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IF MY BOOK: Eric Shonkwiler

 

Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors shed light on their recently released books by comparing them to weird things. This week Eric Shonkwiler writes about his second book and first story collection, Moon Up, Past Full, just published by Alternating Current Press.

 

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If Moon Up, Past Full were a day, it would be June 7th, 1993. A hot day but still early summer, and the grass turning yellow and balding from the yard. The kids would be in front of the TV until the morning cartoons were off and Ricki Lake or some other talk show comes on, and then they would go outside, hit each other with sticks, pretend they were animals, pretend the garage was not so close you could hear.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a treat, it would be Fla-Vor-Ice, most of the color bled to the bottom of the tube.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a vacation, it would be lucky to be a trip to the reservoir, twenty miles away. The sand as near to dirt as sand can be, dusty, heavy-grained, impossible for sculpting. The kids would build moats, mounds for castles. The water when it came in would look like chocolate milk, with a scum of foam. Buoys clambered on by children, boats past that. The only waves to speak of are wake. Smell of sunscreen. Wish for beer. Pierce chases the seagulls.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a sandwich, it would be Oscar Mayer bologna, with mayo. Cheese: only if you’re lucky.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a stare, it would be slapped. You don’t point at people. It’s rude. And still the man cups his elbow, the creases of flesh like the underside of a starfish.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a check, it would be post-dated. It would come with a note that says, “Please.”

If Moon Up, Past Full were a marriage, it would be estranged.

If Moon Up, Past Full were an answering machine, you would not want to check it.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a reverie, it would end here. Pierce kicked a rock and his toe looks horrid, red, bleeding, the nail broken. You gather the kids, shake out the towels.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a gas tank, it would be nearly empty.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a garden implement, it would be a sprinkler. The kids cavorting, jumping over the slowly rolling tube. Tyler covers half of the holes, makes the others scream at him. He picks up the sprinkler and chases them. You holler for him to quit it, but you’re smiling a little.

If Moon Up, Past Full were macaroni and cheese, it would be the kind with powder, the kind you serve with small, frozen florets of broccoli.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a time of day, it would be evening. The kids exhausted, sunburned. Piled on the couch. Mallory asks for a dog.

If Moon Up, Past Full were a dog, it would have a small flare of white on its forehead. It would be called “Star” instead.

If Moon Up, Past Full were an answer, it would be: “Maybe someday. Maybe soon.”

 
 
 


Eric Shonkwiler has had writing appear in Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, and elsewhere. He was born and raised in Ohio, received his MFA from University of California-Riverside as a Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellow, was recently selected as a New River Gorge Winter Writer-in-Residence in West Virginia, and has lived and worked in every contiguous U.S. time zone. His debut novel, Above All Men (MG Press, 2014), won the Coil Book Award for Best Book in the Independent Press and was chosen as a Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association. Find him at ericshonkwiler.com and on Twitter at @eshonkwiler.