Wednesday, March 25, 2015

These Books Will Change Your Life - The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes by the David S. Atkinson and Something Good, Something Bad, Something Dirty by the Brian Alan Ellis.

Travel. Read. Florida. Read. Alabama. Blizzards. Hotels. Read. Shrimp and Grits. Gin & Tonics. Read. And both The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes by the David S. Atkinson and Something Good, Something Bad, Something Dirty by the Brian Alan Ellis. Both of which are blurbed by the Bud Smith. Both of which reference the Village Inn. And both of which arrived at the corporate headquarters within days, if not hours of one another, and are hence, and forever, intrinsically linked in our collective lit memory. Which raises the question of whether these books, and authors, have anything to do with one another, and if there is some connective tissue beyond a diner, a Smith, and a common destination? Or whether they are in fact part of some kind of movement. They are indy lit, but so are most books we read. They are male, but that's not saying much, we know a lot of those. They do relationships at once young, and tortured, and the people in those relationships talk a lot. Maybe something Mumblelitcoresque then? Is that even a thing? And if not can we coin it as such, or something just like it? Though regardless, is any of this even necessary? Maybe not in the greater hustle and flow of all things lit and movement, but it is to us.

And yet, these are very different productions as well. Ellis is all about grime. His words and pages are caked with it. Not that this grime can cover-up his characters rampant sense of failure, though more than failure it's their existence as those among the never was. They never were going to be anything, but what they are, coke-addled, diner smashing denizens of Ellis world, who endlessly talk shit to compensate for just how much suck there is in said world. Which isn't to say that Ellis doesn't draw a rich world full of colorful characters doing colorful things, because he does, and they are, and that as Ellis completists, we are quite enjoying watching his canon expand, and the rougher edges grow more honed with each outing, the words full of life, and dance. And there is the Atkinson, he of Bones Buried in the Dirt, easily one of out favorite reads in 2013, and now The Garden, which lo and behold, is an epically different reading experience entirely, hipster magic realism, full of satire and sadness. But then not so different either in that these are characters who only know loss, and live in bubbles, both self-made and thrust upon them, while seeing no real way out, something writ much larger and metaphorical certainly in The Garden. Which is to say that Atkinson has stretched here, pushing the sparse language and realism of Bones somewhere funnier and weirder, while still retaining his characters ability to hurt and be hurt by one another. All of which is to say that this may be what Atkinson and Ellis share after all, hurt, inescapable and real, with no real sense how to escape from it. Now does that make for a movement? Why not? We just need a name. Well, that and people reading the books themselves. So do hit it, them, because it, they, just might change your life.      

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