Kathryn Scanlan, “THE DOMINANT ANIMAL” w/ Brian Evenson

Posted in literature, skylight books, los angeles, book stores, books, fiction, Short Stories, novels by skylightbooks on May 4th, 2020

In The Dominant Animal, compression is key. Sentences have been relentlessly trimmed, tuned, and teased, rendering both their syntax and subjects wondrous and strange. A ferocious attention to rhythm and sound creates a thrum of excitability and distress. The nature of love is questioned at a golf course, a flower shop, an all-you-can-eat buffet. The clay head of a man is bought and displayed as a trophy. Interior life manifests on the physical plane, where characters—human and animal—eat and breathe, provoke and injure one another.

With exquisite control, Kathryn Scanlan moves from expansive moods and fine afternoons to unease and violence—and also from deliberate and generative ambiguity to shocking, revelatory exactitude. Disturbances accrue as the collection progresses. How often the conclusions open—rather than tie—up. How they twist alertly. No mercy, a character says—and these stories are merciless and strange and absolutely masterful.

Scanlan is in conversation with Brian Evensen, author of a dozen books of fiction, most recently the story collection Song for the Unraveling of the World (Coffee House Press, 2019).


Produced by Maddie Gobbo & Michael Kowaleski

Theme: "I Love All My Friends," a new, unreleased demo by Fragile Gang.

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