Three notes

1. I answered a few brief questions over at the website dedicated to Creatures, a retrospective anthology collecting great monster stories from the past 30 years. I’m pleased and honored to have “The Monsters of Heaven” included alongside contributions from Jim Shepard, Clive Barker, Kelly Link, Laird Barron, and many others.

Here’s one of the questions, to give you an idea of what they’re like:

If you could be a monster, which one would you choose, and why?

I would be a werewolf. That may not be very original, but I don’t care. Werewolves have always been my favorite monster. I think they’re terrifying, for one. I don’t see them as the furry-faced muppets of the old Universal horror movies; I see them as great, bristle-haired beasts, their fur matted and filthy, their breath rank, their muscles trembling with rage. I love the idea of surrendering to rage, of giving in to the violent dream. So much of life is repression. So many words bitten off before we can speak them, so many deserving necks left unthrottled. The idea of letting that rage run rampant, of feeling bones break between my teeth, is a little intoxicating.

2. Here is a passage from an essay by Rachel Yoder called “Awkward Walks With Unavailable Men,” which can be found in the current issue of The Sun. It’s beautiful, and I think you should read it.

One summer morning when I was five, I walked into my grandmother’s bedroom unannounced. She was sitting in her spindle-backed chair, looking out the window at the cornfields. She had just taken down her hair.

Her hair. My God. You could write a whole bible about that hair. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen: my Mennonite grandmother’s pearl-white hair hanging down her back, unspooled and luminescent, long like a girl’s, with the fire of the sun in it.

Before she saw me, I stood there for a moment inside a thin skin of knowing and mystery, inside something I could not comprehend other than to think, Pretty, other than to think, I want. Oh, her silver-white hair. That beauty could be both so old and so innocent, so pure and so pulsing, so urgent it made me want to touch, to look, to feel, and then to run away and hide. That beauty was her hair and the sun and the cornfields but also the bed and her body, her skin and lips. That beauty was my grandmother then, but also my grandmother before, on the day she’d given birth; at her wedding; as a small girl. That beauty would die. That beauty began to slip away the moment she turned and looked at me.

3. I found this song online the other day. Royal Fingerbowl was a big deal in New Orleans for about five minutes, recording a small handful of albums, before the frontman Alex McMurray went on to a host of other musical projects. But man, this band knew that town. Their first record, Happy Birthday, Sabo, is the city distilled. This song recalls to me many a bleary morning, with the sky breaking into light, and the warm beauty of the recent night, of women and of friends, lingering like a good dream which turned out to be true.


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