When I was a sophomore in college I read two books that made me want to live better: Derek Walcott’s The Star-Apple Kingdom and The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor. These authors knocked me out. The writing, idiosyncratic and rooted in the local, pushed to the edge of excess but was saved by craft. These were authors who kept going too far but refused to be satisfied with mere excess. Nowadays, refusal suggests denial and poverty and over-strict parents. But it also promises, by excluding the merely rich and by demanding hard choices, the kind of attention that allows one to open to new experience. Ever since I read those books, I think, I’ve searched for a way to write that pushes at the edges but doesn’t allow mystery and beauty to evaporate in my eagerness to know—to find the balance-point between Jupiter and Saturn, expansiveness and control, recklessness and prudence.
On January days in Los Angeles, where I live, the air can be so clear that it magnifies and defines every roof-line, palm frond, and mountain rim. The light, pure chardonnay, bathes the landscape in a warm wash that both cheers and terrifies. The incredible depth of visibility is possible because the air in L.A. is virtually motionless, devoid of eddies and mirages. (This phenomenon also accounts, at other times, for the persistence of smog.) I love how this stillness makes everything that happens in the city worth noticing, so that one must figure out what to pay attention to or go mad. I want to write like that someday.
I haven’t always lived in this place. I had a hard-working, unremarkable childhood in Iowa, an unremarkable place filled with hard-working people. I received my M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where I served as a Teaching-Writing Fellow, before plunging into the music business in Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles with my wife, the singer/songwriter Callie Cardamon (a.k.a. C.C. Grace). Those were difficult years of the sort detailed in movies and t.v. shows. When enough was enough, we went off-script and co-founded an educational program in south Los Angeles County for first-generation college-bound students. Eventually, I returned to graduate school, earning my Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, where I now teach.
My fiction and poetry have appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, Slate, Iowa Review, The Sun, Commonweal, Third Coast, Denver Quarterly, December, and River Styx. In a more academic vein, I have published extensively in the fields of sound studies, modern literature, and rhetoric. I’m the author of two poetry collections, The Hummingbird Hour (CW Books) and Expo (Finishing Line), as well as a rhetoric reader, American Subcultures (Bedford/St. Martin’s). When I’m not writing or producing music, I dedicate way too much time to Dodgers baseball and documentary photography.
Regal House Publishing is proud to publish Eric Rawson’s work of literary fiction, Banana Republic, in 2020.