Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Riots I Have Known"

Ryan Chapman is a Sri Lankan-American writer originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. His work has appeared online at The New Yorker, GQ, Bookforum, BOMB, Guernica, and The Believer. He is a recipient of fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and the Millay Colony for the Arts. He lives in upstate New York.

Chapman applied the Page 69 Test to Riots I Have Known, his first novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
Coolhunters and tobacco marketers both know if you’re going to get big, first you have to get the influencers: your Lego architects, your SXSW “experiential leads,” your prop stylists for Japanese workwear zines. I direct new readers to “We Have All Killed the Widows,” a rather thorough listserv of Holding Pen scholarship. The moderators claim with some degree of confidence two distinct and near-simultaneous first sightings of The Holding Pen in the cultural underground.

Last December a restaurant named Napkins opened in the Mission District of San Francisco, the newest addition to celebrity chef Frankie DiCredenza’s growing empire. DiCredenza has the reputation for being as lax with his restaurants’ decor as he is meticulous with his crudo. It would not surprise any of his many loyal fans to learn his first Michelin star (French Stuff, in London’s Gravesend) was awarded only after fierce internal debate whether he even qualified: his plywood tables had been pulled from the refuse pile at a nearby wharf and gave the judges several splinters in their hindquarters. As for Napkins, the chef was dating a homeless teenager he’d found shooting up in the alley behind the restaurant; DiCredenza asked the young man to furnish the place for $800. Destiny pushed the doped-up kid into a nearby dumpster, and two weeks later Napkins opened to rapturous reviews about its duck à l’orange ... and its curiously moving placemats. (That kid’s name? You guessed it already: Grammy-nominee and MTV Music Video Award winner DJ G-G-G-Ghost!!!)
The novel is a book-length, live-blog confession written by a prisoner who has barricaded himself inside the prison’s media lab while a largescale riot rages outside. He’s also the proud editor of house lit journal The Holding Pen, and in these paragraphs he explains how it found mainstream success among the un-incarcerated. You get a sense of the narrator’s desperate need to impress, as well as his desperate need to rush through the details of his life story before discovery and dismemberment. That’s right, it’s a comedy.
Visit Ryan Chapman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue