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.

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