In our afternoon reading: an interview with Idra Novey, free NYC museums, and more.
Duncan Birmingham writes fiction about people at their wit’s end. Some of them have seen relationships implode; others have begun to glean the true shape of the world around them. Birmingham’s characters make terrible decisions and are prone to excess; the stories in which they appear blend humor and dread in unexpected proportions. Birmingham’s collection The Cult In My Garage is an excellent distillation of his skills as a writer, offering a window into a simultaneously beguiling and terrifying vision of California. I spoke with him about the book’s origins, the role of the pandemic in its genesis, and its celebrity cameo.
DUNCAN BIRMINGHAM is a writer and filmmaker in Los Angeles. His fiction has most recently appeared in Mystery Tribune, Juked, 7×7 and Joyland. He’s been a writer and producer on numerous TV shows including Maron (with Marc Maron) on IFC and Blunt Talk (from Jonathan Ames) on Starz. His short films have premiered at Sundance, AFI, GenArt and New York Film Festival. He can be found procrastinating on Twitter at @duncanbirm. His first book of short stories, The Cult in My Garage, (Maudlin House) was published in August.
by Duncan Birmingham
I stop at a gas station market off the highway for Travis’s favorite chewing gum, jumbo coffeechinos and energy breakfast bars then gun my car across Delray Beach before the whip cream flattens.
The gate guard at Tranquility Bluffs has zero muscle tone and a man-bun. Past the gate it’s a pretty plush set-up; all manicured hillsides, wooden walkways and charming bungalows. I spot some decent talent milling about, gnawing their nails like they just quit smoking and meditating in little matching pajama pants in a semi-circle by a dinky waterfall. I wonder how many are secretly high.
Gordon’s Revenge by Duncan Birmingham The plan was to meet at a coffee shop on Miracle Mile. He arrived early and was surprised to find her already there and looking more or less like her photos. They exchanged an awkward smile and an even more awkward hug. Thank god she was the right height, more or less.