Candyman, Oct 5 2021, Tuscaloosa. Concept 10 execution 8
my book is finally out! I don’t know how to self-promote without sounding like uriah heep so I will just go ahead and set this bushel aside.
People are saying:
- “a breezy fable of empire, class, conquest and ecocide.”—New York Times
- “Pete Beatty’s very funny, rambunctious debut novel, “Cuyahoga,” is not a Trump-era allegory. It could be read with pleasure in 2002, or 1950. Or 1837, when most of it is set. It’s a satire of tall tales, but not a distant, too-cool treatment. Beatty, a Cleveland-area native, deeply inhabits the tone and style of the form, paying sidelong homage to an essential American genre.”—Los Angeles Times
- “[Beatty’s] book is really good: boldly conceived, imaginatively written and wholly original”—Columbus Dispatch
- “… a richly embroidered, most original tale”—Akron Beacon Journal
I’ll be doing events over the course of the month, to read a bit from the book, chat with people who inspired and guided me, have a chuckle or three. Come hang out! And obviously grip a copy of the book, from Square Books, or your personal preferred independent bookseller, or Bookshop, or wherever. In the meantime, stay safe, clean your gutters, make sure to stretch and hydrate.
I am somewhat confused and entirely flattered that my book is coming out in this October from Scribner. Here are some nice things that fine people have voluntarily said about the whole situation:
“Cuyahoga defies all modest description: It’s deliriously fun to read: nonstop laughs, pages that whiz by, and a style that seems to gather up and beautify an entire history of American bullshit artistry… Cuyahoga is ten feet tall if it’s an inch, and it’s a ramshackle joy from start to finish.”
—Brian Phillips, author of Impossible Owls
“Pete Beatty’s glorious Cuyahoga is a booming hymn of history, a praisesong both somber and funny…This unlikely, beautiful novel sings with a heart as big as its subject, and with sentences that demand your complete and total attention.” –Jessica Anthony, author of Enter the Aardvark
“A work that manages to simultaneously deconstruct the tall tale while igniting its evolution…Beatty expertly bridges the gap between larger than life exploits and the molecular moments that make up human existence and significance.”
—Sergio de la Pava, author of A Naked Singularity and Lost Empress
“As comically genius as a Coen Brothers film; with narrative skill and voice as singular as Faulkner… Page by page, I felt like the top of my head had blown off: even the most seemingly thrown-away lines left me astonished at their efficiency and beauty.”
—Natalie Jenner, author of The Jane Austen Society
“…Cuyahoga is a steroidal frontier romp of whiskey and vernacular, a hundred boisterous souls fumbling to make their city a whole, and one humongous romance. In his rousing debut, Beatty has handed Cleveland a tall tale equal to its own ragged, enormous truth.”
—David Giffels, author of Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America
“A great big American bouncy castle of a book—strange, exhilarating, hilarious and alive—and every sentence so perfect! An absolute delight.”
—Ben Loory, author of Tales of Falling and Flying
“…Cuyahoga is a singular feat of language and energized inventive storytelling. In Big Son, I met a mythic American hero, and in his brother Meed, a gifted, indelible raconteur… This marvelous tragicomic tale impressed upon my head and heart—twin joys.”
—Mitchell S. Jackson, author of Survival Math and The Residue Years
“Inspired … an American original”
“An improbable, downright preposterous yarn ably spun and a great entertainment for a time in need of laughter”
—Kirkus (starred review)
lenten season 2020: marriage, pandemic, home ownership. i took advantage of the day-before-lockdown to jog on mostly empty streets. Without meaning to*, I found myself in Tuscaloosa’s overwhelmingly african-american southwest side, and occasionally snapping phone pictures of things that caught my eye: the attractive mid-century modern office attached to a pocket-sized steel mill; a gigantic aloe plant in someone’s front yard; various items of poignant rubbish, the kind of things my eyes always catch on. I say hi to people as I go and they reply in a guarded-friendly way.
i snaked around and across the train tracks and overpasses and six-lane 45 mph thoroughfares and went to publix. some people were plague-shopping and other people were just getting sandwiches. i got a pint of scientifically concocted diet ice cream and sat in the sun while dining. I read news stories on my phone, which were chiefly discussions of whether the president is bad, and if so, how bad, and whether badness matters. i realized during this moment of attenuated consumption that my recent and ongoing conduct was pretty much an exact match with a running gag from Do the Right Thing. The white guy in the celtics jersey, jogging through bed-stuy, talking to people like he knew them.
