Archive for July, 2016

No Light at the End of the Tunnel

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 24, 2016 by stantonmccaffery

light at the end of the tunnelSo here I am, making good on my word. In my last post I said I would try to keep up to posting twice a month. And here I am posting again for the second time in July. It’s an achievement, really.

Shit I’ve gotten published or posted elsewhere

I did an interview with crime writer Charlie Stella for Neon Grisly. I think my questions were a little on the basic side, but man did Charlie give some great answers. I found it inspiring. You’ll have to read it to find out exactly why, but his story of becoming a writer gave me encouragement to stick to it. Charlie’s also got some great reading recommendations, which I’ve already started on.

Shit I’ve read

WhereAllLightTendsToGoPB

This right here is an incredible book. To be honest, I picked it up because of the cover. The bleakness of it just spoke to me as something I’d be in to. I was a little disappointed at first that the story’s told in first person – I don’t know, it just felt like I’d get a better view of the world if it were set in third person – but I got over that pretty quickly.

Much like Dodgers, which I talked about in my last post, this book’s main character is born into a life of crime. Instead of a young black man in Los Angeles – the case in Dodgers – the protagonist here is a young white man in Appalachia. It’s not a life he chose, nor one he’s particularly well suited for. To me, in an age of decreasing social mobility, books and stories about people being stuck are incredibly important.

I’m not going to give a full review here, but I will tell you that the best parts of this book are the protagonist’s reflections on his own life.

Here’s my favorite excerpt:

“There was never a moment in my life when I bought into the idea of light at the end of the tunnel. That old adage rests entirely on the direction being traveled. Out of darkness toward the light, folks might find some sort of hope in moving forward, some sort of anticipation for what awaits them. But my entire life I’d been traveling in the opposite direction, and for those who move further into darkness, the light becomes a thing onto which we can only look back. Looking back slows you down. Looking back destroys focus. Looking back can get you killed.”

I’ve been thinking about that passage a lot since reading it. I’ll talk more later on in this post about that.

Shit I’ve seen

the night of

You’ve probably heard of HBO’s new show, The Night Of. It’s about a naïve college student that makes some bad but kind of typical and understandable bad decisions and ends up getting in trouble with the law. I don’t want to say any more than that about the plot for fear of ruining it before somebody gets a chance to watch it, but I think it gives an accurate depiction of what it’s like to get caught up in the criminal justice system – it’s a freakin’ nightmare.

Riz Ahmed, who plays the protagonist, Nas, is great. His facial expressions alone make you empathize with what the character is going through. It’s just one more thing that adds to the very authentic feeling the shows gives off. The kid looks absolutely terrified. He’s seeing some rough stuff and the way he reacts makes you realize that no, there’s no way this kid is ready for what’s in store for him.

Shit I’ve been thinking about/politics

July 2016 is shaping up to be a real month from Hell. In the U.S. there have been more  incidents of police shooting unarmed black men (Here’s a story of one I find particularly disturbing). Despite this I still see and hear people claim that police violence against African Americans is not a significant problem and that it’s blown out of proportion by the media.

In Nice, France, a man of Tunisian descent drove a truck through a crowd of people during a Bastille Day celebration and killed 84 people. I watched my Facebook feed fill with Trump quotes and all sorts of nonsense about terrorism before anyone knew anything at all about the attacker. It’s not like it’s just the Trump folks that do things like this either. As the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has pointed out, the New York Times also labeled the incident an act of terror with very little evidence. Meanwhile, a U.S.-led coalition strike against ISIS in Syria killed at least 85 civilians and got next to zero coverage on major new outlets.

There’s so much more I could go on about, but chances are you’ve already heard about it. Anyway, I’m familiar with arguments that we’ve actually witnessed a decrease in violence in the world over the last one hundred years. I’m also aware that there have been great strides in healthcare that can help people live longer and healthier lives. Technology helps us communicate better with one another. And shit, we’ve got Netflix. But, like the protagonist in Where All Light Tends to Go, which I mentioned above, I can’t claim in the midst of all of this that it feels like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It certainly feels like – and here’s some evidence that it’s more than a feeling – that things are in fact getting worse, like we’re moving away from the light and not towards it.

I’d actually go further and say that the notion of progress in general, regardless of what’s going on at the moment, is problematic. The idea of permanent progress, at least. As much as I would like to agree with Martin Luther King Jr. in saying that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice, I just don’t see it. I see some steps forward and then I see some steps backward. In fact, I don’t see any sort of arc leading anywhere at all.

