Friction XV

Chapter XV from my novel Friction.



The priest made the appropriate hand motions and mumblings before the truck then went around to the passenger side and climbed in with the trucks rumbling forward then across the border in a strong white line of rattling obstinate defiance critical humanitarian aid the Russians say thinly veiled invasion the Ukrainians say half empty fully empty partially full cargo trucks knocking down the main road to Luhansk then turning off and heading north via country road into the village of Uralo-Kavkaz to avoid Ukrainian troops coming some 80 years after the Holodomor which is still widely a secret the genocide of millions unmentioned in the West coming into Ukraine this time instead of hauling people wasted out to Siberia and other desolate locales leaving them to scavenge fruitlessly for food and evaporate into the frozen air the trucks now a ruse to provide cover for pro-Russian separatists who were on the point of being overrun by Ukrainian forces the white Russian trucks a dare as it were to the Ukrainian government to continue military action against the rebels and thereby risk striking these mobile offerings of humanitarian aid

Bullshit Angelika pronounces Putin will say anything to advance his imperialistic aims or to keep the rest of the world from stopping him more accurately he’s mimicking Stalin and the world sits by and watches forgets and watches


RNC Friction

To mark the city of Cleveland’s recent announcement of the official event zone, parade route, protest areas, etc. for the upcoming Republican National Convention: Chapter X of my recently released novel Friction, in which the characters react to the convention from a 2014 vantage point.



It was around that time that the Republican National Committee announced it would be holding its upcoming convention in our town which produced a cynical glint in Angelika’s eye a cynicism that nonetheless sparkled with a certain criminal glee I can’t believe they’d allow nay court that kind of bullshit here she told me motherfucking Republicans we need to grab em by the balls while they’re here grab em by the balls and twist them off perform abortions on public square or something something to really flip their wigs I laughed but without any degree of confidence that Angelika was joking there seemed in fact to be a heat radiating from her that signaled some kind of outside menace one perhaps that had swept in on the wave of fascistic tidings to take possession of our friend Angelika it struck me with both fear and excitement to see her so charged I’m sure you’ll be able to get your fill of protests I said which immediately ignited a new rage in Angelika flashing across her face like shadow and light play from the clouds I don’t just want some protest I recall her nearly screaming but probably she wasn’t so aggressive in her response I want to be part of something that matters not comfortable continuing this line of talk with Angelika in such a state or with my imagining that she was in such a state I assured her that she would come up with something with the convention still two years off she certainly had enough time to develop a plan although just the thought of what monstrosity she might in fact unleash upon our fair city prevented me from relaxing any and I began to craft my own plan for excusing myself from Angelika that afternoon or morning or whatever it was with the hope that her rage at the announcement of the convention would pass over leaving her more sensible for our next encounter a parade of elephants tattooed with corporate logos ridden by geriatric white guys with unnaturally strong erections trampling people mostly women in the city streets she was musing as I was getting up and saying goodbye the people I suppose would have to be dummies though she conceded

‘Friction’ Available April 12

perf5.000x7.000.inddMatt Marshall’s second novel, Friction, will be published April 12, 2016, by Caged Letter Press.

The book unfolds over the tumultuous year 2014. The planet continues to warm, pro-Russian militants seize large swaths of Eastern Ukraine, the Islamic State rises to terror in the Middle East, Syria splinters further toward collapse, Ebola breaks out in West Africa, unbridled white cops cut down unarmed blacks in U.S. cities, heroin kills indiscriminately throughout the Midwest (and beyond), a floundering man meets a desperate woman wheeling her bike off the velodrome in Cleveland.

Written in a free-flowing style punctuated by shifts in font size, Friction follows the relationship between these two Clevelanders—the woman, a recovering heroin addict increasingly drawn into the conflict in her ancestral Ukraine; the man, an “astronomical folklorist” with a penchant for Sun Ra recordings, trying, perhaps, just to stay tethered to Earth. Identities flitter and morph as 2014 rumbles on and the two struggle to find meaningful roles amidst the upheaval.

