Once upon a time, there was a journal called Monkeybicycle. There is, of course, still a journal called Monkeybicycle, but there used to be one, too. And way back when, one of the guys editing that journal was a guy named Shya Scanlon of Seattle, Washington. And one day I sent a story to Monkeybicycle. And then I waited a while. A while. But, hey. He took it. When the story appeared, it was an issue of Monkeybicycle that flipped over and became and issue of Hobart—a journal I was unfamiliar with at the time. I am now their interviews editor. Small world.
Shya Scanlon’s latest work is a novel called Forecast, which he initially serialized online, each of the 42 chapters on a different blog or journal. Forecast now has a print publisher, Flatmancrooked, and should be available mid-November. I know a bit of the early history of the book, having been a friend of Shya’s throughout the writing of the book and beyond, so I asked him a little about it and his other prose work.
Released earlier this year from the magnificent Noemi Press, Shya Scanlon’s full length print debut In This Alone Impulse, is truly of thing of many things. Using 7 line blocks of language to evoke a sublimely confounding string of styles, voices, jokes, murmurs, machines, Scanlon has truly forged from a seemingly simple set of building blocks a highly tuned and deceptively challenging machine of language and idea.
For a taste, check out Shya’s YouTube feed, which features short videos of a wide range of folks reading sections from the book. Here’s a rather rad one by A.D. Jameson, performing, ‘Hansom’:
Over the past few weeks Shya and I talked some about the construction of the book, its influence, becoming, tone, approach, as well as some of his other forthcoming works.
Shya Scanlon’s much anticipated In This Alone Impulse is now available for preorder from Noemi Press. “If Gertrude Stein ran track for Mineola Prep, she’d text these alert, convival poems from the team bus.” — Joyelle McSweeney
Terese Svoboda is one of the best writers of her generation. HTMLGIANT readers especially will notice at once the tell-tale signs of the pee-free classroom commanded by one Gordon Lish, but her work operates on a global level as impressively as it does syntactically. It has the concision and dark, domestic play of Christine Schutt and the scope and moral outrage of Don DeLillo. But of course she is an author all her own—as much a product of her work in The Sudan as she is of her time in the classroom—and her wry, canny, and cosmopolitan sensibility is tempered only by a rooty ease and kindness—surely a farmer’s inheritance. At home in a multitude of different forms, she’s received prizes both for her fiction and poetry, taught all over the place, produced video work for PBS and MoMA—the list goes on. She’s just released a book of poetry heralded by Thomas Lux as “goddamn terrific,” has a reissue of her third book of prose coming out this month, and two (TWO!) novels being published in 2010 and 2011, one comprised solely of pirate dialogue. If you haven’t read her yet, you’re lucky: it’s superb stuff, and there’s a lot of it out there to discover. If you’re already familiar with her work, it’s always worth revisiting. I asked her a bunch of questions about her craft, her practice, and her politics. Fan Club line forms here. — Shya Scanlon
The first worry writers have when they consider working with something like historical events has to do with the issue of authority: as in, where do I get off writing about that? Well, here’s the good and the bad news: where do you get off writing about anything? Where do you get off writing about someone of a different gender? A different person? Where do you get off writing about yourself, from twenty years ago?
In her dream they were still together. Unhappy. Asseem scowled at Helen, clearly blaming her for the movement of her arms down the sides of her body and onto her back. Her fingers poked and prodded, roaming freely as her hands pulled them across the fenceless farm of skin. The couple was in an immaculate bedroom, and as Asseem stared at her in disgust he walked around and picked at small scabs on the wall. She tried to speak, but her accent was so thick she couldn’t understand herself—some kind of vowel-heavy heaving and moaning, a familiar word escaping now and then only to be pulled back in, kicking and screaming, to the vague morass of soupy sounds. She watched as he made his way from one side of the room to the next, the open sores behind him oozing, pus running down the walls. She looked out the window. Rain was coming down in puddle-size drops, and she began to hear it on the roof, a series of thunderous beats that blended into a steady roar and shook the walls. Helen looked back at Asseem and again tried to speak, to call out above the noise, but her voice was entirely drowned out by the rain, and her boyfriend continued to pick scabs and stare cruelly, his judgment distorting his face so much it took on twenty years, growing older as she watched. Then the puss began to take shape. It slowly pooled together at Asseem’s feet and formed into the bric-a-brac of childhood, cluttering the floor. Helen tried to stand, wanting to plug the leaking holes, but she was held in place by her arms, their white knuckles blending in with the bleached cotton sheets. The sound of the rain grew louder, Asseem’s scowl deepened, and the floor was filling up, now a sea of small objects: toy cars, pens and pencils, stuffed animals and books along side so much trash. It was climbing up her boyfriend’s legs, building beneath him as he dug deeper into the walls, his eyes now filled with a blank stare that was not, she realized, looking at her, but past her, through her. He was being consumed. Fearing for Asseem’s life Helen began to yell, to overwhelm the room’s racket with her own, and though she could still not understand her words she could begin to pick her sound out within the cacophony and it grew, louder than the beating rain, louder than the mounting rumble of debris until at last it finally broke like a fever at its peak and all sound stopped.
This is the cover of a new version of The Picture of Dorian Gray published by Four Corners Books in London. It’s published like a magazine, I guess cuz first it was published in a magazine. Any good books coming out in magazines nowadays? Is everybody enjoying Shya Scanlon’s “book,” Forecast? (Speaking of nice design and serialized novels?)
I mean, get outta town, that’s the cover of the book. It’s got a nasty font and a word-
break and it don’t got the title or author or nothing.
Fn-A right, that’s pretty dang wapow. (Even it was reviewed in Financial Times.) I gotta go back to school.
It’s been a few years since I originally read Forecast, but I remember enjoying it quite a bit, and have a line about “the easier eases” of something stuck in my head. There are lots of lyrical moments like that in the book: places where a single root word is explored in a couple of ways.
Just searched the document. Here it is.
Like so many people around them who, from Jen and Marshal’s perspective, had let things go so far astray, had simply let things go, they accused themselves of a fundamental acquiescence of spirit, a surrender in the face of life’s Great Challenges, one of which, they’d say, was the challenge to spread about evenly the precious resources that let them live, that allowed for the easier eases of everyday life.
Forecast could be called science fiction. The world has developed a way of turning emotions into power. The television talks to you. There’s a weatherman. A woman named Helen. Someone made a movie out of it, too. Or a movie out of part of it. The trailer used to be online, and the guy who was in Seattle’s late night sketch comedy show Almost Live was in it. (That guy, Pat Cashman, is in Taco Time ads now. Kevin Seal, one of the first MTV VJs was in a Taco Time ad a while back, too.)
Huh. Sorry about that. Apparently, this HTMLGiant update on Shya Scanlon’s book is being brought to you by Taco Time.