Do books hang together, or do we make them hang together? It's true that we know the Brian Allen Carr and the Matthew Salesses in a small press, internet sort of way, emails, Likes, cyberstalking, the usual stuff. And that we admire their work, their ongoing productivity, and the quality they bring to it. It's also true that we solicited them to submit work to the Daddy Cool and cool they were. We even set out for AWP in 2013 seeking copies of Vampire Conditions by Carr and I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying by Salesses, but didn't do so with the sense that they had to be consumed at the same time. And yet we have consumed them together, and now have to ask: do they hang together? We suppose they do for all the reasons we sought them out in the first place. They are written by peers, if not outright colleagues, of a piece and time period, small press, dad authors who are carving out a place in a field of clutter. Quality clutter certainly, and there's that word quality again, but clutter none-the-less. There are just so many books, and please don't tell us publishing is dead, ridiculous that, and so many good books at that. But it's more than all this, or at least an extension of it. Both writers are creating worlds all their own, which may be the same as finding their voices, but they are distinct, and it is exciting, and they surely hang together for this reason alone.
Meanwhile, Carr may be visiting the same terrain as Cormac McCarthy, and it may be lazy to draw that comparison, but place is place is place. Still, Carr is creating his own version of it, and arguably represents a new generation chronicler of this already well-tread territory. A world where there is the violence and desperation we know, but also one all its own. One filled with teachers and life on the fringes, special needs children, and dead babies. It is gothic and it is dusty and the culture South of the Border endlessly mingles with the world of Southwest Texas. But it is also Carr's world, and it is continually expanding, with each sentence, each story, and each new book. Salesses exists in a whole other world, one focused on identity, bastard children, family, mixed-race relationships, and culture, old, new, foreign, and domestic, seeking connection, battling confusion, and trying to create a new, cohesive world all its own. Salesses goes even further though with I'm Not Saying, which via its novel as flash fiction approach, seems to come from a twisty, whirring, whole other world entirely. Which it may be, because what else should we expect from this many intersecting influences? Ultimately, we find ourselves in worlds both old and new, that are as unique as the authors themselves, and sure to change your life.