breece d’j pancake

Breece’s Bones

This past Thanksgiving break, I rented a car to drive home to West Virginia and see my family. Also, I was supposed to meet up with Scott McClanahan (author of Stories I and Stories II), talk about his manuscript, and then go try and visit the grave of Breece D’J Pancake with him. It was the promise of this bonehunt that got me to walk to the rental car place, to rent that car, and to play all of that music so loudly and for so long in the car to get home to. Not that I didn’t want to see my family. It’s a long story. There is a shorter story.

Scott drove into Charleston from Beckley, stopping by my aunt’s house to meet up. We talked about his book for a bit, then got in my rental car to head off to find Breece. His grave was thirty minutes outside of Charleston in a town called Milton. How romantic were we being? Borderline-fucking-gay romantic is how romantic we were being, but Scott and I don’t care because we’re from here. This is our place as much as it is Breece’s. Not like we were going into some foreign land to find his grave, or disturbing his home. The state of West Virginia is our backyard river rope-swing too.


Behind the Scenes / 21 Comments
January 12th, 2011 / 7:00 pm

{LMC}: A reaction to the letter Breece D’J Pancake wrote but did not send to his mother before his 1979 suicide

If you would like to have the full PDF of NY Tyrant 8 so you can participate in this month’s LMC discussions, get in touch with me. But still, when you buy a literary magazine, an angel gets its wings.

This little nest of a letter, built up of hollow bones and shed feathers made me want to go read everything by Breece D’J Pancake, which is relatively easy to do since there’s just the one book; The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake (Atlantic-Little, Brown, 1983) Each tale therein unfolded with the same peripheral soul with a rainbow of great country names, walking in the woods, half-seducing a woman, finding their manhood an effective if clumsy tool for survival.

The stories, culled mostly from The Atlantic Monthly, are trance-inducing, dream-things. People and objects move by cresting, just clearing the ditches and hills in which they hide. In one, the way headlights came over the rise caught the man who was in turn being watched by a rabbit was like being caught in actual headlights yourself.


Literary Magazine Club / 5 Comments
November 5th, 2010 / 2:00 pm

“But what if, as in our case, it is winter, so that the Sun has gone away and the grass lies deep beneath the ice?” – William T. Vollmann

The first paragraph of “Fox Hunters” by Breece D’J Pancake

The passing of an autumn night left no mark on the patchwork blacktop of the secondary road that led to Parkins. A gray ooze of light began to crest the eastern hills above the hollow and sift a blue haze through the black bowels of linking oak branches. A small wind shivered, and sycamore leaves chattered across the pavement but were stopped by the fighting-green orchard grass on the berm.


Excerpts / 9 Comments
September 22nd, 2010 / 10:03 pm