Monday, February 8, 2010

This Book Will Change Your Life - Stories II by Scott McClanahan.

First off, we just want to say that we are looking to go a little Lovelace today with what looks to be a multi-sectional and multi-photoed riff on Stories II by Scott McClanahan. This has happened once before when were in the immediate throes of the quite excellent Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball and it felt good, real good, and if it didn't actually change anyone's life, well it certainly changed ours.

And so here we are again. But here's the thing, writing about Scott's writing suddenly seems like a trickier thing to do then when we wrote about Scott's last collection Stories. We say this, because lately the stuff we've seen on Scott sometimes feels like it is wrapped-up in Scott himself and what he represents to whoever may be writing about him. We think he is as awesome as everyone else does, but our concern, is that what might get lost is discussing the quality of the work, and even the quality of his reading of that work, because of this potentially Dylan-like love of Scott and his Scottness. Now please note, we get it, we do, really, because we're there too, and we have probably abetted it, but we still want to fight it.

Which brings us back to the fantastic Stories II, which is fantastic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is in comparing it to Stories. As we read Stories II, we were reminded of when we read the quite rocking When I Moved to Nevada by Jamie Iredell. We were clearly in Iredell territory, bars and chicks and the like, but as compared to the also impressive Atlanta, Jamie had found a way to expand this universe, making it less claustrophobic by embracing nature and the natural world. It was quite a feat and it should be celebrated as such.

Which brings us back to Stories II, a collection that exists firmly in McClanahan territory, a world where some guy named Scott seeks to not just make sense of the world around him, but embrace it for all it has to offer. Its a world filled with death and illness, dog's goiters, iconic kidney stones and adulterers being beaten to a pulp even as the narrator eats said adulterer's pizza and watches the aforementioned beating. And yet, here's the thing, Stories II is more than that as well, because in this collection Scott bends his stories further in terms of religion and ghosts, adding a layer of mysticism and spirituality that both enriches the stories and takes them from the near fables of Stories to actual fables, fables about a guy named Scott just trying to make sense of the weirdness, humor and sadness that permeates the world around us.


Pete said...

I'm relieved that you meant Sean and not Linda, especially since we're lunching tomorrow.

scott mcclanahan said...

Thank ya Mr. Tanzer for the sweet mention. Looking forward to Chicago.