Episode 12: Author Interview: Alex Z. Salinas

Transcript

Carrie: Alright. So, welcome back, Lit Nerds, to our next edition of the Modcast. Today with me I have Alex Z. Salinas. Um, he may not call himself this, but to me he is a “Chicano Poet Extraordinaire,” um, which I think is what you call your Larry Rios character in your, uh, shorts. They’re like 100 words, right?

Alex: Yes — 101 words.

Carrie: Okay, so talk to me about that.

Alex: Well, um, you know, after writing two poetry collections, uh, I, uh. This character that, that I had called, you know, Larry Rios, um, you know popped into my head, and uh, I started writing about this, this guy who I started calling a Chicano Poet Extraordinaire. And he’s very weird and he’s wacky and he’s mysterious and he may be a murderer. 

Carrie: [Laughs] That’s — yes! I have to know about that. Okay, go on.

Alex: Right, and uh, he, yeah. So I just found myself writing 101-word chapters advancing the story of this, this character named Larry Rios, who used to be a fiction writer, and he stopped writing fiction, started writing poetry. He used to be married, so there’s a lot of mysterious things about that. He writes poems about a sword-swallowing frog named Yuks. 

Carrie: Mhmm… 

Alex: Yeah, very strange, and uh, yeah. It just started, started kind of developing into a longer thing and uh, my end goal with this is having 300 chapters about 30,000 words, which would qualify for a short novel. 

Carrie:  Very nice. 

Alex: I’m about two-thirds of the way through. 

Carrie: Very cool! So, okay, so let me get this straight. Yuks, okay, so when, when I read your Larry Rios saga, I’m…I’m not ever sure if Yuks is like a real frog that he has as a pet or if it’s a subject matter. [Laughing] So, can you clarify? Because what you just told me here is like Yuks, [stuttering] the sword-swallowing frog is a subject matter for his poetry, but I thought that Yuks was a pet. 

Alex: Well, you know, I don’t want to ruin anything, but there, there is an explanation why he’s…I guess…There is some explanation in Larry Rios’s past as a child why he becomes fascinated with frogs.

Carrie: Okay…And this hasn’t been revealed yet? 

Alex: Well, it has. It has in the–

Carrie: Oh… it has…

Alex: It has in the course of what I’ve written so far, but you had mentioned earlier…Yeah, I’ve shared these 101-word pieces on my instagram story so they disappear. You know? And I kind of don’t give the audience or viewers…You know, if someone hops in late, they might not know, but I…I also kind of want these 101-word chapters to kind of read like individual stories in a way– in a weird way. So I find that the narrator, sometimes, is, you know, he’s very comical or it is very comical in some chapters, very tender in others, very serious in others. So this is sort of a…It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster narrative.

Carrie: Yeah, um, and I think that, that because, you know, I do check out your Instagram stories, and sometimes you do send me, like, if, you know, I think, maybe if you’ve noticed that if I haven’t popped in to read a [stuttering] Larry… Larry Rio… Larry Rios saga, you’ll like send it to me in a text message. Um, yeah…But, uh, are we ever gonna find out if he actually committed murder?

Alex: That’s the plan! 

Carrie: Okay! Okay–I’m excited because I know that there was…I was reading a series for a while and that was, like, there was almost, like, this like, paranoia because he wasn’t sure if he was going to be caught or not. And, so, I thought that that was really interesting that you were able to capture that in 101 words, you know, really playing around with the language there. 

Alex: Right. The very first chapter, you know, I’ve kind of realized that, you know, almost having 200 of them done now, that I kind of almost tell the whole story in chapter one. Right off the bat, I tell you who this guy is, that he likely committed a murder, that it was a doozy–He had planned it. So all these things are in place, and then it kind of just becomes, you know…So the Larry Rios saga, it takes place both in the present following that, and also dives into the past. And it’s not quite told in chronological order, at least how I have it, so it is a fragmented, very–in the postmodern sense, very fragmented narrative, and, uh, yeah. 

Carrie: I was just thinking in my head — it’s like, oh… this is postmodern and yeah. I was like thinking that, you know, we first met each other in a postmodern class, uh, with Dr. Hill, um, at St. Mary’s so…  

Alex: That’s right. 

