May 7, 2009

Alt musicians move to prose in Amplified


Rhett Miller, who has a short story in Amplified

Rhett Miller, who has a short story in Amplified

On the LA Times‘ book blog, Jacket Copy, Carolyn Kellogg notes that, “Country musicians have always told great stories with their songs. Take the line “I shot a man in Reno / just to watch him die” — Johnny Cash sings it and keeps on moving in ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’ Who could do that? Why did he want to watch a man die? Imagine what dimensions that story might take in something longer than a radio-friendly three-minute song.”

Now, she says, in the new Melville House book Amplified, which is edited by Julie Schaper and Steve Horwitz, “a group of musicians have taken the notion and run with it — by writing stories that have been collected ino the new Melville House anthology, Amplified.

Kellogg discusses several of the book’s stories, such as one by Maria McKee that begins “I had a mystical experience with Johnny Cash‘s pants.” She also likes the one by Cam King — a story that’s “a lesson in avoiding armadillos,” and which says that “writing poetry generally takes a couple more beers than prose.”

Says Kellogg, “How many beers it takes to get from a song to a story, however, remains a mystery.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.