Review: Collected Works of Scott McClanahan Vol. 1 (Lazy Fascist Press; 2012)

18 Oct

scott-mcclanahan-collected-works-e1344836726613

Mud-Puppies and Catfish girls stomping change, crusty dollars, and irritated receipts in the muddy grass of a backyard. Deer run over again and again until undead, then beaten with a steel thermos as the morning ran screaming away…harmed and insulted by the blazed brains’ pride. Happy to lose arms, watching the blood spurt while calmly smoking. Ace!

Bologna sandwich throwing bums offer mirrors on their shoes, which may suck and twist you in then spit you back out as conjoined with a bum mutant, the hairs bristling from the beard to reach for cheap burgers and cheap beer. Bike rider’s running chainsaws without gears in their bikes, searching for blue horizons on which to chew. Cars that come for you when you think of them smashing bones into mashed ashes while a narrator too cowardly to help runs and causes more accidents, placing himself on the high pedestal of Charlie in Firestarter.

Mysterious epiphanies in strip clubs. Humiliating cross-dressing escapades, partly forced by chance and miscommunication but partly chosen and longed-for. Eerie phone calls with young girls, breathing fiery holograms and playing devilish tricks on the moral balance of slippery narratives. Stubborn jail cells with rubbery bars.

Good Samaritans dream of kissing Bukowski, or eating three piece fish dinners while daydreaming about the racetrack. Kidney stones shaped like crucifixes: a passing mirror for all other secrets. Lonely telemarketers craving a mark and target in the sighing telephone-pole night.

Dead broke pizza thieves sitting in an observation tower watching a cheating father figure cough up blood in chunks of hope calluses. Hairspray brain Grease songs echoing in a witch-cursed bookstore, the ghost of Walt Whitman erasing all of the future pages of books maybe written in other folds of your eyes.

“The Prisoners”–my favorite story in the collection–is unexpected, wise, human, and shocking. Told in McClanahan’s characteristically breezy/greasy and informal style that reminds me a bit of Sam Pink but is less sociopathic in tone and a bit more poetic and dreamy, though no less grounded in a mundane but immediately relevant and compelling yet terrifying reality.

Abbreviated suicide notes drift from paper shredders in abandoned offices where vents wish for shredded paper to feel like snow drifting by.

Forgotten teachers, faded students. Old ladies shoplifting string beans, lonely cashiers. Benevolent futures predicted with a haunting certainty. Waiting on the phantom coal train to sing from West Virginia.

Check out The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan Vol. 1 here

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