Carrie: Yes. Yeah, um. So, okay. So since we’re talking about language, um, I know that–well. [Sighs.] I’m–so, you know I’m a teacher. And one of the ways I get my students interested is I’m like, “Oh, I know a real poet.” [Chuckles.] And so, um, I know you like to play around with language and you wrote this poem recently, “Startin’ something.”

Alex: Yes, yeah. 

Carrie: Um, which, you know, you shared it with me. I was like, oh, that sounds–reminds me a lot of um, subterranean homesick blues, with all the spondees and stuff like that. Um, but you also not only play around with…language and the rhythm of language, but you reference music a lot in your work. So talk to me about that. So talk to me about music, um, talk to me about, you know, that–we, you know, create the Modcast for our Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, but also just to engage people in the study of literature. But how do you–how does you–That’s totally not correct English at all! [Laughter.] “How does you?” Um, how does your, um, poetry or, or how do you reconcile language, um, with the essence of music? 

Alex: Wow, that’s a great question. Um, you know, fairly recently or this past summer, or maybe a little before that I had heard, you know–I’ll partially answer this question with uh, an, a historical anecdote that the mus–that the jazz musician Miles Davis, you know, back when he was doing his thing and he went to France, and he sat at a table with, you know, the, the philosopher and writer Jean-Paul Sartre. There was this, I believe that Jean-Paul Sartre had made a comment, um, you know, to Miles Davis in admiration of him, and Miles Davis was going like, you know–I don’t quite know if you know, he was a big reader himself, but he was kind of astounded that this academic writer, French philosopher, was in awe of him, and and I think it was, Sartre essentially said–or how do you–Sar-Tray–

Carrie: I don’t know! I…  I…

Alex: Call it Sar-Ter–

Carrie: I call it Sar-Truh with the, with, you know, the French “uh” at the end. 

Alex: Okay… okay. 

Carrie: Okay, you know…Thea… Thea-Truh?

Alex: There you go! Um, that he had told Miles Davis, you know, music is sort of the, the, the primary artistic muse. Or it’s like the, it’s, it’s the main one. It’s, it’s the, it’s the, the artistic language through which everything else flows. And wow, like, when that, when I just heard that anecdotally, it kind of made a lot of sense. It put for me, it explained a lot of–It felt to me that music is a natural muse, you know. We hear it all–at least in my family, there are musicians, you know. My, my, my aunt who passed away last summer, you know, she was a drummer. My little brother was a drummer in high school. I–I played in band. I played the trombone in high school–

Carrie: [Interrupting] You played the trombone? 

Alex: … played the tromb…Well yeah, from middle school all the way till the end of high school. 

Carrie: I would have never guessed you for a trombone player!

Alex: Really?

Carrie: Yeah, I’m kind of flabbergasted a bit right now. 

Alex: Most people–When I say that, most people say, “Oh. I could see that.” [Laughs.]

Carrie: Yeah, no, I don’t see that! You know I was in band, right? 

Alex: What did you play? 

Carrie: I played the flute. 

Alex: Oh, okay!

Carrie: I was drum major. 

Alex: Wow. 

Carrie: Yeah, I even played semi-professionally for a year. 

Alex: Wow, I didn’t know that!

Carrie: Yeah, I almost majored in music, uh, but then I switched back to English and Lit and became a teacher instead. 

[Chuckles.]

Alex: There you go. Yeah. No, that’s interesting. Well, and, and that’s that, you know, well. You would understand that, then, the, the draw of music, to write about it naturally. You know, a lot of people listen to music. When I was first writing creatively on short stories, I often would listen to certain songs that would put me in a writing mood. And then I kind of came to, you know, when I–When I read my stuff out loud, now I search for a rhythm. So I feel like language is inherently musical. And, uh, you know, I always think that the best–even though my two–I have two poetry books out in the world–the best compliment for my stories is, you know, “hey, that’s a poetic story.” So, in a way, stories being referred to as poetry is sort of like the supreme compliment. And so to me, it all just kind of makes sense how, like, a person, like, you know, John Coltrane appears in my poems, OutKast appears. Uh, I’ve written a poem to Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, and also to Alicia Keys. 