I am not in the habit of reading poetry and i don’t know much about Rumi, apart from his odd position as an ecstatic devotional poet of Islam who has somehow found this butchered life in translation as a bard of big white feelings – all I know about Rumi, apart from that stuff, derives from a conversation I had maybe two years ago. It was about how people pray in present-day Iran, which is not my normal line of talk, but I was the listener in this case.
The person I was talking to told me about this Rumi poem, which is called “Moses and the Shepherd,” or something like that. In that poem, Moses is doing his God-haunted thing and walking around and he comes across the shepherd in a grove, and overhears him praying in simple, clear, vernacular language, asking God for help. Essentially showing his ass to God, not as a gesture of defiance or insult but because his pants were sliding down a little. And Moses comes rumbling out of whatever thicket and says to the shepherd, Don’t you talk to God like he’s your uncle. And the shepherd isn’t quite sure what to say, but before he can reply, God actually takes up for him and tells Moses to shut up, more or less. I am thinking a lot about what it means to talk, not just to God but to the whole world (which is to say, God, which is to say, you, which is to say […]
- southwest airlines flights from BHM to DCA to CLE to BHM, all of which involved layovers at MDW
- little women at middleburg hts regal cinema. both ticketholders suffering from flu, full of middle eastern food
- 01/10/19 Bumblebee
- 01/15/19 If Beale Street Could Talk
- 01/29/19 Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse (on the leaderboard for 2019 best movie)
- 03/19/19 Captain Marvel trash
- 03/29/19 Us (see Spiderman: Into…)
- 05/14/19 Pokemon Detective Pikachu (spoiler: it turns out that pikachu is the dead cop dad)
- 05/24/19 Booksmart (barfing during sex is never not art. the last movie i saw before leaving town for a writing residency during which i got a full time job back in tuscaloosa so a curtain came down on my life and came up on a …. different chunk of my life. like the part in Super Mario 2 where you pick your character. Is Super Mario 2 influenced by Twin Peaks.)
- 06/26/19 Toy Story 4 (not as good as Toy Story 3 but still good)
- 07/02/19 Spider-Man: Far from Home (enjoyable and I like that Tom Holland who is somehow British)
- 07/03/19 Jaws (honestly I wish I’d seen it more often starting earlier in life. A joy. Talking about SHARKIN)
- 07/09/19 Midsommar (the day after I started my new job; my amigo hated it, I thought it was pretty alright if a little tiresome by the end)
- 07/16/19 Crawl (about what you would expect for a move about fighting alligators in a crawlspace. good father-daughter dynamic)
- 07/24/19 The Matrix (better than I remembered but still articulating a future-aesthetic that I find v v v corny and dumb)
- 08/16/19 The Farewell (I didn’t like the v very very end where the filmmaking indirectly suggests that cancer can be cured with posi vibes but this was great sentimental stuff)
- 08/25/19 Scheme Birds (at Sidewalk Film Fest, v good)
- 08/25/19 Recorder (also at Sidewalk, good)
- 08/27/19 Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- 09/03/19 Angel Has Fallen (Gerard Butler preemptive retrospective continues)
- 10/21/19 The world premiere of the opera adaptation of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (as far as experimental prose collage opera adaptations go … it seemed fine)
- 10/25/19 Joker (bad movie)
- 11/19/19 The Strip: Tuscaloosa’s Most Colorful Quarter Mile (Bama Theatre)
- 11/23/19 Parasite (at the Patton Creek mall sprawl in Hoover)
- 11/24/19 Tannehill State Park (not a movie but they did give us an old timey red tear-off ticket) (support local parks)
- 11/28/19 Knives Out (the way the nurse dressed will go down as a historically significant document of dressing like its 1992
- 12/14/19 Queen and Slim (at The EDGE 12 in Bhm) I praise the authentic Clevelandness of the scene where Officer Sturgill Simpson gets it. Also, the weirdly detailed use of the Forty Niner Restaurant name but not the interior of the Forty Niner which is admittedly too small and dingy for cinema
- 12/24/19 Children’s Christmas service at the National Cathedral in Washington DC-i have ideas on how this could have been improved, DM for details
- 12/27/19 Cedar
- 12/30/19 Uncut Gems (Cedar Lee, Cleveland Heights OH)
as mentioned in a several years stale post i try my best to keep a record of every movie i watch in a theater. i do not know why i feel compelled to do this but i’m doing it, so that’s a kind of default explanation. unless otherwise stated all movies i saw in 2018 were at the janky cobb multiplex in tuscaloosa.
