Book Acquired Recently: Stephen Beachy’s Some Phantom/No Time Flat

Beachy, Stephen. Some Phantom/No Time Flat. 2006. Portland: Verse Chorus, 2013.

I received this diptych of novellas in the mail from amazon.com yesterday, and read Some Phantom immediately and No Time Flat this evening. Both are excellent; I read the first one (which I greatly enjoyed in part because it takes place in Salt Lake City) and thought “Wow, the second one can’t be as good,” but I was wrong.

Some Phantom is about a woman running from an abusive relationship who ends up in Salt Lake City, gets a job as a teacher’s aide, and becomes obsessed with one of her students. The city’s geography is an essential element of the story–sparse, dry, malevolent. It reminds me a lot of the austerity of Janet Kauffman’s writing, even though she virtually never writes about urban environments. Beachy does a fantastic job depicting the exciting seediness of the stretch of State Street between approximately 700 and 1900 South.

No Time Flat involves some of the searing themes from Beachy’s best novel, Boneyard: illicit gay sex, much of it involving bondage, and the thin line between pain as pleasure and pain as violence. It reads as serious fiction, but it arouses like the best pornography, too. The experience of reading it is still too fresh for me to be articulate about it other than to say that I highly recommend it.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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