Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Kyle Minor's "Praying Drunk"

Kyle Minor is the author of two collections of stories: In the Devil’s Territory (2008) and Praying Drunk (2014). He is the winner of the 2012 Iowa Review Prize for Short Fiction and the Tara M. Kroger Prize for Short Fiction, one of Random House’s Best New Voices of 2006, and a three-time honoree in the Atlantic Monthly contest. His work has appeared online at Esquire and Tin House, and in print in The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Best American Mystery Stories 2008, Twentysomething Essays by Twentysomething Writers, Forty Stories: New Voices from Harper Perennial, and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013.

Here Minor shares his suggestion for the director of an adaptation of Praying Drunk:
One of the conceits at the center of Praying Drunk is that the stories in it are written from a literally realized fundamentalist Christian heaven, which is a dreary place:
The streets are paved with gold and lined with jewels. The sky shines with emeralds, diamonds, and rubies. The buildings are constructed of edifices of greens and reds and the fiercest blue. Nobody needs to sleep or make money, so nobody has to work or make a home. Big G makes us crowns, but all we're supposed to do is throw them at His feet. All the songs are triumphant and resolve to a minor key. It's pretty boring after a while.

The only other thing for most people to do to pass an eternity's worth of time is to drink liquor, blow fire, and pray. The climate is milder than hell, but they get all the movies and the hard drugs. Maybe it would have been better if we all had ended up there. I once spent a century honing a seventy-ton rock into compliant and foldable pages. I bound them with iron. I've written 397 books so far, which is nothing compared to my friend Joyce. There's nothing new in terms of material, so those of us who write stories keep grinding on the same material, in new versions, from new points of view, in new genres, trying to figure out what all that was, back when there was something to risk, when life was for living. When I retold the story about the suicide the last time, I added a robot, but it was a mistake. It wasn't enough: That story needed seventy-three robots, twelve pirates, three Vikings, three zombies, seven murders in polygamist cults, two slow trains to Bangkok, three bejeweled elephants in the court of Catherine the Great, six scarlet-threaded elevators to space, fourteen backlit liquor bars in Amsterdam, five bearded men spinning plates on top of thirty-foot poles in Central Park, four mechanical rabbits, three alarm clocks, two magic tricks, twenty-four test tubes, the Brooklyn Bridge, the London Bridge, the boob doctor's daughter...
So there's really only one writer-director with whom to trust the material -- the stories-within-stories, the stories held up as mirrors one to another, the stories and their sequels, the stories turned inside-out and outside-in, the stories that want us all to live forever and the stories that say enough with the living forever -- and that's Charlie Kaufman, maker of true things, or maybe Charlie Kaufman in collaboration with Michel Gondry or Spike Jonze. It's true I spent ten years writing this book, and I did the best I could do, and I offer it in the hope that it will make the reader feel so much, with the promise that it cost me much more than time to get it on the page, but I have little doubt -- almost zero -- that if Charlie Kaufman made the movie version, it would be better than the book version, because everything Charlie Kaufman makes is better than everything every bookmaker makes, he's undone me so many times, I always come away astonished and surprised, how could I not believe he could do it?
Learn more about Kyle Minor and his work at his website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Kyle Minor.

--Marshal Zeringue