Ban(ne)d Book Club: Crater discuss Lucy Corin's “Four Small Apocalypses”

Lizzie Plaugic

The Seattle duo Crater has only released one song so far. It’s called “Crater Head” so I guess it’s kind of like their theme song. But when Ceci and Kessiah took some time out of their daily routine to chat with me over Skype recently, they told me they have around 17 songs already written; they’re just waiting for the right moment to release them. “Kes and I were both in other bands in the past,” said Ceci. “We’re best friends, so it feels good to have a band together and do it right.”

So in the song-release interim, I decided to get literary with Crater. In the inaugural edition of Ban(ne)d Book Club, we discuss Lucy Corin’s short story “Four Small Apocalypses”. The four, non-narrative excerpts detail minor “apocalypses” that come in the form of paranoia-fueled mundanities of everyday life. Except when they’re not about everyday life at all—there are ghosts; there is strange lighting; there are horrific garage door accidents. Ceci and Kessiah even managed to find some connection to their own work within Corin’s surreal, Lynchian narrative. You can read the stories here
and see what our book club came up with below.

*****

So, what I was thinking just from the title alone—”Four Small Apocalypses”—is that I feel like you could see it as either they’re literally short stories, but they’re also figurative in the sense that the apocalypses aren’t really the end of the world. It’s not like really life-altering for everyone.

Ceci: I mean it’s subjective. Each person has their own ending or their idea of an apocalypse, but yeah I definitely agree with that.

I feel like each short story features a different kind of apocalypse.

Ceci: Right. I was talking to Kes about that. I tried to outline what each apocalypse was in every story and for the first one the only apocalypse I found was that she’s forgotten something but she can’t put her finger on what she’s forgotten which is apocalyptic in itself because when you’re not able to fully put your finger on what it is you’ve lost it almost become more tragic.

Right. And I mean I dunno if you caught it in the first one, there’s a scene where she talks about being in the garage with her father and the door actually closes on him. I couldn’t tell if it was real or just a metaphorical closing but then I decided that it was real.

Ceci: I decided it was real and when I first read it. I got this really strong vision of what it was like and for some reason it reminded me of an Archie comic I was visualizing it in my head like this super colorful, cheesy moment but it was almost funny that the garage closed on him in that way.

And she describes it as a mouth, which is kinda surreal or absurd. It’s funny that you mentioned Archie comics because there are a lot of references I think in the short stories . The second story reminded me of The Shining, kind of.

Ceci: Oh yeah, definitely with the pungent smells and all and the blue vapor.

Kessiah: And the lighting.

Ceci: There’s a lot of smells and gases throughout the stories which I think also made me realize that there’s a ghost within every story and it just it turns it’s a different kind of ghost in every story. Actually, the airport Hilton was my favorite story. It kinda reminded me of Lost in Translation a little bit.

Yeah I noticed there were a lot of colors in all of them: The pink and yellow hallway, the blue bath and the white ghost. I think it’s this sense of intangibleness, if anything is tying them together, it’s probably that. Did you guys find any common themes?

Kessiah: Well Ceci thought about the idea of a ghost and how that’s translated across each story.

Ceci: I’ve recently read Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. That was the last book I finished And in that book she talks about the need to be close yet the need to be alone at the same time and I feel like that was really relevant in these stories because there’s a sense of loneliness but also a lot of fantasies about physicality and fucking and things that feel very real and I felt like that was pretty relevant throughout her stories, which I really liked. And also it’s dark but at the same time there’s a sense of possibility in every story.

Kessiah: Even though they’re all apocalyptic and there shouldn’t be any possibility if it’s the end.

Ceci: And though there’s fear of death, there are possibilities that come out of that fear, that we can learn from I guess.

Yeah, I mean even in the last story with the ghosts, it’s kind of unclear. That situation is one that I think is very easy to picture, just like someone at home, taking a bath and then these sort of ghosts start watching her but it’s unclear what the ghosts are going to do, and their position is strange in that story.

Ceci: I had the most trouble with that one, just trying to figure out what was happening.