- 01/22/18 Den of Thieves (feel I should say a word in my own defense here; you’ll notice maybe starting with Den of Thieves that my movie attendance suddenly got less discriminating. the fault lies not with me but with my decision to get MoviePass)
- 01/24/18 Darkest Hour
- 01/26/18 The Shape of Water
- 01/31/18 Phantom Thread (Carmike Lee Branch somewhere in the outer darkness of BHM)
- 02/06/18 Coco still the best movie i have seen in 2018
- 02/07/18 Hostiles sort of good but possibly also sort of bad
- 02/10/18 The Post bourgeois bedtime story / elegantly arranged bullshit
- 02/16/18 Black Panther
- 03/03/18 Game Night
- 04/13/18 A Quiet Place why would you get pregnant again after the rise of the murder aliens whose heads are a giant ear, Jim from the Office?
- 04/14/18 Isle of Dogs
- 05/04/18 Avengers blah blah Infinity War inert technological wank
- 05/15/18 Zama (Harris Theater, Pittsburgh PA)
- 05/25/18 Solo: A Star Wars Story (Stadium 10, Durham NC)
- 06/02/18 Upgrade the blade runner ass mark zuckerberg epigone who plays with hologram weather. also the guy who sneezes nano weapons
- 06/12/18 Victoria & Abdul (Bama Theatre) excruciating and problematic, not in the same way at the same time. for garrison keillor fans except swap in racism for sex pesting
- 06/23/18 Superfly An earnest and legitimate B-movie which offered some extreme pleasures and much more tedium; all of the best parts involve the bad guy gang named SNOW PATROL and the very best parts involve the leader of SNOW PATROL crashing his lambo into a confederate monument and dying in the ensuing fireball, don’t worry, it’s not really the kind of thing you can spoil
- 07/03/18 Sicario 2 Day of the Soldado I don’t know why they didn’t stick with either spanish or english entirely for the subtitle. This movie is a vaguely reality flavored neo western about tuff stuff but benicio del toro’s persistence as a guy who does not actually try to act but it someone become acting through an alchemy of expectations and circumstance … i don’t know where this is going but i’m ok with it
- 07/19/18 Sorry to Bother You
- 07/29/18 Mission Impossible Part 6
- 08/11/18 BlacKkKlansman
- 08/16/18 The Meg (pretty sure this screenplay had no words with more than two syllables)
- 08/26/18 Crazy Rich Asians (they didn’t seem that crazy)
- 09/19/18 White Boy Rick (I didn’t actually see this movie, I was trying to go see something else with people and it was sold out; it’s a couple minutes shorter walk to leave the back way so i just bought a moviepass ticket to White Boy Rick to save myself the schlep, as it was a warm evening)
- 10/06/18 Sisters Brothers @ Tara 4 in Atlanta, GA (some kind of thunderstorms clearly forming in my brain in this late summer season – I drove from Tuscaloosa to Atlanta on a Saturday for no apparent reason other than to see this movie – I also drove up Mt Cheaha to Alabama’s highest elevation, then got lost somewhere south of Talladega? then ate ramen in ATL, walked around the block twice, saw this and drove the three hours back to Tuscaloosa. movie was pretty good? not three hours drive good. hilariously it played in tuscaloosa a couple weeks later)
- 10/23/18 Halloween
- 10/27/18 Hunter Killer Gerard Butler patronus of MoviePass
- 11/06/18 Mid90s – not as good as Minding the Gap
- 11/23/18 Widows I saw this with my mom!
