Chicago is full of small and large literary delights, and on the eve of the AWP conference in our fair city, I thought it would be good to introduce you to a guy who had a hand in starting one of the truly great reading series held here, Come Home Chicago. Matt Martin is currently a candidate for the MFA in Creative Writing-Fiction at Columbia College Chicago who is also working a full-time job, and yet he feels compelled to make the time to help produce a highly entertaining and exceptional quality lit show; last month’s guests included Stuart Dybek, Rick Kogan, Christine Sneed, Don De Grazia (co-founder of Come Home Chicago) and many others.
Oh yeah, and the guy writes, too. And this is where he does it, along with a little taste of his work.
Matt: I live alone in a one bedroom apartment in Andersonville, and since I don’t do a lot of entertaining, this dining room table has turned into a desk. I picked this space because of its excellent view of my neighbor’s blinds, those things need some dusting! I try to spend at least an hour here a day. The books in the middle separate the table in half, because of my book shelf being over crowded. Radioactive Homer sits across from me (his head is chopped off a bit), but if I ever get really stuck, I look to him, and he usually has some pretty pertinent advice! “All right Brain, you don’t like me, and I don’t like you. But let’s just do this, and I can get back to killing you with beer.”
I wrote a piece about my experience with gout at this space and do a lot of reading here as well. One of my favorite books that people might not be able to see from the photo is Live From New York—a history of Saturday Night Live—so many of my memories of childhood can be found in that book! Also if you look hard—in the middle there—an autographed copy of The Temple Of Air is chillin out!
An excerpt from work in progress
It’s complicated. It usually is. There are extenuating circumstances that come into play. You’ll have to trust me on that. This was something that external influences caused. I mean, I am partially to blame, don’t get me wrong. I am ready to take the brunt of the criticism. They say somewhere in a 12-step program that acceptance is one of the steps. I’m not sure which one, because the one time I went to a meeting I didn’t really pay attention. I did it for her. To get her off my back.
Now things were getting bad. It was getting out of control. Now I found myself here. In a ground floor room in the same Vegas hotel that O.J. Simpson got arrested in, the Palace Station. The same hotel/casino that offered “Las Vegas’ Largest All Drag Revue.” I tried to open my eyes. A sliver of light had somehow managed to creep through the middle of the crusty shades and land directly on my eye lids. I peeked one eye open. I nearly threw up.
I rolled over and slammed the pillow over my head. I felt something on my cheek. It was sharp. I didn’t really care to move, so I went back to sleep.
I dreamt of things. I dreamt of home. My grandmother. My childhood. I slid down reflective slides. I smiled. I ran around the bases as grown men played 16 in. softball on a diamond at Oriole Park. I ran through the grass and ran up to a hot dog stand and looked up and my uncle was wearing a white paper hat and spinning bright blue cotton candy.