Kevin Maloney is the Portland-based author of “Cult of Loretta,” and his new book “The Red-Headed Pilgrim” is out now on Two Dollar Radio. He spoke to Michael Schaub about the book, which he says is “really, half done.”
Q. Is there a book or books that you always recommend to other readers?
A book that I highly recommend, with a religious following of the type I am certainly a member of, is “Son of Jesus” by Denis Johnson. This year, I can’t stop recommending “Teenager” by Bud Smith, “Tell Me I’m Artist” by Chelsea Martin, and “Duplex” by Mike Nagel.
Q. What are you reading now?
I always find myself reading two or three books at once, usually two fiction and one non-fiction. Now is “The Year of the Buffalo” by Aaron Burch, Kevin Wilson’s “Now is Not the Time to Panic,” and “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler.
Q. Is there a book you dread reading?
Every time Scott McClanahan puts a new book out into the world, I’m both terrified and excited to read it. He’s so talented and I respect his writing so much that I’m worried he’s going to change the way I think about books and I’m going to have to go back to whatever work I’m working on and completely change it. For the same reasons, I dread reading books about mindfulness and Buddhism, because I know it’s going to kick my ass and I’ll end up turning away from bad reality TV for a while and trying to live by a more deliberate, thoughtful life.
Q. Do you have any favorite book covers?
I’m obsessed with the late 1960s/70s Richard Brautigan covers, featuring a black and white photo of Brautigan and one of his female friends or girlfriends. My personal favorite is the paper version of “In Watermelon Sugar” which shows Brautigan looking badass next to a woman in a floral dress. There is no title on the cover or the author’s name, just a quote from the book: “With melon sugar deeds were done and re-done as my life is done with melon sugar.”
Q. What books do you plan to read in the future?
Books I’m excited to read in the next few months are “Aesthetica” by Allie Rowbottom, “Bad Thoughts” by Nada Alic, “Earth Angel” by Madeline Cash, and “Dispatches From Puerto Nowhere” by Robert Lopez.
Q. What is a memorable book experience – good or bad – that you are willing to share?
There’s a scene in my book that’s taken directly from real life, where the protagonist is reading Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” while living in a tent sitting in a cow pasture in the hills behind a scenic Wild West trail. Helena, Montana. . There were cows standing around the tent chewing grass and mooing as I read, which I think Vonnegut would have appreciated. It’s probably still my favorite book.
Q. What is it about your book that no one knows?
There are Easter eggs in my book that old-timers in Portland will appreciate. The high school in the book is named after Tom Peterson, a Portland real estate salesman in the 1980s famous for his quirky TV commercials. This rival high school is named after Ramblin’ Rod, the host of a local TV show in the 1980s featuring Looney Tunes cartoons and a studio audience of children, where I was born as soon as I as a child when I was seven years old.
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What’s next for ‘Bookish’
The next free Bookish event will be our second annual Anniversary Celebration, SCNG’s salute to 10 Southern California authors whose books have made a mark. We look forward to hearing from our dignitaries as well as host Sandra Tsing Loh, my colleague Samantha Dunn on February 3 at 5pm.