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P1010530Tyson had been gone for days, finishing a new record with his band. That Sunday morning, when he finally came home, there were warning signs that things weren’t right—every local hermit weirdo was wandering the streets, and Mildred looked frantic, babbling about the mandatory evacuation. She said the mayor was calling it “the storm we’ve long feared.” Tyson had been running hard on cocaine and vodka. He was barely aware that a hurricane was coming. They lived in the Bywater neighborhood, which was already deserted.

Photo on 11-13-14 at 9.49 AMAren’t miniature Shetland ponies wearing argyle sweaters the best?

!!!

 

What do the protagonists in your book do for work?

One of them is a county clerk, one is a drug addict, another is a drug dealer, another is an office worker, another is a porn star, yet another is a history professor, and the last leads survey groups for a multinational food conglomerate. But he quits.

baileyWhat made you want to write a book about the drinking habits of classic Hollywood stars?

We had published an earlier book about the drinking habits of famous American writers. This was in part because I was a writer who drank and because my creative partner—the wonderful illustrator Ed Hemingway—is the grandson of a very famous writer who drank. You can guess who that is.

The book was called Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers. Everyone seemed pleased with it, so we decided to do a follow-up book. Since I am also a screenwriter and had by then moved from NY to LA, we landed on Hollywood and its movie stars as the next area of exploration. It turned out to be a much bigger subject than we had anticipated—a lot of boozing has gone down in this town.

ginDid you know that Humphrey Bogart once got arrested for protecting his drinking buddies—who happened to be a pair of stuffed pandas? Or that Ava Gardner would water-ski to the set of Night of the Iguana holding a towline in one hand and a cocktail in the other? That none other than “The Duke” John Wayne may have very well invented the Margarita?

Barely legal Natalie Wood only let Dennis Hopper seduce her if he provided a bathtub full of champagne. Bing Crosby’s ill-mannered antics earned him the nickname “Binge Crosby.” And sweet Mary Pickford stashed liquor in hydrogen peroxide bottles during Prohibition.

Below are a few anecdotes, watering holes and boozy quotes from some of our favorite stars. They were beautiful, glamorous, clever too—and very often drunk.

McLeodFrontFirst, locate a town in the upper portion of the Central Time Zone. Population circa 1990 should hover around five hundred. Median income should be not enough. Next, make sure industry leaves: the meat plant, the Wheat Growers, the regional K-Mart equivalent—all of these must go. Try to space the closings out over a decade or more; the effect you are after is chronic fatigue, as opposed to acute calamity. Make the pace of the obliteration glacial. Think slow burn. The Midwest is filled with distance and if you are going to start your own ghost town, it is important to realize it won’t happen overnight. Let the chain stores crunch their numbers. Watch them downsize, have sales, take losses, give up. See local business follow suit: The Hamburger Shack, the Tractor and Auto, the church thrift shop with its copper, polished bell above the door. It will be mandatory, too, to have your town’s high school incorporated into another’s; youth are often on the receiving end of mixed messages, but bussing them twenty or forty or sixty miles five days a week will make certain they understand it foolish to settle where they were raised, that their town is dying, that even education has left.

By the Time

By Dalton Day

Poem

I am deciphering codes
because this is my profession now

I am also a weightless thing

Like a whale or a jar of honey
glowing irresponsibly in June

Who knew it was so simple
So stupid & dangling perfectly

Like a face or a perfume
left on a pillow

I can be alive now

I have figured more of this out

A dock is the only place to have
a memory

Mouths & birds are the same

I am walking away in my own light
I can’t do anything correct

But I might be wrong about that

photoSo a self-interview! Pressure?

Absolutely. I feel compelled to be witty and interesting. I feel compelled to write quirky questions. I am buckling under the pressure and stress-eating potato chips instead.

 

What kind?

Barbecue. Left over from a weekend barbecue, fittingly enough.

0-7627-9176-4The author Andre Dubus, whose books I publicized in the ’90s when I worked at David R. Godine, a small literary press in Boston, once told me that he thought short story writers had more in common with poets than they did with novelists. I think he was right. But I’ve always seen an even stronger connection between poets and painters—always thought they were cut from the same cloth. Both create something that’s painstakingly exact yet open to interpretation.

3SezwIbx_400x400Can you explain the significance of the title of your new book, The Good Luck Cat?

My cat, Ting—the subject of my book—is a Korat. They’re the “good luck cat” of Thailand. So there’s that. But, as the book goes on and bad things happen, the term becomes ironic…until, at the end, it comes to represent all the good fortune that comes from loving and being loved.

