HILL WILLIAM by Scott McClanahan

513yHSRDOAL._SY346_Hill William
by Scott McClanahan
Tyrant Books, November 2013
200 pages / $14.95  Buy from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today was a day I skipped lunch for Newcastles.  It was 83 degrees outside and I nestled into a lawn chair with Hill William and a shirtdress that had no pants. As soon as I started and the beers grabbed hold  I wanted to tell someone about it because EMOTIONS so I thought I would tell Siri.  This is what she said back because she is like a parrot. Exactly like a parrot because parrots aren’t exact and can’t get everything right. But luckily there is a cage around them so you can’t hurt them easily.

I’m going to drunkenly live Siri Scott McClanahan’s Hill William

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Why not just do something cool like Story Tapes

Hey, have y’all seen and heard this Story Tapes project that Eliza Smith and Faith Gardner have put together? They have a sweet logo, and they post interviews/audio/video of writers reading their own stories, or swapping and reading another writer’s stories, and it’s all really nicely produced and soundtracked.

Stories by people like Scott McClanahan, xTx, Delaney Nolan, Dylan Nice, Alissa Nutting, Mary Miller, Sarah Rose Etter, Amber Sparks, Matt Rowan, Lauren Becker, Casey Hannan, Tania Hershman, and some cool new-to-me people like Alicia Mountain, Sean Schlemmer, Josh Denslow, Owen Poindexter, Molly Laich, Megan Kruse, Berit Ellingsen, and more.

More people should do stuff like this. Is this a thing? Are lots of people doing well-designed and steady video/audio reading series things like Story Tapes? Can you post some links in the comments?

A Lot of Them Ugly & A Lot of Them Dark: An Interview with xTx

xTx has two books published Normally Special and Nobody Trusts a Black Magician.  She has been published at Lamination Colony, Metazen, Word Riot, and a million other places.  I don’t actually know if xTx is a human being or a hamster but her book made me have a lot of emotions.  Her stories “Standoff” and “The Mill Pond” show an amazing understanding of the craft of writing but at the same time they don’t lose emotion.

NC: Who are some of your favorite authors and describe why you like them?  But also what writers have influenced your style?

xTx: I always feel like I’m going to take a bullet for admitting this but, whatever. I’m not going to lie so I can fit in with the cool kids.   The mainstream authors that always come to mind when I am asked this question are Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk and Jonathan Ames.  Stephen King because I started reading him when I was super young and the stories he told blew my mind.  I loved the evil versus good and the ugly and the weird and the scary he always brought.  I love Chuck because that shit is fucked up good, yo; his stories, his characters, the detail, the uniqueness, the strange.  I can never get tired of Chuck.  I like Jonathan Ames because he’s so honest, self-deprecating and funny.

But to be honest, after I devoured all of their books, I really haven’t read these guys in a handful of years.  Especially since I discovered the online lit scene and started reading all the zines that were out there and finding out there were ‘regular’ people out there making words that could also blow me away.

The books/authors that have blown me away recently are:  Paula Bomer/Baby & Other Stories, Rachel P. Glaser/Pee On Water, Lindsay Hunter/Daddy’s, Danielle Evans/Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, and Alissa Nutting/Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls.  Amazing books…all of them.

I can’t really say that any writers have influenced my style, at least consciously.  I mean, maybe years of reading King and then Chuck put me in a place that savors the fucked up, dark and magical.  Or maybe that place was always there and King and Chuck found them.  If anything, being exposed to so much online literature taught me that there are so many ways to write and so many ways to tell a story and that gave me the confidence to trust in how I wanted to write things even if I felt that maybe it was the ‘wrong’ way.

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Fear and Bravery of Pseudonyms

At the AWP bookfair, Michael Kimball showed me a copy of this pretty little book, Normally Special, by a writer called xTx. I asked Michael something like, “what’s the deal with the name?”  He said she was a writer who publishes stuff under her real name, but also uses this pseudonym when she writes stuff she doesn’t want her family to read or kids to read. I asked Michael if anyone knew who the writer was and he said maybe Roxane Gay, since she had published the book, but maybe nobody else knew. “I don’t think I’d want to read any of that other stuff anyway,” he said.

Tiny back story: When I was twelve or thirteen I learned how to code HTML so I could build websites. It was 1999 and compared to now, the internet was pretty barren place. I built  a website for my church’s Youth Group because I was really into that kind of thing, a fan site for Sheryl Crow because I was really into her first two albums, and I published my own stories on a Geocities page because I wanted someone to read things I’d written, just so long as I didn’t have to answer to it.

Another story: A few years ago, a mentor of mine from New Orleans came to visit New York and we had coffee. He was the one who got me to move to New York in the first place, the one who told me to go to grad school, the one who made me excited about creative nonfiction. He published a very autobiographical novel about his childhood in Louisiana and told me his mother had a hard time with the way the mother character was represented in the book. Over our coffee, he asked me what I was working on and I said, somewhat embarrassed, that I was working on a memoir. He asked me if my family knew and I said not really and he said, “Don’t talk to them about it until it’s done. They’ll change your memories, they’ll change your story without even trying.” (A loose quote, of course, but you get the picture.) Most importantly, he told me, You can’t write a good story if you’re worried about what someone is going to think about it, if you’re worried about hurting someone’s feelings. Continue reading “Fear and Bravery of Pseudonyms”

On He Is Talking to the Fat Lady by xTx: It Will Rip Your Head Off

The top of my head is gone.  What else should I expect?

Warning: reading xTx’s chapbook He Is Talking To the Fat Lady will talon-rip the top of your head off.

Published by Safety Third Enterprises, xTx’s first chapbook sold out in two days, and rightly so.  Her work draws readers in like the pull of gravity, a force at once shocking, truthful, candid, powerful and brutal.  Energy, pulling you in with brave themes, language, and voice.  High voltage.  You’ve been warned.  But as with any mysterious force, few will fight this pull and none will be let down.

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