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.
DENNIS COOPER is an American novelist, poet, critic, editor, filmmaker and performance artist who currently spends his time between Los Angeles and Paris. He is known for the George Miles Cycle, a series of five semi-autobiographical novels (Closer, Frisk, Try, Guide, and Period) published between 1989 and 2000, and is the director (with Zac Farley) of Permanent Green Light and Like Cattle Towards Glow. I Wished (Soho Press, 2021) is his first novel in ten years.
In the Summer of 2020, I was hospitalized for almost a month and reached out via text to a limited number of writer-friends to let them know what was going on with me. Of that small number, Josh Russell has stayed in touch with me daily, in a manner that has improved my health, deepened our friendship, and, I hope, aided each other during a period in which there have been many days where both of us wondered if there was any reason to write fiction, particularly the kind of fiction each of us have chosen to pursue.
During that time, we’ve seen too how both of us, survivors of the eighties, midwesterners who’ve lived most of our adult lives in the south, married to southerners, who’ve navigated through a number of different universities—nine have seen fit to employ the two of us—have more in common than not. And I will say it unhesitatingly: I have no other correspondent whom I look forward to hearing from more.
TOBIAS CARROLL is the author of Political Sign (Bloomsbury, 2020), Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), and Reel (Rare Bird, 2016). He is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn, and writes Words Without Borders’ Watchlist column. His writing has been published by Tin House, Rolling Stone, Hazlitt, The Scofield, Bookforum, and more. He has taught writing courses for LitReactor and Catapult.
The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
DUVAY KNOX is an author of black pulp fiction, black exploitation, black folklore, and black erotica—“gritty shit that makes you wanna laff, cry, scream or make nasty love.” His books include Soul Collector: The Life of Death as Told by That Nigga Death (Creative Onion Press) and The Pussy Detective (forthcoming from Clash Books). He runs Black Pulp Fiction Press.
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.
LA writer Catie Disabato’s novels explore the complex terrain of millennial life with wit, candor, and high intelligence. Her latest, U Up?, out from Melville House, is about a woman named Eve who lives on the Eastside of Los Angeles, working online, hanging out in bars, drinking, fighting, searching for one friend while also grieving the loss of another. Eve also happens to be a psychic medium, and communicates with her dead friend via text message. The novel’s form is highly original, interspersing visual text messaging bubbles throughout the book.