All You Folks in Heaven Not Too Busy Ringing the Bell

An incredible oral history of Jason Molina’s masterpiece, The Magnolia Electric Co. My favorite record ever. If you haven’t heard it, please go buy it right now. Here’s my Rumpus essay on the album from right after Molina passed away.

Other big Molina news: Didn’t It Rain is being reissued later this year. I was twenty-three, living in Austin, when I found it at 33 Degrees. It was my first Molina, and it changed things for me. I’d never heard an album that sounded so much like the way I felt. Can’t wait for this. 

Other stuff:

If you’re into e-books and against Amazon, you can now get Gravesend and other Broken River titles here.

My So-Called Life first aired twenty years ago this week. I was fifteen, a week away from being sixteen. I watched that first episode and never missed one the whole run. Taped them on VHS without commercials. I had Claire Danes’s picture up in my locker all junior year. One time my friend told me he was taking me to a party in the city and that she’d be there. I was heartbroken when it turned out to be bullshit. I still cry when I hear that goddamn Buffalo Tom song. I still have Sonnet 130 memorized. This is a good essay revisiting the show.

The entirety of the The Basement Tapes is being released soon.

Scorsese. The Ramones. Yes.

David Lynch does the Ice Bucket thing. Genius.

Here’s an essay I published in Trop back in February about Yusuf Hawkins, who was killed 25 years ago this past Saturday. All this time and the same shit keeps happening over and over in one form or another.


Writing Process Blog Tour

Well, I’m almost a full week behind on this. My friend Abigail Greenbaum invited to take part in this writing process blog tour (she billed it as a literary internet chain letter, which I like). Our good friend Anya Groner did it the week before. They’re two of my favorite writers and they responded to these questions with their typical genius. Here I am, late, fucking the whole show up. After my answers, I’ll pass the baton to two other writers I greatly admire.

1) What are you working on?
I just finished a draft of my second novel. I’ve spent the last several months pretty immersed in it. I finished it yesterday, so I need some distance from it before I can really talk about it in more detail. It’s out with three of my most trusted readers right now, so I’ll know if it’s worth anything soon.

2) How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre?
It’s sadder.

3) Why do you write what you do?
Everything’s shaped by where I’m from and my family and the stuff I read and watch and listen to. I was lucky enough to find James Ellroy, Jim Thompson, and Elmore Leonard really young. I watched a ton of movies as a kid, too. I was never censored. I got obsessed with David Lynch when I was about thirteen and that changed the way I see things.

4) How does your writing process work?
I write whenever the fuck I can, to be honest. I need a lot of coffee. When I’m working on a novel, I’m drinking a lot of espresso. Maybe two or three pots a day. Short stories are different. They come when they come. I don’t seem to need coffee with them. I’m influenced by everything I’m reading and listening to and watching. I need to take long walks. I have good ideas when I’m out walking. I’ll write in a notebook if I have one with me; otherwise, I’ll write in my phone. When I’m working on a novel, I’m pretty happy if I get a page or two a day. I like it when I’m hitting solid singles. I work best in the mornings, but it all depends on my job and my family and commitments. I seem to work better the busier I am. Give me two hours in the morning before work and I’ll get more done than if I have all day to sit at my desk. I don’t really have an office. I have a desk in our bedroom. My computer’s on a desk with all my son’s toys. I like to work in coffee shops. I like noise.

Next up:

Lori Jakiela, who wrote one of my favorite books from last year, a memoir called The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious.

And my old friend Irene McGarrity. We went to college and grad school together, and I’ve always loved her stories.