Reviews > Published on May 12th, 2015

Bookshots: ‘The Guild Of Saint Cooper’ By Shya Scanlon

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The Guild Of Saint Cooper

Who wrote it?

What I found most refreshing about 'The Guild Of Saint Cooper' is that...the reader gets to see the end coming in all its weird and terrifying glory.

Novelist, essayist, and poet, Shya Scanlon.

Plot in a Box:

Author Blake Williams is waiting for the apocalypse to come in his childhood home with his cancer stricken, dope smoking mother when he meets a prophetic commune leader named Russell, who convinces Blake to write a Bible-like “history” of Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks. Oh, and there’s aliens, and conspiracy theories, and mind control. Yeah, it’s a weird ride.

Invent a new title for this book:

Try To Be Alive! You’ll Be Dead Soon Enough!

Read this if you liked:

Find Me By Laura van den Berg, 10:04 By Ben Lerner, Cat’s Cradle By Kurt Vonnegut

Meet the book’s lead:

Blake Williams, a best selling author who is waiting for the apocalypse with his dope smoking mom, and attempting to write a Bible-like history of Agent Dale Cooper.

Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:

He’s a little too old for it, but I can only see Bill Pullman playing Blake.

Setting: would you want to live there?

The bulk of the novel takes place in Seattle, Washington, so you betcha.

What was your favorite sentence?

In the wake of all manner of great threats or cataclysms, the death of irony had been publicly trumpeted throughout my life. It only truly died when it had become redundant.

The Verdict:

Here’s your obvious statement of the day: David Lynch is the most influential American cultural force of the last 50 years.

Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of folks who disagree with that particular statement, and chances are they would have some pretty cogent arguments as to why Lynch isn’t as influential as I think he is. But my counter argument would consist of only two words: Twin Peaks.

Seriously, without Twin Peaks, television shows such as The X-Files, the Sopranos, Breaking Bad, etc., wouldn’t exist. Twin Peaks created long form television; shows which concentrate on a single storyline for multiple seasons, or for their entire run. Lynch’s creation also let television creators get weird, and audiences embraced—for the most part— the weirdness. Of course, I could also mention Lynch’s films such as Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Wild At Heart, Mulholland Dr., etc., and their influence on not only movies and television, but literature as well.

So can Shya Scalon’s latest and most ambitious novel be described as Lynchian? Most definitely, particularly with its hop scotch structure and crazy quilt of off kilter characters preparing for a Tsunami to come and wipe out the coastlines of the world. But Scanlon’s influences, of course, go beyond Lynch and Twin Peaks, and he definitely writes with his own pen, but with polite nods to Kurt Vonnegut and Katherine Dunn.

But what I found most refreshing about The Guild Of Saint Cooper is that with the glut of literary post-apocalypse novels that have exploded onto the scene in the past two years, most of them are very dour affairs which focus exclusively on the after and only provide brief glimpses into the world before the human race snuffs out. But with The Guild Of Saint Cooper, the reader gets to see the end coming in all its weird (and I’m really emphasizing weird here, folks, because the other thing I found most refreshing about The Guild Of Saint Cooper is how strange and funny it is) and terrifying glory.

Like Twin Peaks and the films of David Lynch, The Guild Of Saint Cooper isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you like a heavy dose of funny with your apocalypse, you’re going to absolutely love it.

About the author

Keith Rawson is a little-known pulp writer whose short fiction, poetry, essays, reviews, and interviews have been widely published both online and in print. He is the author of the short story collection The Chaos We Know (SnubNose Press)and Co-Editor of the anthology Crime Factory: The First Shift. He lives in Southern Arizona with his wife and daughter.

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