I recently received a lovely thing in the mail—the first book from Cloud City Press. As the editorial director of Paper Darts I get to read a whole lot of work from young, up-and-coming writers. Generally, though pleasurable, this type of reading is not for pleasure; I’m reading it to decide whether or not it should be published with Paper Darts. It was nice, for a change, to sit back and read the early work of a writer just for kicks, and not have to make any decisions about it’s merit in terms of whether or not I believe it to be “ready” for publication, because the author made that decision already and published it himself. Boom.
Luke Marcott’s 60-or-so page story Filmpocalypse is a trip back to an age when self-destruction and world-destruction were not explicit cries for help, but rather a claim to personhood. Being old enough not to think about my self-destructive teenhood too often, but young enough to remember it as clearly as I want to, it was nice to climb into this story and really root around in that part of someone else’s life for 60-or-so pages.
The story, though not as fully formed as I would have liked (but, I guess that’s the point, right?), centers mainly on a character named Martin and his group of oddball coworkers, who are all “no-collar” employees at a near-dead video store called Filmpocalypse—a location based loosely on Franklin Avenue’s Filmzilla, which is why the store agreed to carry the book. Opening with a scene in a mental hospital that is never visited again and ending with coworker Ellen’s open letter to The New Yorker—“The other day [I] saw a Poetree/ I chopped that motherfucker down”—Filmpocalypse radiates the types of poetic “fuck yous” to society that all disaffected youngsters dream of some day delivering on a mass scale.
As a whole, the story offers just enough about the characters to keep readers interested, but keeps its distance so no one gets attached. Filmpocalypse is just vignette after vignette of smoke breaks, stark discussions about porn, sex, and violence, and references to cultural nodes that will be badges of misfit coolness forever. Though the on-point sections of dialogue got a little tiresome in their self-aware Kevin Smithness and the weirdo characters were a tad trite, Marcott made up for the dross with dark wisdom, one surprisingly satisfying question about the terminology for the daily travel of urban youth, and bits of truth about the world that we’re forced to forget as we get older in order to press on.
The next Cloud City Press book, Dragons Are Hung by Oliver St. John, will be released Friday, May 11 with an event at Common Good Books.