Shya Scanlon’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Mississippi Review, Literary Review, New York Quarterly, and elsewhere. His novel FORECAST is being serialized across 42 online journals and blogs. His prose poetry collection In This Alone Impulse will be published by Noemi Press in 2009. He received his MFA from Brown University in 2008, where he won the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction. Visit him online at www.shyascanlon.com.
what are you reading now
Right now I’m juggling a number of different books. I can’t tell if this is because none of them have grabbed me entirely, or whether my mood has been fluctuating, or perhaps that my attention span is a victim of the amount of time I spend online. Likely it’s a combination of all these. At any rate, I’ve got bookmarks in:
Driftless by David Rhodes
Home Land by Sam Lipsyte
Ninety-two in the Shade by Thomas McGuane
Tumble Home by Amy Hempel
Vermeer in Bosnia by Lawrence Weschler
… and a variety of journals, including the new Fence, the new Puerto del Sol, and the first issue of Dewclaw
classic you’ve been meaning to read
Well, to answer that honestly would be a long list. I never really got a classical education, even in high school, and I didn’t study English in college, so I simply haven’t read all the books most of my peers consider essential. So let this thought experiment suffice for an answer: think of ten canonical classics. Chances are, I’ve probably read no more than one of them. Huh. Not much of an experiment, is it.
last book you finished in a single sitting
I never finish a book in one sitting.
book you borrowed and never returned
Oh, I’ve done this a lot. And it’s been done to me a lot, too. Frankly, I don’t really keep good track of books, whose are whose, etc. It’s all part of a big book continuum, for me. I have books for a while, then I don’t. But because I’ve avoided your last two questions, I’ll get specific here and tell you the last book I think I’ve failed to return: Mayordomo by Stanley Crawford.
favorite book from childhood
I suppose I can determine what stage of childhood we’re talking about here. One of my all-time favorite picture books is The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang. Just beautiful and giddy. Makes me think of growing up in Maine. Running naked through the woods.
longest book you’ve ever read
Huh. I don’t know. I don’t really think about that. I’ll tell you the longest book I’ve ever started and stopped reading: The Runaway Soul by Brodkey. I really wanted to be captivated by this book, and maybe that was the problem. The reading was so slow that every page I turned made me painfully aware of how many more there were to go. It was like being stuck in time. I don’t think I made it past 50. I’ll probably pick it up again when I’m old and crave that slowness.
secret crush on a writer or literary character
I think Lorrie Moore’s women are sexy as hell. They’re all broken yet strong and brilliant and hilarious. I don’t really picture them in my mind, though—in fact, I rarely picture characters in my mind unless the author drives it home (and even then I try to forget about it if possible). I like characters to remain nebulous, shifting word-arrangements. Though this doesn’t mean I like characters to be abstract. In fact, I’ve been increasingly disinterested in “abstract” fiction these days. I like characters, I find. Characters that seem real. I like plot, though it doesn’t have to be the driving force of the book. Action, then. I like things to “happen.” I want to write some Lorrie Moore fan fiction with long, elaborate sex scenes.
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
Hopefully, someday, my own.
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
I don’t subscribe to literary journals. I prefer to browse and buy from the rack. But I think I might use this opportunity to plug Monkeybicycle, which has kind of against all odds found a way to not only survive, but thrive, and which is dear to my heart for a variety of reasons. I look forward to each issue Steven Seighman creates.
best thing you’ve read online recently
How about this: I’ve recently been invited to join the online non-fiction site The Nervous Breakdown, and I’ve really been enjoying the memoir-type personal essays there. There’s a great variety of voices, experiences and perspectives, and it’s been kind of a nice reprieve from the dense, language-focused writing prevalent on many of the online journals I’m familiar with (and enjoy).
most anticipated upcoming release
Man, we’ve had a pretty good year so far, right? There are a number of books recently out that I haven’t read, so maybe I’ll list those instead. Inherent Vice, of course. How to Sell by Clancy Martin. Lowboy by John Wray. Okay, I’ll say this: I want to read Happy Rock by Matthew Simmons, when it comes out. It has yet to find a publisher, though, as far as I know, so I might have to wait a while. Any takers? Contact Matthew at http://themanwhocouldntblog.blogspot.com/.
recommended reading list:
Adult Books to Read to Your Child
My criteria: these books all use very simple language, and in most cases, very simple syntax, to create wildly imaginative fictions. I think in some cases a child might even have an easier time understanding it than most adults.
- Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall by Ken Sparling
- The End of The Story by Lydia Davis
- Stories and Texts for Nothing by Samuel Beckett
- Return to the City of White Donkeys by James Tate
- Vanishing Point by David Markson
- The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka (especially the really short ones)
- The Shoe Tester of Frankfurt by Wilhelm Genazino
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy