Literally Reruns – The Last Time I Saw Grampaw by Matthew Lyons

Leila admits that she found this piece a bit ‘gross’ but that it was also amusing and that made it worth a second look – have a read and see what you think:

I do not recommend “looking up” to those who’d venture out into the LS story outback. There are all sorts of strange things sent up into the outback sky by the fertile and twisted imaginations of the contributors. I happened to glance up while out there the other day, and caught a glimpse of something that came home to my imagination as vividly and horrifically as it first had three years ago. It was the oddest of all the oddities sent up by the LS writership, and it’s still up there, dripping down on the unwary.

Matthew Lyons’ * The Last Time I Saw Grampaw is sick and funny, and is a highflying target for the habitual sky looker-upper to have a gander at. Apparently, Grampaw was a fairly big fellow for chunks continue to slough off him, and there seems to be enough goo up there to carry on for years to come.

Q: I detected a surreal giddiness in this piece, which carried the day. Please tell us just how this scenario entered your mind? (I am praying that it is not autobiographical,)

Q: Who are your main influences as a writer? (In no way was I able to sniff parody of another author’s work in your singular style.)

*Dear Grammar Geeks: From here on I refuse to add an “s” after the apostrophe to mark the possessive as it relates to names that end with the letter “s.” MLA and Strunk say you have to do it, unless you’re writing about someone like Jesus. No real disrespect meant, but the sound “Lyons’s” makes in my head is as squishy and squirmy as the form of Grampaw. No more of it, Grammar Geeks!

Leila Allison

Matthew’s repsonses.

Q: I detected a surreal giddiness in this piece, which carried the day. Please tell us just how this scenario entered your mind? (I am praying that it is not autobiographical,)
 
Not autobiographical in the way that you’re thinking, thankfully! This piece was borne out of a funeral I attended some years back; after the official eulogy had been read, the gathered mourners were given leave to come up to the front and say a few words about the deceased, but as more people came up to speak, it became increasingly obvious that none of them actually knew the person laying in the casket at all, to the point that they were repeatedly calling them by the wrong name.
It was as if it was more important that they were seen to be mourning, rather than sharing something meaningful or resonant that might help others in their grief. That got me thinking about how people like to try and claim some sort of ownership over the dead, regardless of what kind of injury that those clumsy (and inherently false) displays of ownership might cause. As humans, we’re all selfish in the face of loss, but when loss becomes performative, there’s no end to the damage or absurdity that it can generate.
The bitter cynicism and giddy humor I felt sitting there at this funeral, watching this surreal tableau play out for – and I’m not kidding here – an hour or more is what I tried hardest to infuse into the piece.
 
Q: Who are your main influences as a writer? (In no way was I able to sniff parody of another author’s work in your singular style.)
This is one of the hardest questions to answer! I’m a bit of a media junkie, so my influences come from all over – literature, film, comedy, music, theatre, television, fine art, poetry… the list goes on and on; naturally it’s hard to isolate down only a few primary influences, but if I had to really choose (and I think I do), I think these three strike me as really fundamental these days:

 

– Reading Nick Cutter convinced me for good and all that the land of horror (and the horrifying) was where I wanted to spend the bulk of my creative life. His novels are violent, stark, increasingly strange, scary as hell and heartstoppingly beautiful in their grotesquery. One of those writers that always sets my brain on fire whenever I read any of his work. Start with The Troop and work your way forward. You won’t be disappointed.
– Ana Lily Amirpour is one of those filmmakers that pulls genre apart at the seams to play with the clockworks hiding underneath and manages to spin gold. Her debut film A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night knocked me flat, and her followup, The Bad Batch, is one of those movies that’s hard to explain without sounding like an actual crazy person. Her particular brand of magic isn’t anything I’ve encountered anywhere else; her work is an embarrassment of riches for anyone looking to see what genre can do when you blow it up from the inside.
– Andersen Prunty completely redefined what fiction is and could do in my mind when I was at a pretty pivotal moment in my life. His fiction is surreal, hilarious, volatile and nihilistically bleak (also profoundly frustrating if you go into it expecting, well, anything). I’ve never read anybody else who can do what he does in a few sentences; for me, he was a fantastic gateway drug to the bizarro genre, but he’s by no means a lesser practitioner. If you’re prepared to buy the ticket and take the ride, there’s really nobody who can do what he does better than him.

***

The Last Time I Saw Grampaw

2 thoughts on “Literally Reruns – The Last Time I Saw Grampaw by Matthew Lyons

  1. Hi Leila,
    Brilliant choice and excellent questions as usual.
    I was wondering, do you remember the first story you read on the site and have you done it as a re-run? And if you haven’t, it would be fun not only to read your introduction (As always) but for you to write a review on your review – Have you changed in what you say or how you say it over the years???

    And Matthew – Really enjoyed your comment on ownership of the dead. It is spot on. Whenever you tell someone of a death, they proceed to tell you the last time that they shad seen them.
    Hope you have more stories for us soon.

    Hugh

    Like

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