Brian Allen Carr is the author of Short Bus (Texas Review Press) and the forthcoming Vampire Conditions (Holler Presents). He edits Dark Sky Press and is assistant editor of Boulevard.
what are you reading now
I just finished Tom Williams's excellent The Mimic’s Own Voice and Scott McClanahan’s Stories V, which is a killer read. I’ve been reading a lot of noir. I’m not sure why. Thompson, Cain, Hammet. I’m always reading some Dickens. I’m fixing to re-read Great Expectations. I really want to get the new Deb Olin Unferth, but I’m so behind in my reading that I’m not sure when I’d get to it.
classic you’ve been meaning to read
I need to read Proust. It’s sitting on my shelf at work. I read more classics than contemporary, but the great books seem to choose their own time to be read--at least in my case. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to In Search of Lost Time, but I hope to. Though, I think the translation I have is Remembrance of Things Past.
last book you finished in a single sitting
I think it was The Postman Always Rings Twice. That’s one of my favorite books. So much happens in those 112 pages. And it’s very precise. I’m becoming a great fan of plot. More and more. Sentence fandom is growing boring. Though I say that and then I’ll read something from Jamie Iredell’s The Book of Freaks, or Blake Butler’s There Is No Year, or Amelia Gray’s Museum of the Weird, and I’ll think language is the real direction of our generation. Daniel Woodrell is pretty much who I want to be when I grow up, but whenever I try to do extreme plot driven narratives my writing crumbles. I’d never be able to write a book like James M. Cain did. Quick jabs of plot and panic. I was chatting with Matt Bell recently and I think we both decided that the best thing to be able to write would be 100 page French novels. Well, he said it, I just agreed. Like, say, The Stranger. A book which was inspired by The Postman. . . Or, what might even be better than that, The Little Prince. I can read that book once a month. There’s another great little book by Mexican/American writer Tomás Rivera called . . . y no se lo trago la tierra. Which, in English, is usually translated as . . . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him. That book is mammoth, though not enough people read it. There was this book that Archipelago released last year (I think) called Plants Don’t Drink Coffee by Unai Elorriaga, that I also read in a single sitting, and which made me cry. But, I think that . . . y no se lo trago la tierra, The Little Prince, and Plants Don’t Drink Coffee could all be considered young adult fiction, or even children’s books. I like emotions, it seems.
book you borrowed and never returned
Mario Vargas Llosa’s Who Killed Palomino Molero? I borrowed it from my brother shortly before he died. I really, really wish I could give it back to him. What’s kind of weird is that the book’s about this really beautiful bolero singer who is murdered. It’s a mystery. My brother was beautiful, and the events surrounding his death are shrouded with uncertainty. To this day we don’t know if he was murdered or committed suicide. I need Lieutenant Silva and Officer Lituma on the case, because they found Palomino’s killer. And it only took them 150 pages. It’s been 10 years, and I don’t know shit.
most treasured book in your collection
My grandfather gave me a big picture book of Edgar Alan Poe stories and poems when I was six years old. It’s so awesome. There are definitions in the margins, and the poems tell you how to decode them. I love Poe. Recently I realized that he would have had a southern drawl, and that made me love him more. Read “Alone” with a southern drawl. Don’t imagine Poe as an emo kid. Imagine him as a whiskey-drinking redneck.
if you could take a cross-country road trip with any literary character
Lolita. Who else?
book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone
if you could subscribe to only one literary journal
Probably Hobart. Aaron Burch knows what’s up. His books are getting progressively more beautiful, as are the issues of the mag. I’ve got a story coming out in issue 13 that I’m very stoked about. I think it was my sixth attempt to place a story with them. It was the most excited I’d been about an acceptance in a bit.
best thing you’ve read online recently
Stephen Graham Jones’s “Modern Love” over at Everyday Genius is insane, but I guess that came out a bit ago, and it’s just that I re-read it often. Jensen Beach had a story at BULL a while back that was also brilliant. Um, I don’t know. Oh, Tim Jones-Yelvington’s “Clean Babies” at HTMLGIANT was very entertaining.
most anticipated upcoming release
I’m really excited about Mel Bosworth’s Freight. I’m also looking forward to the new Patrick deWitt. I want to read Seth Fried’s story collection. I’m really interested to see Amelia Gray’s debut novel, Threats. We had her down for a reading at South Texas College, where I teach, and she gave us a selection of it, and it sounded superb.
recommended reading list:
Post-Modern Mexican-American Titles That More People Should Read
- The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuna by Dagoberto Gilb
- . . . y no se lo trago la tierra by Tomás Rivera
- The Valley by Rolando Hinojosa
- Martin; And, Meditations on the South Valley by Jimmy Santiago Baca
- Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros (a lot of people actually have read this one, but most likely in the wrong way).