[Matthew Salesses was kind enough to expand just a bit on his earlier thoughts about ordering his new book, I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying, out now from Civil Coping Mechanisms. Thanks, Matthew!]
I used to have a picture of me standing among the chapters of I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying, which is out this month from Civil Coping Mechanisms, as I reordered the book before submitting it to my editor there. But then I went swimming with my phone in my pocket, and now I have only the memory.
I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying is made up of 115 one-page chapters, which were published in various lit mags as flash fiction pieces. When I was asked to put a book together, I had to figure out how those individual pieces could build into a larger, compelling and hopefully satisfying, arc.
What I did was print out everything I had–then about 140 stories–and ask my wife to clear the room. She kept our baby from crawling over (helpfully, this was before walking), and I tried my best to shoo away the cats. I left aisles between the columns of pages, and I walked between the stories, looking at them from this zoomed-out, very physical perspective. Obviously, I wasn’t going to read them like this, to get down into the details of the stories. What I was looking for was rising and falling action, was pacing, was repetition, was thematic connections. I wanted the reader to get caught up in the larger story, to wonder if my narrator was going to get his act together or not. I didn’t want the reader to be bogged down in places where too many alike stories sided together, or to forget about certain storylines or characters when they disappeared for pages at a time. Continue reading
Matthew Salesses (whose month-long stint as Writer-in-Residence at Necessary Fiction has already been mentioned here) contributes a few thoughts to the ongoing sequencing discussion in his introduction to “Macro, Micro, and the Order of Information.” Continue reading
Our Island of Epidemics
By Matthew Salesses
40 pp. PANK. Paper, $10.00
Our Island of Epidemics is a collection of short, interconnected fictions that offers readers the collective consciousness of an island people who suffer from short-term memory loss, unrequited love, obsession, upstoppably growing hearts (or farts), delirious joy, confused identities, ganglions, lost voices, fainting, creativity, laziness, hunger, dissociation, magic, unusual growth, illogic, overpoliteness, teeth falling out, etc.
Salesses’s skill in laying out these epidemics, these individual stories (or chapters), is that each seems new, richly imagined, and different from the other epidemics. This may be one of the most difficult tricks to pull off in a book organized around a series of epidemics that come in succession, one after another. To surprise readers, to reward their curiosity and defy their expectations, is the particular task a book like this faces, and Salesses makes it happen—confidently and with style.