Read the opening chapter of Friction.

Pre-order Friction (paperback or e-book) from your favorite bookstore or online:

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The Starlight Line: Places

“So I walked out the door of that strangely abandoned flat there at Orizaba 210 stepped onto the bright sidewalk y doblé a la derecha up cross streets past the fountain in the Plaza Luis Cabrera sparkling the morning sunlight the noise wonderful cool but then blending with noise incredible I just noticed placed cars whizzing by in a fashion I’d never that I stopped without realizing it and the fountain roared into all sights of kids running by in clothes manufactured by in between paths of sleekly hewn plastic cars and metal screeches of sound thru opened windows pounding noise and beat what smoothly swiping corner and was gone I stood dumb the only thing in the whole world apparently now silent drinking in the lappings of the fountain’s spray at its pool quiet for how long no knowing guessing what this world was with as I soon discovered later high glass buildings rising to the clouds and smog and all manner of commerce in square sculpted buildings and metal glass noise speed lights rushing off between trees into the whole of oncoming future.” (The Starlight Line, pg. 126)


The Starlight Line: Places

“Or had all those who sought to cast a new, unique look on the travels of Kerouac simply not cared to see this woman other than through Jack’s gaze? Was this drug-addled, prostituting Azteca deemed a distraction from the greater task of understanding the American writer? Was she not worth the trouble? Or did her trails running away from Jack—into the past and into the future—only expire into the thin Mexican air, leaving anyone foolish enough to take up the search fanning silken particles of light? But I will begin it, I tell myself, happily smoking my Te Amo in the sun outside the Café del Ángel, which itself no longer exists. I can start the story after B arrives and supplies me with all the requisite information.” (The Starlight Line, p. 47)

Cafe del Angel_final_lo-res

The Starlight Line: Places

“I headed north again, crossing back over the westbound lane of Obregón and continuing the few blocks to the Plaza Rio de Janeiro, circled past the gray copy of Michelangelo’s David perched there amidst the fountain and went on one block more to the Casa Universitaria del Libro, another opulent, neocolonial residence from the early twentieth century situated at the intersection of Orizaba and Puebla, and now a building of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, dedicated to the advancement and promotion of literature.” (The Starlight Line, p. 59-60)

Casa del libro

‘The Starlight Line’ is now available!

Proof Cover2_cropped_adjustedMy debut novel, The Starlight Line, has just been published by Red Giant Books. This has been in the works for a while now, but, after some unexpected delays, the book is finally out and itching to be read.

Part barroom Beat romance, part cubist caper, part speculative literary critique, The Starlight Line is sure to please. So get ye to your favorite local bookstore and order up some copies for you and your friends. (Also available from usual online suspects: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s.)

Some Advance Praise for The Starlight Line:

With echoes of Kerouac, Lowry, and Bukowski, Matt Marshall delivers a penetrating, but oddly reassuring, look into the souls of the drifters, drinkers and all the rest of us who just don’t fit in.

—Larry Kirwan, author of A History of Irish MusicRockin’ the Bronx and Liverpool Fantasy, and former leader of Irish-American rock band Black 47

Matt Marshall’s novel, The Starlight Line, is a fascinating, complex, layer-cake of a book. The frame narration is semi-autobiographical; the narrator is a frustrated writer from Cleveland, searching for inspiration. The other layers interpenetrate and enrich the frame story: Jack London’s drug-addled wanderings; Trotsky’s assassination in Mexico; a writer’s search for Jack Kerouac’s mysterious muse, Esperanza Villanueva. Marshall’s skillful technique allows him to experiment with a variety of narrative voices that work like various instruments in a symphony. The voices add texture and depth to the story. In effect, Marshall produces a novel that is about the process of fiction writing itself.

—Philip J. Skerry, author of Dark Energy: Hitchcock’s Absolute Camera and the Physics of Cinematic Spacetime and Psycho in the Shower: The History of Cinema’s Most Famous Scene