Monday, November 14, 2011

What is Stephen Beachy reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Stephen Beachy, author of boneyard.

His entry begins:
I've just finished Bhanu Kapil's Humanimal, which I'm teaching in a class on Narrating Nonfiction at USF's MFA Program. I chose it because it straddles the line between Nonfiction and poetry, a weird and interesting line to straddle, and because it serves partially as a speculative investigation of two girls, Amala and Kamala, who were discovered in India in the 20th century being raised by wolves. I can never read enough or think enough about children raised by wolves, both literally and figuratively. Which is kind of like the other wonderful, slim little book I've just...[read on]
About boneyard, from the publisher:
Jake Yoder, a precocious boy caught between Amish culture and the modern world, sits in his sixth-grade classroom writing stories at the behest of a stern but charismatic teacher. Jake’s stories feature children who are crushed, imprisoned, and distorted, yet somehow flailing around with a kind of bedazzled awe, trying to find a way out. His characters wander through Amish farms, one-room schoolhouses, South American plains, mental institutions, exotic cities, and prisons; his often haunting and beautiful sentences seem constructed to the beat of an obsessive internal rhythm.

The strange logic and disturbing shifts in Jake’s tales reveal a young boy processing intense emotional experiences in the wake of his mother’s suicide and his own proximity to the schoolroom shootings at Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, in 2006. Jake imagines fantastic journeys, magical transformations, and rock stardom as alternatives, it seems, to his own grim reality and the limitations of his life among the Amish.

Novelist Stephen Beachy frames Jake’s work with commentary from both himself and editor Judith Owsley Brown, in which they offer their very different views on Amish culture, literary context, the use of psychoactive medications for children, Stephen’s own mental health, and the reality of Jake Yoder’s unverified existence.
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Beachy's website; view the boneyard trailer.

Beachy is the author of the novels The Whistling Song and Distortion, as well as the twinned novellas Some Phantom/No Time Flat. His writing has appeared in BOMB, The New York Times Magazine, Chicago Review, Best Gay American Fiction, New York magazine and elsewhere. Raised by an ex-Amish father in Iowa, he now lives in California and teaches at the University of San Francisco.

My Book, The Movie: boneyard.

Writers Read: Stephen Beachy.

--Marshal Zeringue