Recent Work By Nathan Huffstutter

Little CatJesus, what have I got myself into? There was an immediate salacious thrill, sure, proposing to take on Tamara Faith Berger’s first two erotic novels, Lie With Me and The Way Of The Whore, recently coupled and reissued as Little Cat. But here in the put up or shut up, a dissonant panic pries the gap between want and fulfillment, want and the frank admission that if anyone wrote a better book in 2012 than Tamara Faith Berger’s Maidenhead I didn’t read it, want and the recognition that as scare-quote-reviewer I’m perpetually primed and flushed to shed light on a given object – though to objectify Little Cat, to suggest I’ve somehow gotten to the bottom of Lie With Me and The Way Of The Whore, to assume I’ve (if I may paraphrase Chris Kraus) solved the riddle by digging up the buried child, would be to announce that I haven’t understood a fucking thing.

James-Salter-All-That-Is-200x300Whether naturally born or G-force bred, fighter pilots embody a unique strain: their hell-bent defiance of physical laws kept in check by a meticulous respect for man-made machinery. After serving a dozen years in the Air Force – flying combat missions in the Korean War – James Salter applied that elevated mix of risk and control to definitive novels of erotic discovery and marital malaise. As the author now approaches ninety, his latest novel, All That Is, finds the former officer devoted to a trio of tasks: setting his affairs in order, offering loving remembrance, and demonstrating his intent to stand firm to the end.

Michael-David is an actor on the verge of an identity crisis. Too old for cool, not old enough for eminence. A Look Who’s Talking-era Travolta, staring down lean years clawing for scraps. Teetering on the B-List, Michael-David lucks into his own Pulp redemption: a starring role in the latest guerilla flick by unhinged auteur Chris Culpepper.

Something, however, is very wrong with this picture.

MASON

The prodigal son in O.H. Bennett’s third novel, Creatures Here Below, Mason is full grown, just this side of a man and no longer submitting to his mother’s swift backhand. Kills his nights at a small-time pool hall, throwing bones and trading blows with the sort of friends who double as enemies. Never knew his father, not until a juvenile who’s-your-Daddy-joke revealed the snickering punch line: Pops Pony Reed, a dick-swinging, whiskey-tongued Hoosier hustler. Dropped out of high school. No regular job. No money. No reason to believe any good can come of a bad hand. Until… his fingers find the feel of their first handgun.

“I would like you to write a simple story just once more,” says the father. “…Just recognizable people and then write down what happened to them next.”

The old man is eighty-six, bedridden – beseeching! – but the daughter of Grace Paley’s “A Conversation with My Father” cannot honor this last request, cannot plot an unswerving line or knot every narrative thread: Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.

For the sake of context, please allow me to introduce a few of the particularly hush-hush intrigues surrounding Steve Erickson’s back catalogue:

Originating from the point where the printed text begins to shape tunnels and T’s and question marks, torn out pages of Our Ecstatic Days (2005) can be arrayed in a Spira Mirabilis that produces an image of the Tiananmen Square protestor…

Editions of Tours Of The Black Clock (1989) printed after Y2K retain the characters and locales of the original, but subplots and chronologies have been so materially altered that readers from different millennia have, in fact, waded through entirely different texts…

The moment a body loses contact with the ground, moving into air, moving into water, it must immediately account for the paces and drags of that new medium. Pamela Ryder’s debut, Correction Of Drift (FC2, 2008), addressed this concept both literally and practically: structured as a “novel-in-stories,” the book triangulated on the Lindbergh kidnapping, borrowing navigational principles and a well-rutted American narrative to ground her challenging, lyric flights. Compiling fifteen stories that largely (or entirely) predate that first full-length, A Tendency To Be Gone presents an artist unmoored, ascending exultant heights while demonstrating the perils of dead reckoning, where a miscalculation multiplies upon itself and leads progress further and further off-course.