The Rope Swing

Great Interview with Author Jonathan Corcoran

corcoran_jonathanThe town I grew up in was a little pinpoint of civilization surrounded on all sides by mountains and miles of forests… I know my stories wouldn’t be as successful without the looming mountains or the swiftly flowing rivers.

Hear, hear! This sentiment is one of many that drew me to the multi-talented and quite charming author (and Brooklynite) Jonathan Corcoran, whose debut collection of linked stories, The Rope Swing, explores the unique setting of economically-isolated Appalachia and the complex people who inhabit its “looming” mountainsides and riverbanks.

Are you surprised, precious reader, at my natural affinity for the natural world? There’s nothing unnatural about it. I’m a woodland denizen, by Zeus’ sandal straps! A so-called “sasquatch,” although I prefer sans-quatch; it sounds more literary. My given name is Chester, but I tell the voters to call me Chet.

Msr. Corcoran asserts, during the course of an energetic interview at The Rumpus, that “This book, as a project, was certainly a meditation on the notion of cusps and cliffs.” Cliffs! I swoon! You had me at “looming mountainsides,” dear sir! Corcoran goes on to say:

In the stories that focus on queer life and love specifically, I wanted to show readers how these tiniest of decisions, or moments of indecision, have the potential to impact a body for a lifetime, and how these very personal decisions are often forced upon people under the heavy weight of an often-hostile external world.

A weighty topic, to be sure, and one that this author discusses at great length and with such attractive perspicacity, thanks to his interviewess, the talented poet and essayist, Mlle. Melissa Adamo. Read her poetry here and follow her tweetings at @mel_adamo.

Hats off to The Rumpus for finding these two lovely creatures. I hope to see much, much more from them in the future.

Purchase The Rope Swing from Amazon immediately, humans, if you value your reputations.

Jonathan Corcoran’s “The Rope Swing”

This week, I was treated to a wonderful reading by the charming and talented up-and-coming writer, Jonathan Corcoran, whose gripping story collection, The Rope Swing, came out this Spring via Vandalia Press, an imprint of West Virginia University. Corcoran was interviewed at Greenlight Bookstore (@Greenlightbkln) in Brooklyn by another highly-praised Southern writer of note, the effervescent Tayari Jones, author of the lauded novel, Silver Sparrow.

The Rope Swing is a burnished collection of interlinked tales about the experience of growing up as a gayIMG_2269 man in the Southern Appalachias, a particular experience in a “particular time and place,” as Corcoran put it. He went on: “Imagine a time when there was no internet. How do you learn about being gay without the internet? Gay people don’t often have gay parents, so… The world is changing.” The author’s portrayal of this oft-ignored side of West Virginia is complex and full of pathos. I’ve rarely read such a three-dimensional exploration of time, place, and identity.

I must say, dear readers, this could be my favorite new book of modern times. Nay, not-so-modern times! And I’ve been around for a while, if you consider 694 years a long time. A gaggle of notable writers seem to agree with me, including Mlle. Jones and Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Black Tickets and a veritable leviathan of Southern literary capital herself.

It was a true pleasure to hear a conversation between such gifted and intelligent literary figures, a few of the most important of the day. On the topic of LGBTQ discrimination and the fact that society is finally bending towards greater empathy and understanding, Corcoran looked back at the process of writing and of his humble origins: “I came out all right. I came out okay. There’s just as much joy as there is sadness [in this book] .”

Jonathan Corcoran will be reading from his collection tonight, at the Astoria Bookshop in New York City for the Boundless Tales series. Go ahead and purchase it – now! – online from WVU Press. His book tour continues, so peruse the schedule now and see this fantastic writer yourself.