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Literature

Tim Coursey Discusses His New Novel with Ben Fountain and David Searcy Tomorrow Night

The artist (and furniture maker and jewelry maker and probable genius and now writer) will be at Wild Detectives.
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Elizabeth Lavin

You may recall that early last year I profiled the talented multi-hyphenate Tim Coursey on the occasion of his exhibition at SMU’s Pollock Gallery. If you don’t, well I did. Part of the story involved his old friend, the writer David Searcy. They’ve known each other since their days at SMU. Searcy guided me through the many pieces of furniture and art and strange objects made by Coursey that fill his house.

Another part of the story involved his other old friend, the writer Ben Fountain, who he’s known not quite as long, since Fountain was a lawyer and Coursey made furniture for lawyers at Fountain’s firm. In that part, Fountain talks about reading Coursey’s work for the first time.

After Coursey started writing, a few years ago, in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, he eventually asked Fountain to take a look at his stories, steeped with the darkness lurking underneath 1960s counterculture and a healthy dose of modern-day paranoia. (It’s fitting that the riot at the Capitol happened the day before I visited Coursey at his shop; the so-called QAnon Shaman, in his face paint and headdress, might have been a background character in one of Coursey’s pieces.) Fountain often gets asked to read people’s stuff, and though he often accepts, he never expects what he receives to be any good. Even with Coursey, Fountain tempered his expectations. Then he started reading.

“He’s got his own unique style or voice,” he says. “But it goes beyond just style. I mean, it’s the perspective. It’s the habit of mind a writer brings to the world. And you can tell pretty quickly if somebody has an engaged and active mind or if it’s a passive, not very interesting mind. And his is hitting on all cylinders all the time. That’s what you see in his writing. He’s extremely aware of the world and engaged in it at all levels, from the visual through the emotional, psychological. I mean, he’s great on family dynamics. He’s great on counterculture. He’s great on good ol’ American paranoia. I mean, he’s got the whole package.

“So now, it turns out, he might be a genius writer, too,” Fountain says. There is an implied that son of a bitch.

So it makes sense to have all three together for the official launch of Coursey’s first novel, Driving Lessons. I read it in rough form when I wrote about Coursey—an unedited version, printed on a risograph machine and filled with Coursey’s wonderful drawings was part of the show. So I can back up Fountain’s assessment.

It goes down at 7 p.m. tomorrow night at Wild Detectives.

Author

Zac Crain

Zac Crain

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Zac, senior editor of D Magazine, has written about the explosion in West, Texas; legendary country singer Charley Pride; Tony…

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