Joseph Scapellato is, I think, secretly a poet.
His prose is tumbleweeds and fanfare, philosophic and prophetic and candid. He is a master of the quite-short-story, and it was just as pleasurable plunging into the longer pieces. Big Lonesome is concerned with lonesomeness, but also justice, and also jealousy, and also forgiveness, and also homeplace, and also death, and also love.
His stories make me want to break apart their structure. His sentences make me want to stand inside of canyons. I love this book. Here is a found poem from the text:
EVEN THOUGH HE DIDN’T KNOW WHAT LOVE WAS OR HOW IT WORKED, WHERE IT CAME FROM, WHEN IT LEFT YOU, HOW TO KNOW IF IT HAD STAYED
The land is answers,
legs that tighten with restraint.
brushed with blood and flour
cracking, struggling behind a headboard of clouds.
ON, he clicks, ON. The eye stays OFF.
The kiss is bad.
The women who hadn’t moved with them
the living stillness
the sort of woman you felt in your throat
a crate in a cellar
a tongue of black shade
a cracked guitar
a puddle of sunset
a human person female girl.
The cowboy tried to point at himself
long and flat as a map.
He doesn’t kick-smash anything.
He doesn’t bellow.
Everything lurched and I lurched with it—
the vast black beach
like a hide he’d cut himself.
Beneath that you are a man, and beneath that you are
the door, a blade of light—
all man, all horse.
He just lay there, feeling the moon on his neck.
It bit me, it rattled,