Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kent Wascom

A native of the Gulf south, Kent Wascom attended Louisiana State University and received an MFA from Florida State University. He was awarded the 2012 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize for Fiction.

Wascom is the author of The Blood of Heaven (2013), and the newly released Secessia.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
My reading habits tend toward a certain stratigraphy, with fiction and poetry forming the base and research material mounting as the day wears into afternoon. In the evenings I read strictly horror and weird fiction, which relaxes and pleasantly warps me so that I wake up the next morning with just a touch of the otherworldly to my perceptions.

So, moving from the beginning of the day, I’m reading DeLillo’s Underworld, which is formidable and mysterious—think walking through the desert and stumbling on a succession of sphinxes, each informing you slightly more about the riddle of the next, and an advance copy of Fallen Land by Taylor Brown, who is a hell of a writer, and whose book is sating my need for thrumming southern prose and powdersmoke. I’m bopping between the poems of Robert Hayden and Derek Walcott and waiting eagerly for the release of the first comprehensive edition of Alejandra Pizarnik’s poems in English, which comes out later this summer (Bless you, New Directions).

The research reading varies according to what scenes I’m working on or towards. Recently I’ve been digging everything from the writings of Jose Marti to early twentieth-century newspapers to Thomas Belt’s The Naturalist in Nicaragua, which was a favorite of Charles Darwin’s and has been an invaluable source of information about the natural world of late 19th century Nicaragua. My nighttime weirdness has lately included the stories of Algernon Blackwood and the second volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, which complement each other quite well in terms of the unreal.
Visit Kent Wascom's website.

--Marshal Zeringue