Kyle Beachy's first novel, The Slide, was published this year by The Dial Press/Random House. His short fiction has appeared in Hobart, decomP, The2ndHand, Otium, and as a Featherproof Mini-Book. He's received fellowships from The Breadloaf Writers' Conference, The Danish Centre for Writers and Translators, and he teaches at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
what are you reading now
A collection of thirteen Joseph Campbell lectures called, Transformations of Myth Through Time.
last book to make you laugh out loud
Amelia Gray's AM/PM. What I thought was going to be a collection of clever little things revealed itself to be much much bigger and better and just downright hilarious.
classic you’ve been meaning to read
The Master and Margarita. I've tried, I try, but right now I can not. And tomorrow I likely will not. The outlook is sour but I'm trying.
book you borrowed and never returned
Fat City, by Leonard Gardner…except now I've gone over to my shelf and opened the book to find an inscription from my friend Chris Bower, which reads: It's not a book that's going to change the color of your eyes but it might change the color of your barely visible hair…and if the scene about collecting nuts doesn't kill you, I will. So I suppose this was actually a gift from Chris, which is thoughtful and I should remember to thank him.
My revised answer is A Gravity's Rainbow Companion (which I can't look at without thinking of "The Rainbow Connection", performed by either Kermit or Willie, or dare we imagine, a duet).
most devastating novel you’ve ever read
Devastation is hard, because if that's all the book offers I'll quit. I have no problem dropping a book if it's not rewarding me in ways that I believe I deserve, or if I feel manipulated. So I'll say Blood Meridian, which once I open I can never put down despite the relentless and varied ways by which it beats a reader senseless. Is there a more devastating character than the Judge?
last reading you attended
Man, Chicago. Hell of a city for readings. Tonight I'm going to hear Jean Thompson read at the Book Cellar, about as rad a bookstore as you're likely to find.
weirdest dream involving a book or literary character
I've had some pretty gnarly whale visions, but I don't know if they should be attributed to Moby Dick or the Bible. I've been swallowed by a whale in a dream, one of those Jungian all-you-can-eat buffet dreams where everything is swallowing everything. But I've also chased the whale in a dream. I was on a jet ski with a butter knife pinched between my teeth like some tangoist with a rose. This was years and years ago, back when I was playing A LOT of Wave Race on the Nintendo 64.
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
It was as much to test as it was impress, a kind of dual-action planting. The book was Calvin and Hobbes, The Days Are Just Packed, and her reaction couldn't have been more perfect. She picked it up and flipped through the pages and then, smiling, told a story about her childhood, or her travels, or the several ways she has managed over the years to break her nose, and at that point I knew I would like her to stay.
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
Paper Egg, the Featherproof subscription and delivery series, if we can count that. I'm bad with journals. I am constantly remiss. I don’t – we can be honest here I think – I don't read a lot of short stories because I'm always working on a novel, and so I have to read long things that are big and long and succeed and fail in the unique ways big long things do, so that I can learn from them. And steal.
best thing you’ve read online recently
"Tuesday", by Lindsay Hunter, at SmokeLong Quarterly.
most anticipated upcoming release
If there is indeed a shred of either decency or hope in this world, someone will soon publish my friend Odie Lindsay's amazing collection of short stories, called Hers. Otherwise, I've just this morning become very excited for the currently untitled and un-release-dated Barry Hannah novel from which the excerpt in the June Harper's has been excerpted.
recommended reading list:
Eight (Plus) Women
Following a vigorous argument about the pronunciation of "Zooey" apropos of both Miss Deschanel and the Salinger character, a singer from New York challenged me to name my five favorite female characters in novels. I think she harbored suspicions about me being one of these litero-misogynists, and I got all sensitive and defensive for a while, frightened that she was right. Now, as a gesture of both personal affirmation and a nice healthy middle-finger to the singer, here are more than five of my favorite female characters, along with the books in which they live.
- Aunt Sylvie, in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
- Brita, in Mao II by Don DeLillo
- Sasha, in You Don't Have to Live Here by Natasha Radojcic
- Jade Butterfield, in Endless Love by Scott Spencer
- Money, in Why Did I Ever by Mary Robison
- Joelle Van Dyne (a.k.a. "Madame Psychosis" a.k.a. "The Prettiest Girl of All Time"), in Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
- Phuong and Phuong's scheming sister, in The Quiet American by Graham Greene
- Every single amazing female character, in Jenny and the Jaws of Life by Jincy Willett