5 Recent Reads with Grace Krilanovich

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Hobo vampire junkies, Robitussin and Twin Peaks references, nice.

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Josh Spilker | September 10, 2010

Orange Eats Creeps / Quimby's

Orange Eats Creeps / Quimby's

Two Dollar Radio has been putting out the awesome as of late. This time the awesome comes in the form of Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich. Hobo vampire junkies, Robitussin and Twin Peaks references equal intrigue in a smash of the high and low.

The first chapter can be read at the Two Dollar Radio site. And Grace was nice enough to tell us what she's been reading lately:

01 Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle

A
transformative book for dark days. Headlines say researchers have
uncovered a dearth of empathy of late (apparently this can be measured)
and tough times have compelled Homeboy Industries, the Los Angeles-based
gang intervention/job training program founded by Father Gregory Boyle,
to lay off 300 of its employees – mere months prior to the publication
of this book. Tattoos on the Heart
compiles 25 years of homily-like “teachable moments” that are
occasionally funny and often very sad. Fazed but not giving up, Boyle
summons the strength to continue his mission despite the endless
succession of funerals for his friends, mostly kids, many of whom tried
with everything they had to regain the dignity and purpose which is
every person’s right – only to be killed on the streets for no reason at
all.

02 A Taste of Country Cooking, by Edna Lewis

A
narrative cookbook, detailing a year in the food life of a
self-sufficient Virginia farming community in the early decades of the
20th
century. Anticipated the current vogue for “slow food” by 30 years,
having been published initially in 1976. Now, touting raw milk, local
chard and artesian bacon is a lifestyle choice. Back then, there was no
choice but to follow the agro-culinary path as it had been set down
hundreds of years before – based on trial and error and farming know-how
honed through the generations. You either followed the letter of the
community farming law – ate shad in spring and blackberries in summer
and hung up your various pork products for winter — or you didn’t eat
at all.

Throughout
there’s a sense of loss, not because hardship and want imbue these
pages (they don’t; Freetown people seemed to have it pretty good), but
because it reminds me how much has been lost in our trade-off for
enjoying a world of choice. Yes, they knew nothing of Thai takeout,
burgers or gnocchi; yes, they had little time for anything aside from
creating foodstuffs, but out of their “lack” comes a dazzling, abundant,
self-sustaining cuisine. What Lewis describes is so out of the range of
our ability to replicate that the book reads more like a protracted
reverie, a dream of a past that seemed to be a food wonderland, one that
was mindful of what the landscape would and wouldn’t allow. Isn’t that
how it should be? Well, who can say? Can it be any more than a dream, a
fabulous story?

03 Dearest Creature, by Amy Gerstler

Gerstler’s
latest collection of poems involves a letter from the Middle Ages, an
interview with a dog, a chorus of hallucinogenic plants and elegies for
the dead amid the muted humming of moths and other luminous flora. In
“Always”: “Her name was Cloudveil. She claimed to have been raised in a
sunless, flowerless cave. Her handwriting was worse than a nervous first
grader’s. While toweling off one night, I caught her gulping my
bathwater from cupped hands. At first I though, yuck! Then it struck me:
this is love…”

04 Warlock, by Oakley Hall

A
Western written during the McCarthy era. Artful, agenda-less;
blindingly bright in its focus on one tiny non-town in a southwest
territory in the 1880s. Oakley Hall (prolific author of 20-plus novels)
here crafts a masterful, expansive narrative, corralling a world’s worth
of doomed, self-involved townspeople along with the requisite shifting
allegiances, power grabs, soured friendships and murky rationalizations
familiar to the genre – all set against the backdrop of a brewing labor
strike down at the silver mine. On multiple occasions the town judge is
described as cradling a whiskey bottle while speaking in soft tones to
it. The flashy non-lawman Clay Blaisedell’s folly is sketched quite
brilliantly alongside the novel’s various other scrappy non-villains,
n’er do wells, loose women, schemers, dreamers and the like.

05 “Obituary of Coots Matthews,” — New York Times

“Coots
Matthews, Cantankerous Hellfighter, Dies at 86.” A bombastic tribute
for what appeared to be some kind of TNT-slinging ur-cowboy with a
penchant for marrying the same woman again and again. Who’s that? Oh,
just old Coots, wasting PC hounds with the brush of his hand, blowing
shit up, ready to saw his own leg off, if it’ll free him… Uh, well
that’s not exactly how it was said in the obit, but damn if he doesn’t
invite embellishment. Cantankerous Hellfighters are like that. It’s all
in there: stints at Halliburton, company car wrecks, pithy thank you
notes… “Mr. Matthews, like his colleagues, was an expert in the perilous
art of detonating dynamite in oil well infernos to starve the fire of
oxygen, thereby killing it. Real hellfighters insist on the word ‘kill’
over wimpier alternatives like ‘extinguish.’”An obituary of this nature must be earned, of course — yet the great thing is, it can be admired by anybody

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