He phoned after passing Main St., he was turning around. I ran down the alley in front of Backwoods Brewery in Nashville, Indiana. Saw the gray black mini coupe. Aaron Morales parked. Got out we shook hands. He’s about 5’5 or 5’6. Clean cut. Hair the shade of an oil slick. Thin. Inked forearms. And he cusses like a motherfucker. I knew we’d hit it off.
He wrote a deep, dark tome titled, Drowning Tucson (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Drowning-Tucson/Aaron-Michael-Morales/e/9781566892407/?itm=1&USRI=drowning+tucson). A book of inner connected stories. It’ll break your heart and bust the cartilage in your nose. His phrasing, masculine fiction. My words, bad ass. If you’ve read Bukowski or Selby, prepare for the next generation. He’s the real deal.
My favorite story, Rainbow, tells of a girl who lost her virginity to her grandfather at age 13. And after he dies she’s abandoned by her mother. I won’t spoil anything else. Buy the damn thing. Man up, as Aaron would say.
We walked back to the brewery. I introduced him to my wife. We ordered drinks. Like his prose, he’s a straight shooter. He holds no remorse for the words he speaks. We talked about how he ended up in Indiana. He moved when he was a senior in high school from Tucson to Terre Haute. He was raised catholic. Graduated. Applied to college. Wrote an essay and got into Purdue. His parents split after 20 some years of matrimony. He’s brother in prison. Sister in the military another gives tattoos. He’s a brother in Bloomington. Aaron teaches writing at Indiana State up in Terre Haute.
Explaining his life and where he came from, the characters in Drowning Tucson took shape for me. The gang bangers, prostitutes, military men and their wives. A gay man seeking revenge on his lost love. He’s a real person. A writer with depth.
One of the big things we discussed was writing being published today. Most of what is read is boring. There are enough novels on bad marriages and relationships in general to stock a shopping mall. We spoke on violence and the breaking points of the human soul. Getting into the head of a character and discovering the why’s? and how’s? of people. What makes them tick and suddenly explode with rage.
We talked about writers we dig, Donald Ray Pollock. Kyle Minor and Neil Smith. Chuck Palahniuk, Irvine Welsh and Bret Easton Ellis. Larry Brown, William Gay, Tom Franklin, Elmore Leonard and Scott Phillips. Unfortunately he dropped a lot of names I didn't write down and the drink made them disappear.
I asked him about Hubert Selby Jr., cause his book really reminded me of his writing. He smiled. Told me he’d spent time with Selby before he passed. Had wanted to do a textbook on him but someone had beat him to the punch. He’s taught Selby in one of his classes. Used the film Requiem For a Dream. Talk about powerful.
We touched on the meth epidemic and immigration and Tucson. Talked a bit about his next book, Eat Your Children. It’s about meth. I won’t leave any spoilers.
We drank up a $103 beer bill and felt better for it. He wanted to grab a shot of whiskey but I had to motor back to the cabin and check on the dog. I plan on hooking up with Aaron again, soon. Very soon.
Check Aaron out at: www.aaronmichaelmorales.com