Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"ARK" by Jesse Miller

by Jesse Miller

ARK by Jesse Miller

ARK by Jesse Miller is currently on tour with Bewitching Book tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on Unwrap Your Candy.

Imagine the son of Cinderella and Noah. That's Alabaster Ash, professional window washer and amateur foot fetishist, thrall to his three physically fit, brutally aggressive stepsisters.
After polishing foot after foot of glass in the gingerbread city of Candyland and cleaning up after the “wicked stairmasters,” he haunts the bars and streets looking for love and appreciation -or a really nice pair of feet.
Like it or not, Alabaster finds himself reliving and reimagining his parents' lives as he roams from bar to bar, from thrill ride to stunt show in the linguistic funland that is ARK.

Ground squirmed past the windows, shuffling racks of bones and skulls under the soptoil as clouds crept along the horizon. On the bus, all the windows let in cold air and hung like a racked row of ice cubes in a tray, but I barely cracked the bottle.
Out I poured when the doors opened, unable to feel my legs, unable to see the ocean, but I could smell the salty marsh marching wet blue harridans, swiping and batting the spit, pushing the blood and saltboxing up fatjuices into my sinuses.
Jammed a kwata in the belly box and engaged the line.
–I’ve arrived. I’m here.
–That’s great. I bet a little walk will feel like a little slice of heaven, eh?
–I suppose.
–Well, I’ll leave the light on for you, Buddy.
I slid on my gloves and tried not to flinch at the sudden mustering of prickly discs skipping to my face. I leaned in hard and clacked through town, blackened and boarded and unblinking, barely wicklit. Smatter rooms to let. Ingrown hairs. Offseason. Unseasoned in the savorless in and out drag of the tonguetide. I dashed through a carless parking lot and into an astralamped glass meadow jotting down quivering blue starlight ink- puddles into suckshifts of snowhunchbanks humpbacking the outermost stretch of tideland. To the left, a skit of cloven unguals stirred it seemed, crunchy, but I only got half an ear worth and couldn’t noctoscop the goings-on of could be caribou or elk or deer bowing their head, bowing their head before the almighty peering down hard and in, like the retractable Polton and Crane lamp in the dentist’s office that hangs my mouth open.
Inside the blackness, the stickiting, ricketing pickets of thickets wiggle on their dicot studs without me seeing, while they shot out the other side and stitched a black curtain against the edge of the rest of the world. I clacked another mile stretch as brine wafers tickled my ears and swizzled my nos- trils while Lawrence Welk drift popping jollyjawdropping orbs uncorked across my field of vichy.
Estrella’s was a lighthouse, though not the vertical variety. But it glowed.
Light hung out over the glass and flabbed fat, hotwhite dough out the sides as I took up her street. This was another gingerbread house, hundreds of miles from home, though this one in earshot of the beach. I rang and rang and rang and then just opened the door.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“Miller’s prose is alliterative, acrobatic and revved up like a portmanteau-generation machine. It is a first-person account, unreliable and highly idiosyncratic, the stream of consciousness of a window-washer who addresses himself as Yours Drooling and the reader as a fellow Droolie. Those in love with language will drool, those looking for linearity of more staid prose should look elsewhere, like now. This is a travelogue of the imbiber whose journey is through the day that reeks and sluices with the past.” ~ Dr. Wm. Anthony Connolly, author of PKgrrl
“Viewing the world through Alabaster Ash's eyes is like entering a realm that is parallel to our own. There are hints of familiarity that seep through from time to time (The Red Sox), but the time on these pages is spent mostly in the foreign waters of the mind of Alabaster. It is quite the journey.” ~ Karissa
“It’s a book that always wakes your feelings, you can expect surprises with this book for that reason I recommend to you. It’s easy to read and you are always expecting more.” ~ Janeth
“There is no doubt the writer is a wordsmith of some skill, no doubt too, to be entertaining to those who enjoy writers who play with words on this way.” ~ Lynda Stevens