Carrie: Yes! Yes… 

Alex: …And, so, yeah…

Carrie: And I think in the poem you just like the starting something that michael jackson is in that one 

Alex: And yet him being a pop singer he sort of transcended like, you know, he way transcended like anyone in the hip-hop realm whatever and you know call him the king of pop and in a weird way like in my poems, i feel like michael jackson, while he’s a charged name, he represents this this certain feeling that i go after when i write about musicians of my own at least early ambivalence or early shame and aspects of my culture and so it’s it’s very strange when i frame it that way yeah so also inspiring 

Carrie: Yeah,  I think so, too. So I’m really interested in that because, like, we’ve talked a lot um about many things and 

Carrie: And I remember a conversation that we had a couple of months ago. I guess it would be now about, um, culture, and you know, who has the right to speak and all of that stuff. And, um, we were chatting briefly about this new, I guess you’d call it Hispanic sonnet. Um, is that one of the ways that you’re dealing with, like, this experience or this shame you have of being Hispanic? 

Alex: Two books — I can… I can say two books later — yes. It’s more direct, but, um, you know, Hispanic sonnet. So this is super hot off the press, uh, you know– 

[Laughter]

Carrie: Hold the phone!

Alex: Okay, yeah, yeah…“Stop the press!” Um, so about two, you know. Back in July, my second collection, Dreamt: or the Lingering Phantoms of Equinox, was published. It published on July 4th, so it’s like, middle of the pandemic. Really hard time. 

Carrie: Wow… 

Alex: But I still wanted to put it out there because the very last poem in there, um, is a Trump poem. 

Carrie: Yes! 

Alex: It’s a, it’s a blackout or a–

[Excitedly interrupting]

Carrie: “Whistling Dixie on Trump Tower at…”

Alex: [finishing the thought] “…one fine January morning.”

Carrie: That’s it, yes! 

Alex: Yeah!

Carrie: I got half of it! 

Alex: No…yeah!

[Both laughing.]

Alex: Yeah, which is–I took his inauguration speech in 2017 and deleted select words, didn’t rearrange anything, and illuminated what’s there. And so it turned out, you know, I’m happy to report now that that poem has officially been defanged a little bit, with recent news of our new president-elect. But that was sort of July. It was still just–I had to have this. I mean, the book came out for me at the perfect time, and so I wanted to take a lot of time off. 

So, for months didn’t write any new poems, was working on the Larry Rios novel, getting–getting a lot of steam on there–and then about two and a half weeks ago, something happened. Something strange happened. And I wrote one poem. Then another. And another. And then about–you know, very recently I, uh, I just said, you know, let me just try a new form, you know. Sonnets. You know, English–I’ve written an Italian sonnet before, which is very difficult. There’s one in Warbles that’s an Italian sonnet. Um, I think I’ve tried my hand at an English sonnet or a Shakespearean sonnet, and there’s a certain rhyme scheme that you have to follow. And I–and I thought, you know, let me just call this–I’ve also, you know, Terrance Hayes, his last book, he’s one–he’s probably might be my favorite poet writing right now. Um, his last book, um, was–is a collection of what he called American sonnets, uh, which he wrote in the first 200 days of the Trump presidency. 

And so American sonnets he took from the tradition of another poet, um, I can’t remember her name right now, but she would write these 14-line poems…but with no rules. And she’s just called them American sonnets. You know, because what’s more American than breaking the rules? The rules don’t apply to you. 

Carrie: I feel like I know who this is…

Alex: Yeah, I think I want to say her name was, was Linda Hull, that he, he took what she would do, like, occasionally write these, um, what she called American sonnets. And then he played off–he riffed off that and ripped–you know. Because what you do is you, you take what’s, something you really like and you can make it your own. And so of course what did I, you know, I read Terrance’s–Terrance Hayes’ book and, completely amazed by that collection, and I’ve written in Dreamt–I had one American sonnet that’s 14 lines.  

Carrie: Do you? Which one?

Alex: I… It’s called “American sonnet: or lunchtime romance.”

Carrie: Oh…Okay, I think I–yeah, okay!