- 12/24/18 The Favourite @ The Belcourt in Nashville TN. Prelude to the great xmas airbnb debacle of 2018 in which i wound up sleeping in my car on xmas eve. memories
- 12/27/18 They Shall Not Grow Old @ Southpark Mall in Strongsville OH
RIP oakland-A’s colorway yankees hat, purchased at one of the ubiquitous hat and sneaker stores on 5th ave in brooklyn, oct 2015, lost at sea sept 2016 somewhere near bogart, georgia. i bought you on the weekend two good people got married, and i left you on the roof of my car while driving away from a raceway minimart. preceded in rest by size 8 1935 cleveland spiders hat, survived by many brothers and sisters. i commend you to your rest.
places i bought gas
(noteworthy MLB relief pitchers born there)
Baldwin Park, CA (mike munoz)
Brawley, CA (sergio romo, rudy seanez)
Colorado City, TX
Deming, NM (wade blasingame)
Gallup, NM (willie adams)
Memphis, TN (george sherrill)
Newberry Springs, CA
Ozark, AR (mutt williams)
Tucson, AZ (tom wilhelmsen)
Tuscaloosa, AL (brandon medders)
CLEAVE to Jehovah your God.
in the way of dramatuss persony the mainest of the players is Cleveland herself and from whence that name derived Truly it is a disappointment to myself and others that the city were only called after the boss Connecticut surveyor who up and fled east as soon as he sketched out the mere bones of a place But we might skip past old Moses Cleaveland as a dead father and a father lacking grit at that and examine his name
I looked in Websters and it tells to CLEAVE is To stick to adhere to hold to In the Psalms bones cleave to flesh Men cleave to wifes Most names come from the days of Saxons and Angles and signify the trades what men of those days held
So a Cleavelander was a man who attached himself firmly to land or maybe the land the dirt attached itself to him This Our Cleveland is the cleaving together of Cleveland and Ohio city The Cleaving together of a people into a settlement The Cleaving of an Inkstain on the map out of a million lives.
Thou didst CLEAVE the earth with rivers.
Already I am beside myself because Websters book give two meanings of Cleave and the second one misbehaves Now for a word to have two meanings that is squarely in the nature of words for example LAND could signify any number of related ways The earth itself The people or nation who work that earth Also a person could LAND on their rear end if they was to fell from a tree.
But where the confusion enters is that CLEAVE has got the second sense To part or divide to split or rive To open or sever by force Cleveland is Cleaved Cloven Cleft by a river The Cuyahoga.
I am not a scholer of tongues and I would like to speak with one Where might I write to them because these meanings seem to be entirely at war with each other What might it signify to be named Cleaveland in this other meaning of it To have as your trade the breaking up of lands and peoples I suppose The Cleaving of an country out of what come before.
A position regarding names.
At the bottom of every matter in this history I find a quarrel Even in the meaning of the name of the place Thought on the two Cleaves and tried to reason out how to break up is the same as to stick together and the only honest example I get is the BRIDGE itself That bridge meant to Cleave us one way but Cleaved us the other And then the Second Cleaving resulted in a Third which was mainly the same as the first intended
I consider that the Bridge War of 1836 as a whole was about the condition of being kin Of being together Of coming out of one womb without any politicking in the matter and the discontents dammed up behind that Do not mean to trouble this telling with poetic talk but this notion come to me That we all come out of a womb and we only move farther apart That womb is as close as kin get and you spent the rest of your days with one foot going back toward it and the other heading the opposite direction until you in the end Cleave yourself.