The Metaphysical Ukulele

The Metaphysical Ukulele

by Sean Carswell

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"Leave it to the audacious Sean Carswell to crack the code on this secret society of writers, especially after so many other publications (the Believer , Bitch , Vanity Fair ) have tried and failed. I'm humbled and grateful to be immortalized in this wily, coltish collection with fellow strummers Flannery, Herman and weird old Uncle Thom."—Pam Houston

"On the surface, Carswell is a literary chameleon, moving effortlessly in and out of voices, genres, and styles, but underneath and above that, he is a born storyteller, always focused on his characters' hearts and minds and fitting ends."—Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day

We all know Herman Melville, Jack Kerouac, Thomas Pynchon, Flannery O'Connor, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, and Pam Houston. Now meet their metaphysical ukuleles.

Mixing the flair of literary invention with real events in each writer's life—Herman Melville living with a tribe of cannibals; Raymond Chandler holding The Blue Dahlia hostage from Paramount Studios; Flannery O'Connor falling in love; Chester Himes threatening to decapitate his landlord, and many more—Sean Carswell takes the nonfiction of some our most famous writer's lives and turns it into exquisite fiction, with a ukulele thrown in for good measure. At times heartbreaking, at times absurd, the stories in this truly one-of-a-kind collection delightfully blur the line between what is life, and what is literature.

Sean Carswell is the author of the novels Drinks for the Little Guy , Train Wreck Girl , and Madhouse Fog , and the short story collections Barney's Crew and Glue and Ink Rebellion . He co-founded the independent book publisher Gorsky Press and the music magazine Razorcake . He currently teaches writing and literature at California State University, Channel Islands.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632460264
Publisher: Ig Publishing
Publication date: 05/10/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Sean Carswell is the author of the novels Drinks for the Little Guy, Train Wreck Girl, and Madhouse Fog. He wrote the short story collections Barney’s Crew and Glue and Ink Rebellion. He co-founded the independent book publisher Gorsky Press and the music magazine Razorcake. He has been a regular contributor to Flipside, Ink 19, and Clamor. His writing has also appeared in such diverse places as the skateboarding magazine Thrasher, tiny ‘zines like Zisk, and prestigious literary journals like The Southeastern Review and The Rattling Wall. He currently teaches writing and literature at California State University Channel Islands.

Table of Contents

  • "Big Books and Little Guitars" explores Herman Melville's career, specifically his time living with the Typee in Nuku Hiva and his relationship with Nathanial Hawthorne. It's written in the style of a cetology chapter from Moby-Dick.
  • "Far Off on Another Planet" features pulp writer Leigh Brackett working on her final screenplay, Star Wars 2, and reflecting on her career, including the time she saved The Big Sleep from William Faulkner's meddling and her times on set with John Wayne and Howard Hawks.
  • "Mad Nights of Springtime" follows Jack Kerouac from his pre-On the Road days until his final decompensation on the Pacific shores near Big Sur.
  • "The Song at the Bottom of the Rabbit Hole" observes 1987 Philip K. Dick Award winner Patricia Geary in her years of obscurity, reflecting on the minor scandal that robbed her of a promising writing career.
  • "The Five-Cornered Square" tells the story of Chester Himes's stressful, nearly broken years as an ex-pat in Europe, from the FBI trailing him to his nights with Richard Wright and James Baldwin to his struggles in Majorca to his encounter with a noir editor who saved his career.
  • "Ukulele Fallout" patches together Richard Brautigan's life and work in a Brautigan-style bricolage.
  • "A Place Called Sickness" goes behind the closed doors of Flannery O'Connor's brief love affair with a Danish textbook salesman.
  • "The Bottom-Shelf Muse" is a noir tribute to Raymond Chandler based upon the time when Chandler held The Blue Dahlia screenplay hostage from Paramount Pictures.
  • "The Wide Empty Sky" follows Pam Houston through the last stop of her book tour, when she's finally able to release the ghost that's been riding piggyback on her since she started writing Contents May Have Shifted.
  • "The Incognito Players" pays homage to Thomas Pynchon through a paranoid tale of a young ukulelist convinced she has joined Pynchon's uke club.
  • "The Reticent Corpse" sends a hapless reporter to interview reclusive Japanese author Yoko Ogawa, only to find him thwarted by a series of bizarre, Ogawa-style obstacles.
  • "Ukes for the Little Guy" satirizes author Sean Carswell's creation myth in the classrooms and schoolyards of swampland Florida.
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