by Shane Jones
Two Dollar Radio, 2014
0. (is) The number of fucks Shane Jones gave when he wrote Crystal Eaters.
1. Like let’s be honest. Crystal Eaters really, is Shane Jones’ giant middle finger to the publishing industry and I love it. (Like, New York City, aka: where the big book-type stuff happens). (*cough* *cough* Penguin Books *cough*).
2. I like that Crystal Eaters was released via a small indie press like Two Dollar Radio and not Penguin Books. Really. And I don’t know why.
3. That’s a lie.
4. Actually, I do know why.
5. When Shane Jones wrote that article about his shitty experience with (publishing and editing) Daniel Fights a Hurricane, I kept thinking to myself: so, for his next book, is he going to try and come up with something super-boring and ultra-generic/fake for the suits so they will sign him for another deal or is he just going to keep doing his own thing and not sell out?
6. Crystal Eaters pretty much answered my question.
7. Really, for me, the experience of reading Crystal Eaters felt a little like watching Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain, in the sense that it is a contemporary fable “of what social engineering caused by greed has done to the modern world, but shows us how to live and not give in to a material world.”
8. (Isn’t it weird how the IMDb synopsis for Holy Mountain just blends beautifully with/and works as a sort of faux-narrative for Crystal Eaters?)
9. The cover, I love. It’s this highly colour-fucked version of Elias Martin’s pen drawing of the Dannemora mine circa 1780-1800. (Or, at least, what I think looks like a highly colour-fucked version of Elias Martin’s pen drawing of the Dannemora mine circa 1780-1800).
10. And it’s neat to think that the art for Crystal Eaters isn’t anything custom-made (like the covers for Light Boxes and Daniel Fights a Hurricane) but something that comes from something that already existed in this world prior to Shane Jones ever even coming up with Crystal Eaters.
11. In his Paris Review interview, Shane Jones said that there was a draft, at one point, where he went into super great detail about something—revealing much more than he intended—before scrapping it altogether. The point, I think is: over-explanation isn’t always a good thing. And I like that Shane Jones doesn’t feel like he needs to (over)explain everything always.
12. I firmly believe that with most of Shane Jones’ work, it’s more about the journey and the process of completing said journey, than the end result. Like Holy Mountain. The experience. Or: who really gives a shit about the ending (or the beginning for that matter) when what I remember most from Shane Jones’ work, usually, is the stuff that’s in the middle. Like, the stuff that comes after the beginning and just before the ending.
13. I complained once, to a friend, about Daniel Fights a Hurricane because I felt like it read too much like a sequel or continuation to Light Boxes. (And maybe that was the intention?) In the sense that it all seemed to take place in the same universe.
14. And with Crystal Eaters, I felt like I didn’t want more creepy children or estranged/lost wives or invisible evil forces that had something to do with Mother Nature and/or natural disasters.
15. I wanted something different but still Shane Jones-esque. To see a different side of Shane Jones maybe.
16. And I wasn’t asking Shane Jones to stop being weird or unique or anything. No. As a matter of fact, I think I like that about him now. (Duh). And I think he’s found his thing/niche in that sense, since pretty much anything Shane Jones writes, I go, “Wow. How the hell did he even think up something like that?” And usually, “Huh. That’s pretty neat.”
17. Having said that, Crystal Eaters has a bit of that happening here still, somewhat: creepy children and estranged/lost wives and invisible evil forces that have something to do with Mother Nature and natural disasters.
18. But you know what? It actually doesn’t bother me. I realized that Shane Jones has this sort of cohesiveness to his work in a good and precise way that sort of bothered me at first but then manifested itself and became more apparent after finishing Crystal Eaters. Shane Jones has gotten to a point, I think, where he has released enough books for me to be able to realize what his style is all about. He’s an auteur.
19. Like, you know how Wes Anderson is Wes Anderson and when you see a Wes Anderson film you know you are watching a Wes Anderson film? Or, how people sometimes go, “Oh yeah, that was totally a movie by David Fincher.”(?)
20. Shane Jones is like that, except in a totally non-Wes Anderson (or David Fincher) way. I feel that even if Shane Jones became a ghost writer tomorrow and didn’t attach his name to anything and just released under a dozen totally not obvious pen names; I still would be able to spot something written by Shane Jones. He really does let his imagination take over, in a manner that is entirely unique and devoid of categorization.
21. (Save for the fact that the way Shane Jones writes, I could totally see myself one day teaching a class and comparing a story by some new young author to Shane Jones in a manner similar to: “Wow, that totally sounds like something Shane Jones would write.”)
22. The fact that I have not yet compared Shane Jones to any other contemporary author further reinforces my point. He’s an auteur.
23. And he fucking gave the middle finger to the publishing industry in New York City.
24. He said, “See ya,” and he did his own thing.
25. Shane Jones, you rule.
Mike Kleine is an American author of literary fiction. He currently lives somewhere in the Midwest. Arafat Mountain (2014, Atlatl Press) is his second book.