Alex: And that poem actually has uh, a heart kind of emoji, so that’s like one of my, the–

Carrie: Yes…Yeah, I remember reading that one. And I was like, what is this? I was like, I don’t know if this is for me, but okay. I’m gonna have to go back and look at it again! 

Alex: Yeah, and it’s a little bit stream of consciousness and, and it follows a theme from a poem in Warbles. So anyways, uh, I…So very recently, you know, the American sonnet, you know–14 lines, no rules–I thought, let me try something called the Hispanic sonnet, where it’s 14 lines plus one separated line at the end for a grand total of 15 lines. And still the one kind of tradition that I want to keep following is the 15th line, the separated line, is still the volta, or in sonnets the “turn.” You know, where you start is not where you end. 

And so I still try to follow that, but I’m finding these very liberating. Um, I’m going back to a lot of the cultural identity themes and even more religious territory that I explored in Warbles, and uh, yeah. Like um, I’m writing these like crazy. And why 15 lines? Well, I read this old collection from a South Texas poet legend named Reyes Cardénas. Um, and I actually have a poem dedicated to him in Warbles. Um. And uh, well, I read this old uh, book of his called Survival’s…  Survivors of the Chicano Titanic, that he published back in, you know… 

Carrie: That’s a compelling title. 

Alex: Oh yeah. Back in the early 80s. And I’m happy to say, you know, we–we’re Facebook friends, and I recently messaged him, saying, “Look, sir. I read–I just read this,” and he said, “I haven’t seen a copy of that in 25 years!” And I’m just very honored to even just have–to have him as a Facebook friend. But um, you know. Reading that there–there’s a foreword in that book, but it was a professor at UT Austin named Juan…Oh I want to say Juan Rodriguez? I apologize if I get the name wrong–But he wrote a foreword kind of about the history of Chicano poetry, and there’s a line in there that says, Chicano poetry has always found itself kind of in the–in a place of opposition to power structures, hierarchies. And for me, language. And I thought, “Ah, let me call these Hispanic sonnets, and they will be almost sonnets and they’ll break the rules at the end,” so. 

Carrie: Nice! That sounds really fun. And you said that you’re really close to having a collection of these? 

Alex: You know, it’s developed super fast. I didn’t–I didn’t necessarily want this. I was happy with my my two books out there, but these are–these are developing. And yes, I’m–I’m going to–. My plan right now is to call the collection Hispanic Sonnets

Carrie: Very nice. I do remember…I do remember talking to you over the summer, and you’re like, “Okay, Dreamt is published. I’m done with poetry for a while.” But obviously that was a lie!

Alex: Carrie, I said that up until like, a few weeks ago, so you’re–you’re right. You got me. 

Carrie: I mean–but when the inspiration strikes, you gotta go with it, right? 

Alex: That’s been it. And a few people have said that. And that’s just helping me. I’m thankful for the assist from the poetry gods for this, right now, yeah. And uh, I’m–I–. Like I said, I’m finding writing these liberating. 

Carrie: Well, that’s really great. Um, yeah. We actually–so, um. I’m taking a class with um, Dr. Cantú-Sanchez, teaching multi-ethnic literature, and we just finished reading bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress. And one of her tenets is, is that like, like, education and like–and by that extension, like writing and language, should be liberatory. So you are embracing bell hooks, my friend, and you probably didn’t even know it. 

Alex: Oh, I–Thank you. No, I do want to add, you know, and no–. Thanks for saying that! And uh, while I am sort of, you know–Again, I–I don’t know, I can’t say that with certainty that I’m the first one to do a 15-line sonnet. It’s technically not a sonnet! But I thought, “Well, I’m going to call it a Hispanic sonnet, so it’ll be 14 lines plus a separated line at the end, which also kind of symbolically represents we’re with you, and then we’re not that opposition the, the chasm, the gap. And so, um, I do want to add that in addition to me writing these Hispanic sonnets, I’ve also been challenging myself to write in other, uh, forms as well that I’m throwing in this collection. So a few I have, a few, uh, what are called pantoums, but they’re three quatrains with a certain rhyme structure. And those are challenging, but those have been fun. I discovered this new, um, I think it’s a six-line Spanish poem called the shadorma… 

Carrie: Interesting!