Guest Post by the Author
Writing ARK
Hello and bienvenue, my name is Jesse Miller and I am the author of two novels. Today I’d like to discuss my interest in two tales that have been cycling through my head since childhood - the Cinderella story, as well as the flood narrative of Noah’s ark - and how these two stories ultimately found their way aboard my novel ARK.
Some of what led me to this book is from my earlier life right out of grad school, trying to pay bills and figure out how a creative life fits with a professional life - this is, of course, the enduring struggle. I had a number of odd jobs, both over and under the table. One of those under gigs was as a kind of factotum in the resort town of Saratoga Springs. This became interesting because it allowed me access to a number of these massive, overelaborate Victorian mansions I’d never otherwise get inside. When I think back to that time now, I realize how valuable those experiences were to inform this book - I needed to inhabit those spaces, know those interiors, understand the way those houses felt from the inside. Fiction grows out of real places, and many of these real places helped me to make up the make-believe. And, too, psychologically and emotionally, I needed to be in some wealthy person’s home, and clean up after their young, wealthy college tenants to help me see how this book might work - there’s a kind of architecture to the psychology, I think. There’s a certain kind of darkness to the way we leave things behind for others to deal with, even if it’s their “job” to do so. What’s left behind and what’s collected became a big ponderable concept to chew on, and it fits in my mind with the deeper themes in the Noah narrative and the Cinderella story. To me, the psychology of the abandoner and the collector, that’s the invitation, at least intellectually, into the great boozy ball of the book.
Back then, I didn’t have beer money, but I had kind of fancypants and impractical writing degree, and it was really informative to see how people with power, money, and immense social capital interacted and viewed those without much of anything. As Charles Bukowski reminds us, the artist is always sitting on the doorsteps of the rich. I suppose he, Bukowski himself, was a bit of a lodestar for me as I was working on the book.
When I began working on my novel, I read an interesting book on Cinderella stories from different countries and cultures with widening and narrowing versions of what the happy ever afters might look like. In many of these Cinderella stories, I recognized that birds played such a critical role in transforming the Cinderella character. From there, I let myself drift on some things, and I thought about birds a lot, and birds in other stories. I remembered the Sunday school stories of my youth, and the end of the world, and the dove as the bearer of hope, but also as a kind of catalyzing event of rebirth. And then I thought about Noah and his ark, his big collection of everything. And that felt so very Joycean to me, the everythingness in the idea of the ark, and I’ve always been thinking of Joyce. James Joyce gets me really excited and sometimes I feel like my head is going to pop off.
From there I meditated on the central importance of Odysseus - a man of many turns - and how that played out for Joyce in the many dizzying turns of that novel. And there was my huckleberry: what if in my book there were TWO centrally important tales, these swirling dynamos baked in, these birds sweeping along the elliptical orbit of these two throbbing focal points, foci - Noah’s story and Cinderella’s story plaited and married - and the book started to evolve from there.
After a number of other jobs, I’d eventually find myself as a teacher of writing, which I think is my true self. You can check out some of the images of these obscenely big and beautiful homes in Saratoga Springs. Once a year I usually teach the short story “The Jockey” by Carson McCullers which takes place in Saratoga Springs. For my students, I put together a kind of gallery for them so they can get the look and the feel of Saratoga Springs as we discuss the story. It suppose it can work for my novel as well. Check it out here.
Anne Sexton’s Transformations was another work that led me to ARK. I’m thinking about how she was playing and rebroadcasting these stories, modernizing and bending these myths around. It’s incredibly seductive stuff, some of the same kind of seduction in Ulysses for me. And that got me thinking about some of my favorite films that have been updated or retold - in many cases the retelling of significantly older stories - in new and provocative ways. So then, what are some of your favorite films that retell or modernize an older story?

About the Author
Jesse Miller
Jesse Miller is the author of Unwrap Your Candy and ARK, both available from Common Deer Press. He is a Visiting Assistant Lecturer in English at the University of New England. He lives in the great city of Portland, Maine, with his wife, two cats, and dog. Jesse roots for the Red Sox.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five print copies of ARK by Jesse Miller.