On Saturday evening I went to Stories bookshop in Echo Park to hear Duke Haney read from his recently published collection of blog-essays, Subversia, from The Nervous Breakdown. The gathering was high energy for a literary event and included readings by Lenore Zion and Veronica Gonzales. The independent bookstore has become a landmark in hip, small-press, literary L.A.
Book purchased, I got home to discover that Subversia is an excellent collection of autobiographical short pieces, original and often raw. I have read about half of them, which is enough to know that Haney is what you could call an authentically authentic voice -- he comes out of the mold of beat-punk Kerouac worship, which has inspired enough writing and music making that it should be considered genre, and judged by its own standards -- as opposed to whether you, personally, enjoyed On the Road (which I did not). But, if such a genre exists, then Haney rises above it easily. He is a near-master of the final sentence, the one that pulls it all together and adds a dimension to the whole piece (making me think of a comment Barry Hannah once made in a workshop I was in, something to the effect of, You read these stories, and they're going on and on, and then in the last sentence the writer pulls it all together and turns it into a story). He has been an actor, a screenwriter, novelist, resident of NYC in the bad old '80s (when yours truly lived there, but never knew him) and of Los Angeles since the '90s. He has many stories to tell, beginning with "I Was a Child Porn Model." What's more he used a blog format effectively to write literature.