Episode 65 — Matt Bell


Matt Bell is the guest.  He’s the author of several chapbooks, a fiction collection called How They Were Found, and his most recent book is a novella called Cataclysm Baby, now available from Mud Luscious Press.

Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!, raves:

In extraordinary language, with deep feeling, Matt Bell has crafted a baby name book for the apocalypse, a gorgeous, brilliant, often darkly hilarious and always moving novella. Written with an ingenuity and joy that call to mind Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, each chapter is a treasure: Here are beast of burden children, larval girls, subterranean daughters and choirs of sirens, combustible baby boys. I loved this book and want to recommend it to every human parent and child I know; if trees, rocks, and stars were literate, I would recommend it to them, too. ‘Where do babies come from?’ children ask their parents, and Cataclysm Baby has an alphabet of answers as beautiful and mysterious as that ancient question, while always posing its haunting corollary: ‘Where do they go?

Topics of conversation include: dissertating, Michigan, kids, parenthood, the Great White North, Canada, family, boredom, storytelling, Lord of the Rings, Bill Murray, repetition, Meatballs, Denis Johnson, Jesus’ Son, Louis Ferdinand Celine, groupthink, individualism, time, isolation, travel, Jim Morrison, An American Prayer, bad poetry, midlife crises, exercise, real experience vs. mediated experience, empathy, pregnancy fears, Dzanc, The Collagist, violence, The Man with Two Brains, nudity, Stephen King, The Shining, adolescence, writing rituals, stamina, self-doubt, long periods of uncertainty, validation, learning from the slush pile, and genre vs. literary.

Monologue topics:  dinner with a friend, leaving the car running, The TNB Literary Experience, and an excerpt from my novel-in-progress.