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Return of the Blog

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2016 by stantonmccaffery

Return of the Blog

Return of the blog

It’s been about two years since I’ve done anything at all with this blog. I let it sit for so damn long, and really just wanted to take it down because I had no idea what to do with it. The only reason I didn’t was because I was just too lazy.

I didn’t do anything here for so long because I’ve been writing elsewhere. I’ve found some really awesome people to read my writing and help me improve it and I’ve actually gotten a few things published. For a while I used this space as somewhere to put my writing because I couldn’t get it seen by anyone any other way. That’s not the case anymore.

But I still think there’s a point for a writer to have a blog. There should be a central place where you can find all of a writer’s work. So I’m going to keep this going.

Here’s what I’m going to do. Or rather, what I’m going to try to do. I’m going to post here about twice a month. They’re going to be pretty short posts. I’m going to include links to things I’ve gotten published elsewhere. I’ll also include book, movie, and music recommendations as well as my reflections on politics and some personal musings.

I’m going to break it into headings like you’ll see below. So, here it goes.

Shit I’ve gotten published or posted elsewhere:

I’ve been writing some reviews for my buddy over at Neon Grisly. You should check out this site in general. Right now he’s got some great reviews up of some great books. I know he’s got some other things planned, so keep an eye on the space.

I did one review of Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friend’s Exorcism. This is a really fun book. I went to the book launch for it at the Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan too. Hendrix dressed up as a Catholic Cardinal and read from some book written in the 80’s about the dangers of comic books and heavy metal.

I did another review on Neon Grisly of Charlie Stella’s Tommy Red. I read this book twice it was so good. I did an interview with Charlie about his writing for Neon Grisly too that’ll come out in a few days.

Lastly, in terms of shit I’ve got up elsewhere, I got a story published in a new magazine called Between Worlds. The stories called Out of Body Vacation. I tried to have fun writing it. Hopefully you’ll have fun reading it.

Shit I’ve listened too:

gojira-magma

The new Gojira album, Magma is freakin’ awesome. One of their older albums, From Mars to Sirius, is one of my favorite metal albums of all time. I think this one might be just as good. It gets better with every listen. Seriously.

Here’s a song.

Shit I’ve seen:

the_lobster_cadre

Just go see the movie The Lobster, okay? It hilarious and smart and there’s a scene about masturbating involving a toaster that might be one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever laughed at.

Shit I’ve read:

Dodgers

I just finished reading Dodgers by Bill Beverly. Holy Crap. What a book. It’s about crime, mostly, but it’s also about siblings and making decisions when all you’ve got in front of you is shitty choices. It also touches on what trauma does to a person. These are, as you’d know if you’ve read my own stuff, issues close to me.

I also tried to read Joe Hill’s The Fireman. I didn’t finish it because it was a stinker. I normally don’t shit on books, but Joe Hill’s got enough praise he can handle one jerk-off saying he was disappointed. I don’t know what happened here. I’ve loved everything else he’s ever done. I don’t need to elaborate any more. Just go to Amazon and read the one star reviews, those are the ones I agree with.

Shit I’ve been thinking about/politics:

usa-police-protests

Okay, well, here we go. So if you’re in the United States and you have eyes and ears you know about the events in Baton Rouge and Minnesota and Dallas.

I’ve been troubled. I grew up in a predominately white and predominately working-class neighborhood. Many of the kids I grew up with were totally racist – and they got it from their parents. Since my teenage years I’ve made a concerted effort to distance myself from this shit. Actually, I’ve tried to do more than distance myself from it. I’ve tried to fight it.

I also had some negative run-ins with the police when I was a kid. Yeah, when I was a kid. A lot of that was my own fault. Maybe I’ll go into more detail in a future post, not now. But what I’ve realized as an adult is that if I had been a black kid or perhaps anything other than a white boy, I’d be totally fucked. Actually, I think I’d be dead.

I worked for a number of years too as an Emergency Medical Technician, a position that requires a lot of proximity to cops. I saw first-hand, working next to them, how many cops treat some people – y’know, people of certain skin tones – differently than others.

So this is what I’ve been thinking about. As a writer, I try to hold empathy up as my gold standard. No matter how shitty I think a person is, I try to put myself in their shoes. But I’ve come to a point where I’ve realized empathy can only get you so far. Throughout my life I’ve argued with people about police brutality and all the police killings over the years. People always say to me that I need to think about what the cops are going through. That I need to understand that they just want to go home at the end of the day. I’m sure they do. I see the same arguments on social media now and it occurred to me that empathy does you no good when somebody’s got a boot on your neck. I’m a white guy in the northeast, so I can only understand this so much, of course. But I’m beginning to think empathy might not be what we need here. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s justice.