Alex: …And it’s a, it’s a syllabic poem, so it goes, I think…I think it’s a three-five-three, three-seven-five syllables.

Carrie: Yeah okay, that’s like… 

Alex: …The Spanish haiku, but it’s not a haiku. Um, and so I’m, I’m trying–. So you know, I’m breaking rules here with one form, but I’m also trying my hand at others. And I was–I always–. I would encourage anyone who’s writing poetry to embrace free verse, embrace the, the creative bursts you get that don’t want to stay in the lines, but also try to try out forms that are out there.  

Carrie: Yeah! Any villanelles planned?

Alex: Ah, I almost started one, and then I just–I didn’t have it in me. 

Carrie: Yeah…  I…  I…  You know what, I don’t have villanelles in me, either. I have tried to write a villanelle and it is… I mean… 

Alex: I mean, try it. Try a Hispanic sonnet. 

Carrie: I will. You said three-five-three, five-seven-five?

Alex: Oh, well, the the Hispanic s–

Carrie: Hispanic…! Oh, gosh no, I thought you were talking about the haiku! [Embarrassed.]

Alex: Shadorma…

Carrie: Shadorma…Okay, okay. I feel real dumb right now. No, no, I…You know, um, I’m actually just wrapping up teaching sonnets, because leading into Hamlet with my students, and so I think it would be fun to work with this. I’m going to do Hispanic sonnets. I’m going to write one and send it to you. 

Alex: Oh, I’d be happy to read it! 

Carrie: Yeah. I–. Unfortunately, you know, grading and all of that doesn’t give me much time to write lately, but I’m hoping over the upcoming breaks I’ll be able to do that. But um. Um, yeah. So okay. So, you–you talked about Terrance Hayes inspiring you with his American sonnets. Are there, like, any like, non-poetry books you’re reading right now that you’re finding, like, just–you can’t put it down?

Alex: Gosh, let me check! Give me one second because I will use the powers of technology to log into my Goodreads. I’m on Goodreads and I use it frequently just to log books, and I can, um…

Carrie: Me too.

Alex: I will say–and I’m going to give credit where credit’s due–I recently finished a collection of poems called Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar. And he’s a renowned, celebrated poet. He’s about–he’s my age. I believe he’s 31, 32. And uh, he has two books out there. But I–I recently picked that up about a couple of weeks ago started reading it, and just hit–. That was just such a one of the most one of my favorite books I’ve read this year, collection–collection-wise. Um, he was born in Tehran, but moved to the United States, I think, when he was age two. So he’s been in the U.S. a long, you know, most of his life. And yeah, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, I recently put that down. And that really put me, to be honest, in the writing mood for what has become these Hispanic sonnets. 

Carrie: Nice.

Alex: And then kind of coupled with Survivors of the Chicano Titanic from Reyes Cardénas, you know, it kind of–I’m a big believer, you know, in that you–you have to research what you–If you’re a serious reader, you research what you read. But you know, you don’t always know, if you’re like me, and you read more than one book at a time what you pair with, you know. I have, sometimes, books that have no business being paired together… 

[Laughter.]

…But the the inspiration that comes out of that can just take me to a place that I would have never arrived at a certain conclusion had I not been reading, you know, you know…Stoner by John Williams, and then also a new book of poems, you know, Finna by Nate Marshall, which is like two different complete works. But I was reading those at the same time, and it was just taking my mind to, to beautiful places, you know? 

Carrie: Nice. I juggle a couple books at the same time, too.

Alex: Um, yeah. The last I would–I’m looking–. The last amazing novel I read was, was Stoner by John Williams. It was one I’d wanted to read for a few years. I finally, I actually acquired a first edition of it! 

Carrie: Fancy pants over here! 

Alex: Um, I know. I have a problem. A bit of a bibliophile. But I um, that’s okay! I, uh, I look at it as an investment. And I, and I read it, and it was just, ah…I totally recommend Stoner by John Williams. It’s a campus novel. Um, but the, this, you know. Sentence by sentence, it’s so clean and proficient and sad–it’s–. It’s sad, also, so…

Carrie: Yeah… Yeah…  I mean, I haven’t read Stoner, but the way you were describing it makes me think of when you recommended I read Cherry by Nico Walker–

Alex: Yes–

Carrie: —over the summer, yeah. 

Alex: Yes. Um, oh, that’s–yeah, I read that book–what is that, a year or two ago? I think they’re making it into a movie. 

Carrie: I think I saw that, too! Because when I was looking it up, it was like, trying to be like–. Okay, you know, like, I do take your word for books I need to read, but at the same time I’m like, I need to figure out what this book is about. Like, what am I getting myself into? That Alex is saying you need to read this book because I mean, some of the things you recommend are a bit out there sometimes! Uh, but I liked it. And they are making it into a movie. It has right, it’s already–. Its rights have already been bought. 

Alex: The, the, the guy who plays Spider-Man now, right, the, the actor–

Carrie: Tom Holland? 

Alex: Yes! 

Carrie: Yes! Yes, I think I saw his name in the billing to play the protagonist. 

Alex: There you go! Yeah. And that’s, you know, that book was, you know. Cherry was written by uh, was it Nico Walker? You know he, he wrote that book from prison. 

Carrie: He did.

Alex: He, he served in the, in, you know. He’s a, he’s, he’s our age, you know, and he, he served in, in Iraq or Afghanistan. And he, he came back and he–addicted to drugs–robbed banks. I mean, all messed up, suffered PTSD, and got put away. And then something happened in prison where he started writing chapters, which became Cherry, so it’s–. It’s a novel, but it’s very close to home, and that book would just–The–Yes, recommend it. It might be dark for, for some of y’all’s taste, but it is such a gut punch and it’s been called the first great war novel of this, you know…

Carrie: This century or this decade or whatever. This generation? One of those. 

Alex: Yeah… Yeah…  Millennials, you could say, maybe, the–yeah. Yeah, among the first, yeah. 

Carrie: And I would um, I think like, when I was looking it up and I was like, looking into who Nico Walker was and things like that, because you dropped a few things about like when he’d written this book, and I think he’s either–either recently or is coming up in this next year, um, parole. 

Alex: That’s–Yes! Yes, and I hope these, you know, I hope he’s getting better. 

Carrie: I do, too.  

Alex: And he’s such a talent–just from that one book and, and whatever he puts out next, I’ll be first in line. 

Carrie: I–Yeah, no. I’m, I’m all for it. In my mind, I was thinking as well, you know, because what I do over the summer as a teacher is I read things. And I’m like, what can I pull into my classroom to make things like, relevant and engage the students? And I was like, ooh, can I bring in something from Cherry? And I just don’t know if I can get away–

Alex: That’d be tough. That’d be– 

Carrie: That would be really tough. But there’s–. There are some beautiful like, heartbreakingly poignant like, lines and stuff that come out. 

Alex: The good thing about that novel is it’s written–. The chapters are fairly short–

Carrie: Mm-hmm. 

Alex: So I–You could probably, yeah. You could probably find some lines in there. 

Carrie: Um, yeah, selections, excerpts, things like that. 

Alex: Right! Other–another–. I’ll mention two others, you know. And uh, one I read recently, one of my–more a writer who’s become one of my favorites more recently as i’ve read more of his books–and he passed away two years ago, three years ago–named Dennis Johnson. He was a novelist, but also a poet. Um, gosh. He, he’s kind of a writer’s writer. A lot you’ll hear his name thrown out. He, he did win the National Book Award, maybe more than once. Um, but there was an early collection of poems he wrote that I read recently called the Incognito Lounge. Um, gosh, so good. So, so good. And every time I read Dennis Johnson I get into a writing mood. And then um, the other one, the other writer that just–I haven’t read anything recently, except, you know, I’ve read several of his stuff–big books–in the past, is Roberto Bolaño. 

Carrie: Oh yeah! I remember talking to you about Roberto Bolaño. 

Alex: And, you know, he, he passed away, I believe in 2003. But he was–also started as a poet and then became a short story writer and then a novelist later to support his family. But he’s originally from Chile, moved to Mexico, was part of this poetic revolution, you know. They would bust in on, you know, Octavio Paz speaking, so he was very, you know, counter-counter-cultural. And then he, you know, Bolaño essentially became, you know, in, in Latin America with like, revered like Octavio Paz. And it wasn’t until maybe 2010, 10 years ago, that the United States first started getting translations of his great novels. And now his reputation has been like, you know. And I’ve, you know, I hopped on a few years ago. And he, for him, you know–Bolaño can be the biggest freak in his writing, but he’s also a humongous uh, bibliophile as well. And so for someone like me, he made it okay to write about writing. 

Carrie: Nice!

Alex: Which is also kind of, you know, very postmodern. But um, so many references in his work to culture to musicians to other books to other…I think he even makes up people. He’ll throw a list of a hundred names and you–. There’s just no way, they’re obscure, you don’t know. And so you don’t know if he’s messing with you or not, but he really helped crack open a place in my head to say, oh, he creates this weird dark world, you know, that feels very Latin, but also very universal. And um. So he’s a huge inspiration. 

Carrie: Nice. I think you recently recommended a Bolaño book to me but I can’t remember the name of it at the moment. I’m gonna have to like, go back and look. 

Alex: The Savage Detectives? Um, 2666

Carrie: Well, I remember that. I remember 2666 because you were carrying that book around in our MoPoMo class, and it was like, boom. It was so big, and I was like, uh, what is that? 

Alex: Is this Bible stuff or something?

Carrie: A door stop or something?

[Laughter.]

Alex: Thanks for bringing that up! 

Carrie: Yes, you’re welcome. You’re welcome. Um, and I do remember you had like, a little show and tell in that class where you were like showing off this book. 

Alex: I know. I know. I’m not–I try not to be that guy, you know, but I like what I like, and yeah.

Carrie: There’s no shame. 

Alex:  I’m just in my, you know, now my 30s, it’s like, yeah, you know, yeah. I like reading books and I’m going to bring–I bring a book every time I go to the gym, you know. I always tell people like, oh, they–. People think I read really quickly. I’m a pretty slow reader. I would just say I’m disciplined. Like, I will go to the gym, work out, and then get on the treadmill, do, you know, run for 15 minutes, and then maybe speed walk for 15 to 20 minutes, and then just have my book. And it’s like, if you do that, that extra 20 minutes just, you know. And that’s how. I’ll bring it, even, you know, to when I go to Starbucks in the drive-thru. And you know, sometimes there’s a big line. I’m like, instead of getting on my phone, I’m reading. 

Carrie: Yeah, yeah, I do the same. Except I don’t always carry my book with me, so I use Kindle. Um, Kindle a lot, or Audible. I’ve gotten into audiobooks lately, so, see. 

Alex: I have, I–I think it’s so–. People have asked me like, what do I think. Um, I have not been able to get into that. I have all respect for people who do, but I have found that, um, you know. I feel like me reading physical copies of books, I do end up over time getting these, uh, you know, like, physical associations. So I’ll look at my, my, my read stacks, and I’ll, you know. I might not remember quite what the whole book was about if it’s been a few years, but I can just look at a book and I’ll recall like, oh, I was here when I read that. I’ll have a moment. And that’s what’s been really nice, is reading a lot of books over time, I have these physical associations, so. 

Carrie: Nice. Audible just helps me with my road rage, so that’s the only reason I listen to them instead of music. But um, all right. Well, we’re like, running down, um, here. I’ve had such a great time chatting with you. For those of us who would be interested in reading one of these collections that you have put together, either Warbles or Dreamt, where could we find those?

Alex: Um, well, they–. If you’re in San Antonio, they–. The, The Twig Bookshop carries some. Um, and you could go to the, my publisher’s website, Hekate Publishing, and you could find them there. If you–I believe there’s a tab that says Our Writers. You find my name, and there’s links to both books, which takes you to Amazon, so you could just go directly to Amazon, type my name, or Hekate Publishing, or the Twig Bookshop. 

Carrie: Gotcha! Awesome! Well, thank you so much, Alex! Again, really enjoyed having you on the Modcast today. Until next time, Lit Nerds. Ciao!


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