Lucy K Shaw - If my first book, The Motion, was being made into a movie, it would be very expensive to make. It is set in five different countries. There are scenes at The British Museum, at Sylvia Plath’s house, in Central Park, in Brooklyn, in Queens

The Motion by Lucy K Shaw

Lucy K Shaw, The Motion, 421 Atlanta, 2015.

Lucy K Shaw Website

There were so many layers of art upon art, everywhere. I was trying my best to ignore every one of them for a little while. But it never worked. I was always analysing from too many points of view. Always identifying intention when it didn’t have to matter.

'If my first book, The Motion, was being made into a movie, it would be very expensive to make. It is set in five different countries. There are scenes at The British Museum, at Sylvia Plath’s house, in Central Park, in Brooklyn, in Queens, at an office building close to Toronto airport, in an apartment in the center of Paris, and outside of a courthouse in the suburbs of Berlin, to name just a few of the locations. If my book was being made into a movie, I would want for it to be directed by Meggie Green.' - Lucy K Shaw

Excerpt: I Like to be in the Sea for That Reason, I Think
1. Five years ago, on my 22nd birthday, a friend sent me ‘The Easter Parade’ by Richard Yates in the mail. I had read his two short story collections, ‘Liars in Love’ and ‘Eleven Kinds of Loneliness’ two summers previously, but she didn’t know this, I don’t think. She had just read a lot of American fiction and had a good sense for what I might like too.
2. Those are the best titles though.
3. Liars in Love
4. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness
5. I have always been, I feel, the worse friend in that particular friendship. So many of my emails started, ‘I’m sorry it took me so long to respond,’ that eventually, I just stopped responding altogether.
6. Gabby recently read ‘The Easter Parade’ and we talked at length one time about how the main character, Emily Grimes, is basically just Richard Yates, as a woman. Gabby had read an interview in which Richard Yates said something like, ‘Emily fucking Grimes, that’s me.’
7. Whenever we have a conversation about writing characters who are very similar to ourselves, Gabby quotes, ‘Emily fucking Grimes, that’s me’ and I laugh and I say, ‘Yeah. Well, yeah, exactly.’
8. Emily Fucking Grimes, that’s me.
9. There’s a section in ‘The Easter Parade’ where Emily Fucking Grimes goes to live in Iowa with a bad poet who takes himself too seriously. I don’t remember too much about that part of the book except it seemed quite good at first and then soon enough, she was miserable. Also I can recall, vaguely, the layout of the house they lived in.
10. If Gabby and I went to live in Iowa, we wouldn’t write books about ourselves thinly-veiled as male characters.
11. I feel at my best when I can see very far in every direction.
12. The first line of ‘The Easter Parade’ is, ‘Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life.’ The first line.
13. We have resolved, like most sensible people, to read more books actually written by women.

The Motion Mixtape at Electric Literature
Profile at Playground magazine
Four Quotes From A Book I Loved at Entropy Enclave
Dennis Cooper's 4 Books I Recently Read & LovedReview at Banango Lit
Interview at Weird Sister

1. I met Lucy K Shaw at a bar on a July night in Baltimore. We played cards, and I ate a bad oyster.
2. This was at the end of a short impromptu trip I took to visit Adam Robinson. Nothing was settled between us yet, but we were hopeful.
3. I got sick every time I ate oysters for the next 18 months.
4. In September, I talked to Adam about starting a small press named after my street address in Atlanta, 421. We were in line at a Chipotle in Baltimore. Things between us were more settled, and we were still hopeful. I would need Adam’s help to start a press.
5. By January, I had published two chapbooks, my own and Daniel Beauregard‘s. Adam designed the covers and the insides. I had asked Mary Ruefle and Maggie Nelson for manuscripts, but they both politely declined. To figure out what to publish next, I held a short prose chapbook contest, judged by Mary Miller. We got 78 entries or something, and I picked 10 or 11 finalists.
6. Adam processed the entries so that I could read them without looking at who wrote them, but I knew or strongly thought that one of the finalists was Lucy K Shaw, based on her mention of a friend named Gabby and these lines: “I had just learned where the phrase, ‘What would you do for a Klondike bar?’ comes from. An instance which had reminded me, cruelly I felt, that I hadn’t grown up in America like the rest of my friends.”
7. At that time, the manuscript was called, Pain Always Produces Logic, Which Is Very Bad For You. It had 6 stories. I knew I wanted to publish it whether or not Mary chose it as the winner. Mary chose The Passion of Joan of Arc by William Todd Seabrook, who turned out to be an experienced winner of chapbook contests. It was great fun to publish Todd’s manuscript. We had two release parties, one with Natalie Lyalin and Seth Landman, and one with Laird Hunt.
8. In the meantime, I confirmed that Lucy wrote what I suspected she wrote, and I asked to publish the manuscript later that year. Because of the time difference between Atlanta and England, the email timestamp shows that she said yes 4 hours and 9 minutes before I asked. There’s no way to know what really happened.
9. By the time we announced in April, the manuscript didn’t have a title anymore. We planned to publish the chapbook in November.
10. That didn’t happen. But we were working on it. Lucy revised and added a story, and I sent editorial notes, and by November, the manuscript had a title—The Motion, a cover image, and 7 stories. The Frank O’Hara quotation that original title came from had become an epigraph. Six months before, Adam had moved to the house that I named the press after, and we’d made plans to start this website.
11. We launched Real Pants on January 1. On January 3, I ate oysters and didn’t get sick. We had oysters again at our launch party and I still didn’t get sick.
12. All that was involved with starting the website afforded me little time to devote to The Motion. I wanted to give Lucy’s manuscript the serious attention it deserved.
13. We got back to work when the time was right. Lucy had written two more stories in the process of moving to Berlin. I continue to be astonished by how Lucy works. The last story in the book, “Wedding,” is extraordinary. (There is a tenth piece after Wedding but it isn’t a story).
14. I didn’t know it yet, but “Wedding” took The Motion from chapbook to perfect-bound book with a spine.
15. We did a quick back-and-forth with edits and sent the manuscript to the 421 Atlanta design department (Adam). He laid it out as a chapbook but asked what I thought about publishing it as a small book instead.
16. With some trepidation, I asked Lucy what she thought. I loved the idea, but what if Lucy didn’t want The Motion to be her first straight-up book book, with an ISBN and an Amazon listing and all that? What if she didn’t want her first book to come out from 421 Atlanta? The press is very small and new, with no budget to speak of, and I didn’t want to assume that just because she entrusted her chapbook manuscript to me, that she would be okay with this bait-and-switch.
17. Plus, formatted as a small perfect-bound book, The Motion is 78 pages, which is a lot fewer than most full-length books of short stories. It is the length of a full-length poetry book, maybe, but The Motion is prose.
18. I phrased my email to Lucy more like a statement than a question, to inspire confidence and trust. I called it “a short collection of prose. A short book of short stories.” It worked. She reacted like this.
19. We decided to publish a first edition of 500.
20. It’s definitely the right way. A chapbook is a singular thing of its own. Chapbooks love to be read all at once, and they don’t love to be reprinted in new editions. They come in all different shapes and bindings, sometimes sewn and sometimes stapled, but I don’t think they ever have spines. They are invertebrates. I believe in the form, and 421 Atlanta will publish chapbooks again in the future.
21. A book is an elastic, expansive, enduring thing. A book, long or short, has bones and multiple systems within it.
22. The Motion is a book. It is Lucy K Shaw’s debut collection of stories and it will be published by 421 Atlanta.
23. It’s really an honor. -- Amy McDaniel

