Monday, October 26, 2009

Sean Lovelace

Sean Lovelace is an English professor at Ball State University. His publications include Tartts: Incisive Fiction from Emerging Writers, Grass: A Fiction Chapbook, and stories and essays in various literary journals, including New Orleans Review, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, and Sycamore Review.

His latest book is How Some People Like Their Eggs, winner of the Third Annual Rose Metal Press Short Short Chapbook Contest.

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I am mostly reading three things at once these days—I switch off/switch on, like maybe a giant firefly, or a dog fight. Since it’s autumn now, I am reading things that I can easily flip through, fold up, hold in my gloves as I sit in a tree about 30 feet above a lowland forest of dappling sun/shifting leaf-shadows/winding trails of deer and cats (been seeing several cats recently—not sure why) and coyotes and raccoons and one time this girl walked under my stand with a white dog, and she must have had That Feeling, so looked up at me—crouched in full camo off a tulip poplar in a metal appendage like some form of Orwellian insect/spy—and I waved my paw and she waved her paw (white glove with a tiny pink bell sown on) and walked off with her white dog, sort of drifted thinking, Was that real, or a wood sprite, or God?

So, anyway, books-I-am-reading while bowhunting.

1.) Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas.

This post-apocalyptic mind-funk of mud and muck and seepage and musty moss head-crunch, seep, moil your spleen into crush-cakes, etc. is an excellent read for the deer stand. Why? It looks like a burnt piece of toast. Or toast clasped too tightly in a desperate mother’s hand, then burnt in the toaster, then drenched in cheap lipstick and regret, then re-burnt (like refried, only different), then flung and forgotten in a rain gutter full of tears for six months. Seriously. The book is black cover on black pages on soot. So no sunlight prisms off, no whitetail deer perceives me carefully flip the pages. I am about halfway through this book; it is horrifying and depressing so far. But then the language uplifts me. Kind of like the Old Testament.

2.) The Other Lover by Bruce Smith because the bucks are beginning to rut. Wait, let me explain. Once the does go into estrous and the mating cycle begins, I will have to add rattling antlers, a grunt tube, a bleating can, and naturally a bottle of doe-in-estrous application with me into the woods. This means less space for books in my fanny pack. This slim book of poetry is a perfect fit, and contains a perfect sonnet (titled “After St. Vincent Millay”). The last couplet—like any good Shakespearian sonnet—solves the conundrum presented in the initial twelve lines, the persona’s angst and bitterness over lost love…

And about that other guy by your side

You left me for. I hope he dies.

3.) Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do by Studs Terkel.

Now didn’t I just say I need a small book? This book is a brick, all red and sweaty SUV. Well, I do contradict myself. The days I haul this tome into the woods I leave my two beers behind to make room. (I routinely drink two beers while deer hunting, and in no way, shape, or form is this is a sign of general intelligence/good living to hang yourself off a tree way-ass up in the air and drink beer. So, like many things in my life, I say don’t do it; just don’t you dare try to stop me.)

Terkel’s book interviews hundreds of U.S. workers, from book designers to prostitutes to meter maids to advertising CEOS. And so on. In a word, fascinating. Work is literature. Every human theme right there in the sweat and blood and bones of these pages. You know it, if you hold any type of job. You do work, right? If not, that must be some serious labor on your brain right there. Would be to me. Yesterday in the woods I saw a red fox limping by with three legs. His fur was ruffled up, clumped and rat-nested. Three legs, but he seemed to drift along through the undergrowth like a morning fog. I mean flow. He was clearly going somewhere. Not sure why I tell you this but for a moment while writing I felt something, a shuddering tinge of melancholy for some odd reason. So then I just thought about that fox, and, you know, I felt better.
Visit Sean Lovelace's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue