The story holds you captive from page one. The writing is amazing and cinematic. I could see and feel everything going on at the funeral for the lost limb at the book’s beginning. And well, any story that involves a funeral for a lost limb pretty much has my unqualified endorsement.
Also, if you can get your hands on the audio book, you must listen to it. Heidi Faith does a stunning job of bringing the voices of the characters and the story of ECHOLOCATION to life. I listened to it a few weeks after reading the book and loved it.
Strange, sad, compelling, gritty, dead-honest and beautifully wrought. If you have not already read this impressive debut novel, I urge you to do so.
The title, Together We Can Bury It, of Kathy Fish's remarkable collection of fiction comes from one of my favorite stories of the author, "Blooms," which is a story I've read at least a half a dozen times if not more. As such, I cannot pretend that I am coming to this collection unbiased. In fact, I not only love Kathy Fish's work, I love her as a friend and human being.
Just One Question is a new series in which I pose just one question to a Hot Pants author about their work. In the past, I have featured Myfanwy Collins and Ethel Rohan. In this episode, I ask Scott Garson about his collection American Gymnopédies. Recently re-issued by Lit Pub Books, the book was praised by Jim Heynen as a “wonderfully original work.”
Jennifer: There must be something about America, and the cities your characters inhabit, that is very interesting to you. What did you hope to communicate by titling the book and the pieces with place names?
Scott: First, thanks for the opporturnity, Jen! What I’ve found about questions like these: you think you know what the answer will be, but then you don’t. So let’s see…
Maybe the most honest response would have to start with the other side of the equation—the ‘gymnopédie’ thing. I’ve always loved the Satie pieces and championed them, in an I-stand-for-this way. I like how unclassifiable they are within classical music. I like their sound—how they feel like they’re ruled by form but at the same time impressionable, open. So one day—several years ago, this was—I wondered what a gymnopédie would be like as prose. Continue reading