Welcome to Iconoclastic Press, publisher of The Great American Desert, that peculiar and strangely compelling new novel that breaks new ground in the world of narrative prose. I am Brian Kruse, author of said novel and sole proprietor of Iconoclastic Press.
In this blog, I will be writing about the sometimes utterly maddening process of writing and, especially, self-publishing. I may also let slip a few remarks about the world of mainstream publishing today, such as the following:
The most maddening advice that people give writers about submitting manuscripts is to say that you write just like somebody else, as if art is a commodity, like grain. When you drive a truckload of corn down to the elevator, they pay you so much per bushel, minus something for excess moisture and foreign material, because corn is basically corn. As long as you convince them that you write just like a current best-selling author, they will buy as much as you can grow.
I have written a novel about the nature of time and of history. It is told Antony Munchner, a somewhat addled young man who may or may not have been named for St. Antony of Egypt, who, like the narrator, was orphaned at an early age.
The story takes place largely in Jersey County, in southern Illinois just north of and across the river from St. Louis.
I mention the river especially, because it is a major character in the book.
Jersey County, unlike William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpa County, is a real place. I have taken a few liberties with the actual landscape — put a much-needed coffee shop caddycorner from Lorton’s on State Street for instance — but there really is a Piasa Bird overlooking the Great River Road between Alton and Grafton. The Piasa Bird is another major character.
Okay, I do write a little bit like Faulkner. My sentences are long. I’ll try to watch that. The sentences in the book, some of them, are terribly long, as Antony, the narrator, an historian who himself has been more or less frozen in time since the day of his father’s death, has a terrible habit of second-guessing things, as well as an occasionally debilitating addiction to ancient history.
Along with Faulkner, I owe a lot to Laurence Sterne, who wrote a tour de force called The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman in the mid-eighteenth century, a time of tremendous creativity in the world of prose fiction. Nobody knew, yet, exactly what a novel was supposed to look like, and so writers were free to mold the form to fit their particular vision of how to tell stories.
The art of fiction is in the telling. Stories themselves are usually pretty simple. The one in The Great American Desert certainly is. The plot can be laid out in nine little words, six nouns and three verbs, but they’re in the book so I’ll let you find them yourself.
This site and this blog are currently works in progress. Please email me via the link on the homepage if you have questions or comments. The book itself should be available for purchase, signed by yours truly, by about the end of October.