“Rhinestone Cowboys Part 1” at The Coil Mag

Part 1 of my seven-part, bi-weekly essay series RHINESTONE COWBOYS is up at The Coil Mag (run by the fabulous Alternating Current Press).

The series, part-memoir and part-historical essay and featuring original watercolor portraits of Western cinema figures, aims to dismantle the notions of what a Western is and dissect one of the most important times in American history as seen primarily through film and popular culture in order to fully understand the Western genre’s impact and weight.

In Part 1, I talk about Quigley Down Under, being fascinated with the vast Western landscape, and the complex legacy of the Cowboy and the Western genre:

I still remember seeing Quigley Down Under for the first time, the confusion that set in after: Can a Western be set in different countries? Is this genre, and the mythos surrounding it, uniquely American? Or does the sour machismo, the shoot-outs, the toxic male bravado transcend geographical boundaries?

A huge thanks to Leah for giving this series a home. You can read Part 1 here.

Coming in Part 2: Jeff Goldblum in Silverado, and rectifying how Western movies have, erroneously, “defined” American history since the birth of film.


Interview at Steph Post’s Book Bites

Brilliant author Steph Post was kind enough to include me in her BOOK BITES series. I talk about my Western novella MESILLA, research and influences, and more. Here’s a taste:

What was something interesting you learned while researching that didn’t make it into one of your books?

For Mesilla, it was a lot of stuff, to be honest: I love the history of the American West (while recognizing how problematic it has been to mythologize it in popular culture). And yet, I get swept up in all the little nooks and crannies that aren’t readily talked or written about. I had a scene I wanted to put in about feral camels in the Southwest United States—they were part of the very real United States Camel Corp, an ill-fated experiment to import camels to be used as pack animals in Texas and New Mexico territories. Once the Civil War hit, the Corp was disbanded and the camels either were sold or escaped. I loved the idea of my characters coming into contact with them, even in passing, this romantic notion that the camels have flourished out here in the wilds, no longer bothered by humans.

CNF piece “In a Chapel Built of Trees” at Hypertrophic Literary

Grateful that my creative nonfiction piece “In a Chapel Built of Trees”—about an old growth pine forest and the dissolution of a young relationship—has found a new home in the Summer 2018 issue of Hypertrophic Literary.

And that’s what drew us there: the old growth forest, preserved pines estimated to be between 350 and 375 years old. Massive-trunked trees — some with girths of more than four feet, even! — a forest of them, untouched by man. You and I were always drawn to places like that, the serenity of those ancient landscapes. We had wandered in, gasped aloud to one another, “What was the world even like when these trees were saplings?” and stood in awe of them. The trails were quiet and we were alone. At one point, I wedged myself into the cavity of a dead jack pine, tried to make you laugh.

A mighty thanks to Lynsey, Madeline, and Jeremy—I’m grateful to be included in such a stunning issue, inside and out.

New graphic memoir triptych “Youth at a Glance” at Sweet Literary

I’m overjoyed to have “Youth at a Glance”—a triptych of graphic nonfiction/watercolor pieces about church puppets, roller skating, and Casio VCR watches—in the new issue of Sweet Literary.

A big thanks to Leslie Salas and the editors for taking these. Here’s a few quick screenshots—check out the full images at Sweet, as well as on my Art page.

New CNF piece “Anthropocene Moves” at decomP

I’m thrilled that my CNF piece “Anthropocene Moves”—about life and loss and bringing extinct animals back from the dead—is in the new issue of decomP Magazine: 

Almost no sound came out when he opened his small mouth. We touched his head, we told him we loved him. He died a week later while we were back at school navigating doomed relationships, grueling class schedules. But we never told him he wasn’t a mistake, and we regret that, still. He lay there, tucked behind us, quietly, feebly, nearing his end. All we could do was give our warmth. All we could do was be warm.

The piece features incredible illustrations by John Vestevich (see a sample below!). Plus, there’s audio of me reading the piece at the top of the story page, in case you care to hear this Midwest boy prattle on about thylacines and giant turtles and more. Eep!

I’m really so humbled—decomP has been a white whale journal of mine for some time. Thanks, Jason, for giving this piece a home. 

New poem “True Indigo” at Cotton Xenomorph

I’m beyond honored that my poem “True Indigo”—about jean jackets and grief and reconnoitering the memories of those we lose—is up at Cotton Xenomorph:

But I didn’t realize putting these things together
created this new thing.
And I’m thinking about it right now
because I have sharp elbows, see?
And my favorite denim jacket has a hole
where elbow and denim meet,
where pink skin now shows through

A monstrous thanks to Hannah and Chloe and Teo for publishing this piece and for all that they do—Cotton Xenomorph has launched into the lit scene like a meteor and is promoting and doing such important work. Do check them out. 


My 2017 Top Ten List at Little Fiction

I was overjoyed to be asked to participate in Little Fiction‘s annual contributor top ten list post. The idea for me was to write about the things that brought me great reflection and inspiration in 2017, so I wrote about thylacines and train robbers and great bristlecone pines and fancy pigeons and (obviously) denim and much more. Here’s a taste:

Check it out, and check out all of the lists (they really are, all, fantastic).