Waco, Texas, is not exactly New York City when it comes to being a hotbed of publishing and/or writing, but one of the local literary figures we can boast having among us is Matt Cardin, a writer, college teacher, and musician. With a master’s degree in religion and a lifetime of experiential involvement in the study of world religion and philosophy, he writes frequently about the mutual implications of religion, spirituality, and horror. He is the author of Divinations of the Deep (2002), a collection of short stories, and Dark Awakenings (2010), a collection of fiction and academic essays. The former launched the New Century Macabre line of contemporary literary horror fiction for Ash-Tree Press. The latter, just published in May by Mythos Books, received strong advance praise from major industry figures. More information can be found both at the Matt Cardin website and his blog The Teeming Brain. Recently, he graciously agreed to discuss his reading and writing background as well as his publishing experiences.
Archive for the novels Category
When I was growing up I spent every other Christmas and a couple of weeks each summer at my paternal grandparents’ farm in northern Arkansas. There was a series of things I’d always do every time I was there: have endless adventures in the big red barn my great-grandfather had built shortly after the turn of the century, construct buildings with the set of original Lincoln Logs kept in an old cardboard box at the back of the living room closet, and read the same paperbacks kicking around in that same closet like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, The Hobbit, anything by Wilbur Smith or even the ancient World Book Encyclopedia that was perpetually bowing the bottom shelf almost to the point of collapse.
But, hands down, the book I always looked forward to rereading every time I was there was a thirty-five cent Dell paperback anthology from 1954 edited by Groff Conklin: Six Great Short Novels of Science Fiction.
There’s an interesting piece, “Fresh Hell” by Laura Miller, in the current New Yorker that examines the increasing appeal of dystopian novels and stories to the young adult (YA) demographic. As she sees it, there are a couple of fundamental differences between adult vs. YA dystopian novels: the former posit futures that might come to pass (1984) while the latter are metaphors for the world in which teenagers find themselves today (The Hunger Games); for adults the ending is inevitably pessimistic (and are usually stand-alone titles) while for younger readers it is either openly upbeat—or as much as a dystopian story can be “upbeat”—or decidedly ambiguous to drive its readers to the next book in the series.
So, after the movie adaption of Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country For Old Men, the latest big screen version of one of his books looks to be The Road. As much as I am a fan of McCarthy, having started reading his novels about ten years ago in grad school and at one point doing a big bibliography project of all the critical research about him, I wasn’t really a fan of The Road or No Country For Old Men. NCFOM struck me—as I recall some book reviewers at the time felt the same way—more as a screenplay in waiting as opposed to an actual novel. In that sense, I believe the Coen brothers film was one of those rare cases where the movie was better than the novel. But, The Road was even harder for me to make it through and, with its just bizarrely sentimental/unbelievable ending, didn’t hang together for me at all. All the scenes in it—finding the fallout shelter, raiding the shipwreck offshore—seemed to indicate some sort of complex allegorical worldview that was better suited for people still in grad school to puzzle over as opposed to the general public.