IF MY BOOK: River Weather, Cameron MacKenzie

Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors compare their recently released books to weird things. This week Cameron MacKenzie writes about his new story collection, River Weather, out now from Alternating Current Press.

River Weather

If River Weather were food it would be the pork tenderloin with the honey-garlic sauce that I made for you last night.

No, better: it would be the look on your face when you bit into the charred butt of the loin that said even though neither of us knew how long this would last or even what it was that we could brush all that bullshit aside for just one more night like an arm across a table.

If River Weather were an album it would be Loveless

If River Weather were a book it would be the books I wanted it to be by writers who are better than I am, like Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson, where the first story ends with the narrator sitting in an emergency room listening to a woman scream and he says to the reader, “you ridiculous people, you expect me to help you.”

If River Weather were a line in a book it would be two pages into The Known World when Edward P. Jones in all his outrageous balls has God come down from heaven and speak for just one second, and He says, “Not a wife, but a widow.”

If River Weather were a poem it would be “Scheherazade” by Richard Siken, which I read at a wedding of two people who are miraculously still together given the tone of that piece and the towering stupidity of me choosing to read it at a wedding.

If River Weather were a line out of that poem it would be “the horses running until they forgot that they were horses,” which is some sort of religious maxim I think and once you write something like that I don’t know why you would sit down to write anything else ever again.

I’m trying to think of a line out of my book that is even in that ballpark and I’m still thinking.

If River Weather were a football coach it would want to be Barry Swizter at University of Oklahoma in 1987, but in truth it would be something closer to Buddy Ryan coaching either the Eagles in 90 or the Cardinals in 94. It’s close.

If River Weather were a movie it would be Lars and the Real Girl.

If River Weather were a split second from Streetcar Named Desire it would be when Brando walks past Vivien Leigh after having just put on a fresh t-shirt and he scratches his rib.

If River Weather were a tattoo on your body it would be the one with the heavy black lines across your ribs that you said made you cry and I barely even noticed it until this morning when it suddenly became some sort of living animal on your side that was moving there with us and I could almost see it and almost see it and then you told me it was a butterfly. And it was.

CAMERON MACKENZIE’s work has appeared in Salmagundi, The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, and CutBank, among other places. His novel, The Beginning of His Excellent and Eventful Career, was called “poignant, brutal, and beau-tiful” by Kirkus Reviews, and “visionary” by Rain TaxiRiver Weather is his first collection of short stories. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia.

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