22 February 2005

Lost and Found: Rob McCleary

Sometimes writers seem to disappear.

Doug Lain loved the story "Nixon in Space" by Rob McCleary, originally published in the mid-1990s in Crank! and reprinted in The Best of Crank! (you can still get copies of Crank! via Small Beer Press, by the way). Doug loved the story so much that he wrote about it at his LiveJournal site, where, after discussing the story, he wrote,
Looking on google I can't find any link to other Rob McCleary stories or books. But they surely must be out there somewhere. It can't be that McCleary published this and then never wrote, or got published, again. After all, "Nixon in Space" appeared in "The Best of Crank" and inspired me to make a collage tape of Nixon's resignation, his conversation with Kruschev, and Kennedy's speech about the moon. These voices combined with Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite played on my realistic tape machine throughout the late 90s.

If anybody knows the titles to McCleary's novels or where I can get his collected works please let me know.
The internet is a marvelous gadget, and after Doug made this query, lo and behold, not only did some people help discover more info about McCleary, but Rob McCleary himself offered an update on his life since "Nixon in Space".

It makes for sobering, somewhat sad reading:
So now I'm back where I started when Bryan published Nixon In Space: broke, but writing what I want.

I'm working on a kid's book up here, which I really like. I've made some forays into writing adult fiction, but the thought of working for a year on something else just to see it dissapear into a void of disinterest really doesn't do much for me, so I think I'll stick with the kids stuff.
May I be so bold as to suggest that some of our more intrepid editors ask this man for a new story? Please? Else he's just going to spend the rest of his life trying to write Goodnight Moon, I'm Not a Crook. (Which I, for one, would be thrilled to read.)

By the way, Doug makes some great points about fiction when discussing "Nixon in Space":
What seemed to be difficult for some to understand was that the author didn't want you to believe the story he was telling. You weren't supposed to suspend disbelief. The disbelief you felt was supposed to sink into your gut, get into your blood, and make you sick.

The description of the history of the space program wasn't stupid, or altered, but despairing. The narrator was overwhelmed by the last century. Here's the logic of the story.

It was impossible that World War II or the space race could have taken place in a sane and rational universe. Given that both World War II and the space race did actually happen it follows that the universe is neither sane nor rational. If the universe is not sane then rational texts can't describe it.
We need more writers like Rob McCleary, we need places for them to publish, and we need readers who can appreciate what they're up to. (Yes, I know, we need world peace and eternal happiness and general enlightenment, too.)

What other writers, I wonder, have fallen through the cracks?

1 comment:

  1. I was hooked by "Nixon in Space" too and reviewed it for my MFA writing class. Rob is a great author and I agree that I'd love to see an editor pick him up as a regular! He's awesome, too because he responded to my questions about his writing, too!!

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