Hello Stranger

By D. R. Haney

Movies

The doorway scene in Stranger by Night

By my count, I wrote seven “erotic thrillers,” a largely and justly forgotten genre that combined noir and softcore porn. It was a favorite of tight-fisted producers of the VHS era, since it rarely required special effects, aside from squibs and silicone breasts, and the action was easily confined to a few affordable locations. Much of Stranger by Night, for instance, was set in the apartment of a distraught cop and the office of the female psychologist who was trying to help him determine if he had murdered any hookers during his alcoholic blackouts. She helped him as psychologists usually helped their clients in erotic thrillers: she had sex with him. Her husband was murdering hookers to frame the cop. Spouses in erotic thrillers were almost always predators or prey.

ByTheLightWeKnewOurNames_ValenteA VERY COMPASSIONATE BABY

Gerard finds he cannot take his baby anywhere. Once, when they walked into the Dairy Queen on McPherson, a teenager passed them on the way out and dropped his strawberry ice cream on the pavement. The baby watched the pink scoop fall woefully to the ground, then exploded into such unmanageable tears that Gerard and his wife had to bring him back to the car. Another time, when they took the baby to the park on a sun-filled spring day, the park crew was out mowing the grounds, and the baby leaned out of his stroller, saw the grass flying, weeds razed, dandelion spores whipping up and away on currents of violent air, and he cried with such deep sorrow that the sun couldn’t cheer him, nor the baby ducks swimming through the pond, nor the tulips blooming in the fields. They turned the stroller around and took him home.

Molly Sutton Kiefer


How has having children changed your writing life?

I’m fairly certainly there is a procrastination gene, and my sister and I inherited it from our mother. (Love you, Mom!) Oftentimes I’ll make myself these charming little lists of goals (see “TNB!!” at top of said list, complete with tipsy exclamation points) and then my son decides to nosedive off the stoop onto a concrete slab or my daughter has just spilled that juice she swore she wouldn’t spill and whoops, it happens to be all over the to-do list and you missed naptime.

I can’t procrastinate. Or rather, I don’t have a choice as to how my procrastination plays out. I’m staying at home while the littles are this little, which means I have these strange slivers of time and rare moments of quiet. I pump that time up with as much poetry-action as I can tolerate. When my daughter was a newborn, I’d write after a mid-night feeding, then crawl back into bed. Now, I find myself writing to the light of my cell phone, trying not to wake my husband or son (we co-sleep and the babe is still nursing), on the backs of old poems, transcribing them the next morning. It’s frantic, but somehow, a thousandfold more productive. I don’t have a choice—if I don’t let the surges occur in the strangest of times, they won’t happen at all. It’s highly productive because I can’t say, “Later.” Later will probably be scrubbing urine from the new carpet.

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Buttons of snow froth down. How committed are you
to this earth? On the way to the appointment, I do not see
the chameleon-car; I do not stop at the first sounds of metallic protest.
My car corners my mother’s, bullies it in the driveway.
Crumples and outwinks its light.

Black crows burst from my chest. A decade ago, her fury
would bring down the four corners of our house.
Before I confess, I almost ask for my daughter back,
to hold her in my arms before my mother can think to use her as a weapon.

joshua corey by joanna kramerAre you still a poet? Didn’t you just publish a novel?

Hey, thanks for asking about that. As a matter of fact I did publish my first novel this year: Beautiful Soul: An American Elegy is a kind of mash-up of the domestic drama, the historical novel (focusing on the student rebellions in May ’68 in Paris and also, indirectly, on the Holocaust), and the noir detective story. Laird Hunt said of it that “The push-pull between stunning language and inventive narrative is pure pleasure,” and the critic Daniel Green writes that the novel’s characters “live in language, and to that end the writing in Beautiful Soul, in its scrupulous attention to phrase and image in almost every sentence, could be called an attempt to bring the characters and their milieu to life through the vigor of the words on the page.” It’s available from Spuyten Duyvil Press and SPD and Amazon and it makes an interesting companion piece to The Barons, which is what we’re really here to talk about.

The Barons

By Joshua Corey

Poem

In the time of ever more rapid diffusion and dispersal of truly humanistic termini
The time of collective seizure of rapidly diminishing carbon cores
The time of the barons in their towers growing fatter unto death hooked up to
dizzying interconnected internet spirals of IVs sucking everybody’s placenta dry
Aka your milkshake aka my humps
In the time of dominoes laid from one end of the asylum to the other
The time of male whores who can’t catch a break
Time of the underground economies trading hot licks for rapid desertification
Time of distant thunder
Time of the perpetual el niño
Time of rain filling the abandoned moviehouse and everything picturesque and
prepared for the ancestors
Ancestor-life the only scale that matters now the scale of the illegible the illiterate the unread
Not just a hitler but many come-hitlers in the twilight bathrooms of the barons,
making their dicks look small
Being now of sound mind and sound body I, thirty-nine years of age brimming with half-spent undessicated nougat-rich mortality
Say unto thee children, Burn the motherfucker down