Scotts McClanahan is the author of CRAPALACHIA, HILL WILLIAM, STORIES I,II, and V, and THE COLLECTED SCOTT MCCLANAHAN.
His books feel haunted. Reading them will fill you with his ghosts. The ghosts are old friends and family members and recipes.
But his stories are also goofy, dirty, unpretentious and heart breaking. Most of them take place in his home town in West Virginia. He writes about this strange place in a way that is so worn in and familiar that it will make you feel at home there. You will even feel at home in the ugly sides of the place.
Scott agreed to do an interview with THE BONKNESS MONSTERS. It took place on the internet.
THE BONKNESS MONSTERS: You have three collections of short stories. There’s stories I. Stories II. Then there is stories V. What happened to stories three and four?
SCOTT MCCLANAHAN: The Stories V! thing was really just a joke. I don’t know if anyone would care about the titles if I just named them 3 and 4. But who knows. It’s like that scene in Bunuel where these guys are passing back and forth these pictures and you think it’s a bunch of porno pics, but then Bunuel shows you what they are at the end and they aren’t scandalous at all. It’s just a bunch of pics of ostriches. But I guess if you get off on ostriches then that would be perfect. Maybe they’ll turn out to be ostriches.
TBM: In an interview with oxford America you wrote: “Prose needs to get sloppy again and then maybe we can find something useful. We need more pimples on asses, less air brushing and spray-on tans, because books need to be more like us, human.” Name some writers that you think are good at writing sloppy prose. And I mean sloppy in that good way.
SM: Balzac, Dostoevsky, Twain and on and on and on. Then we let the Henry James and the Flaubert’s of the world come in and neuter it. Do you know the parable of the old bull and the young bull? The young bull says to the old bull. Hey man, let’s run down there and fuck ONE of those cows. He’s young and ready to go. But the old bull just laughs and shakes his head. Then he says. No, why don’t we WALK down there quietly and fuck them ALL. Prose used to be so sloppy it could do anything. It could create whole worlds. And anybody could do it if they had enough life in them. Now it’s just something we study. Too many young bulls.
TBM: Most of your books take place in your hometown in West Virginia. Has writing about this place changed how you see it?
SM: Nah, it’s still a place where stuff like this happens. Thank god there are still people out there who will set state police cruisers on fire. http://www.charlestondailymail.com/policebrfs/201112150038
TBM: Things are getting really futuristic. How do you feel about the internet, twerking, and cell phones and things like that?
SM: I’m sure the ancient Egyptians felt futuristic as well. Everything eventually becomes stuff you put in a yard sale.
TBM: Do you consider yourself to be a sentimental person?
SM: Only when it comes to thinking about when I first met Juliet Escoria in New York. I guess there’s a difference between sentiment and sentimentality though. I can still see her eyes sparkling in Book Thug Nation. This song makes me think of her. We should put it in the interview.
TBM: What’s the worst movie you ever loved?
SM: Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Saves Christmas. I pretty much love all the Ernest movies. Jim Varney was actually a trained Shakespearean actor. It’s like most of us. We think of ourselves as Lears but actually wind up Ernest.