"The Motion” by Lucy K Shaw begins with a trip to the house where Sylvia Plath lived shortly before her death. The only company the narrator has is a blistering hangover and the nagging feeling that our connection to the past does us little good as we search for a personal future.
We live in a brave new world, where available information is a dark yawning ocean invisible around us. But “The Motion” wonders what right we have to seek out personal connections in the modern age, whether they be to long dead artists or to the people we choose to love.
Throughout the book the narrator finds herself driven ceaselessly forward and a real and lasting connection to virtually anything seems impossible in a world this fast and fleeting. “The Motion” presents the reader with an idea that may have been nagging them their whole lives: if we now have access to limitless human information, both past and present, how can we know if the connections we choose to make are the right ones? How could we ever slow down in such a reality?
Across five different countries and with a fluid sense of the way time gets away from us, the narrator attempts to reconcile all the empty spaces in her life with carefully constructed lists that are not afraid to catalogue the monumental and the mundane alongside one another.
Pop culture becomes a language unto itself, a secret music of obscure interview quotes from dead writers, rap lyrics known by millions, and in­jokes between ex lovers. Shaw explores the way in which the digital age has made the world seem confoundingly both bigger and smaller, a kaleidoscope of information we’re all at the mercy of. “The Motion” argues that now we are, in fact, just keenly more aware of our distance from one another, city to city, century to century. At one point the narrator is urged to listen to a clock that has been ticking for hundreds of years, lifetimes after its maker has passed away, and the historic cacophony of such a simple sound is thunderous.
In the final story of the collection, “Wedding”, the narrator finally finds herself coming to a stop. The velocity of the previous years has intentionally been halted and ultimately it is not one person or artistic discovery that initiates this need to just. slow. down. Instead, the reader is shown that eventually we must accept the accumulation of humanity we’ve poured into our hearts over the years. There is peace in accepting that the future never truly arrives, that the end and the beginning loops endlessly into itself, all of us spinning closer together before being swept apart again. In the end, the idea that each of us can stand in the maelstrom of an ever shifting disposable culture and truly make a worthwhile investment in other wandering hearts seems like the best claim to happiness possible. We can cut through the death and the distance to take hold of a single moment together.
“The Motion” by Lucy K Shaw is that perfectly timed alarm on your phone, raising its digital voice to cut through the senseless soundtrack of your day, letting you know that someone,somewhere, feels less alone because you exist.- Matthew Bookin

The Curse - The QuietusSearch - Illuminati Girl GangPerfection of Doubt - Voicemail PoemsDramatic Irony - The Bohemyth The Path That A Moving Object Follows As A Function of Time - Cage MatchLove in the Time of Google Analytics - Zona NouaLouise Bourgeois - Belleville Park PagesNight Swim & other poems - The Yolo PagesThe History of American Literature - For Every YearThe Britney Youth - PlaygroundOn Meggie Green - Bright Stupid ConfettiWhich Night? - Keep This Bag Away From ChildrenTangible - Shabby Doll HouseTangerines & Ice Skates - with artwork by Bob SchofieldSalt Air
One Day


Find Your Accident [2013]
Measure My Waist [2012]
LK Shaw vs LK Showbiz [2012]



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