Kessiah: Yeah. It reminded me of Miyazaki films. This kind of like, lurking in the corner and it was fantastical . They’re not frightening. Like these are not ghosts that are frightening to me they’re just kind of like playfully waiting and observing these human forms. A line that I really really liked was “we have no weight and we are afraid of mirrors which are equals in transparency” and for some reason it just reminds me of Spirited Away or Totoro or these weird little creatures like smiling and observing you. I thought that piece was good, not my favorite but interesting.

Ceci: also very Lynch-y. I always visualize things as movies when I’m reading. It feels very blue to me, very 80s and blue.

Kessiah: Like a blue filter.

I kind of read it as having a common narrator throughout the stories, and when I got to the last one, that changed.

Ceci: Yeah, I didn’t sense that at all. That’s why I was so thrown off by the last story, because they seemed to fit together so well, and then that last one… I like the way that she writes, because it’s just her voice trailing off and turning into something entirely different and moves to the next, which is pretty cool.

Where I got the most obvious sense of apocalypse was in the one with the cryogenically frozen boxes.

Kessiah: That was my favorite one. I think it challenged me more. It was a little more abstract. There were certain lines that really intrigued me. I wrote a lot of quotes down, that’s just what I do. I actually wanted to share them with you guys and see what you thought about them. So, the character says, “Those of us that awake and when we couldn’t walk we slugged to the clear air past sadness.” I really liked that. I’m not sure how to analyze it, but it resonated with me for some reason. And visually, I just imagined these giant freezer boxes and people sleeping in them. Like, really weird visuals. It just seemed more apocalyptic than any of the other pieces.

Ceci: That one reminded me a lot of The Wasteland. The idea of grieving, and wading through the madness, which is a line from that piece, it just was more literally apocalyptic one to me.

Kessiah: But still with really cool visuals. I don’t know what Ceci thinks of that piece and what she visualizes, when she’s reading it, but I got some strange, strange images in my head, when I was reading it.

The weird part for me, was they seem to be attempting to put off the end of the world, delay it, with these freezer boxes, but it ended up coming anyway. And the inevitability of it was the most profound moment for them, I think.

Kessiah: Instead of going in the freezer boxes, they just wanted to be there to witness it. The beauty of it. The beauty of the end, I guess.

Ceci: I think they all realize that the apocalypse was inevitable, and I think that’s the way we function, to some extent. I know I do. At least recently, only in the last year or two, I’ve been thinking a lot about it because of so many crazy climate changes and all these things that are happening.

Kessiah: And also, how it relates to the song, “Crater Head”. Just the idea of what it means to have relationships with people in a non-physical sense. Cybernetic relationships. That in itself to me, has apocalyptic undertones. Just because it’s like, is this the end of mankind if we’re not able to have these intimate human connections with other people? If we’re able to replicate them in cyberspace? In a purely digital sense, what does that mean? And I think that’s something that Ceci really tackled in writing the lyrics to the song. And both of us really seen that with the vacuity of online dating. It’s a cyclical thing. And that is this depressing, end of the world, apocalyptic type shit. But there’s brief moments of happiness, followed by long moments of sadness [Laughs]. Or you think, you’re happy, but really you’re sad.

I think it ties into what you were saying before about everything being mediated. There’s a sense that the apocalypse could just be the act of widening this gap between people. And I was thinking that the last story is kind of defamiliarizing the familiar. It takes something that we know (a bath) and makes it something we don’t know.

Kessiah: And what we know and what we don’t know is touched on in the violin piece. She’s walking down the hallway and she kind of likes the anonymity, but also the fact that at any moment she could be discovered.

Ceci: Well it takes an innane thing and kind of makes it sexual, or filthy. The character even says “here I am exposed, here I am, still a secret.” And I think that’s kind of what you’re talking about. It’s another common thread.

Kessiah: I think the pieces you selected were very applicable to the music we write. Ceci generally writes all the lyrics, I’ve written a few of the songs’ lyrics. They’re deeply deeply personal. I find, more often then not, about personal struggle. We try to make it so that people can relate to that. For our generation, building relationships in this day and age is incredibly difficult, even though technology should afford us the ability to meet people with more ease, but if anything, it destructs that. Ceci can speak for herself, but I’ve written lyrics for this project that are just about deep, deep personal struggle. I can’t really say more than that without giving everything away. I think it’s easier to write songs about that then happy puppies and sunshine. I kind of like living in a little bit of darkness.

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