Literary musings, and news you can use, with Amye Archer
Sal Pane returns to Scranton for reading
As some of you may know, I host a local reading series called Prose in Pubs alongside the fabulous Andrea McGuigan and Mr. Jim Warner. This month, we are excited to welcome — as our feature — Scranton’s own Sal Pane, whose debut novel, Last Call in the City of Bridges has just been released to glowing reviews. I recently spoke with Sal about his Scranton roots and the influence the city has had on his writing.
AA: Tell us a little about Last Call in the City of Bridges.
SP: Last Call in the City of Bridges is about the implosion of a group of 20-somethings during the first Obama campaign. They’re all super plugged into the internet — they tweet and blog and livestream. When the protagonist, Michael Bishop, begins dating Ivy Chase, a pastor’s daughter, the artificial world they’ve built comes crumbling down. I started working on the book in graduate school. All my friends moved away, and we vowed to stay in touch via the internet. I remember feeling even more depressed as we “liked” each other’s statuses and pictures from thousands of miles away. I figured I couldn’t be the only one who felt that way.
AA: Braddock Avenue Books is a relatively new press. Correct?
SP: Yes. Braddock Avenue Books is an amazing press headed up by Jeffrey Condran and Robert Peluso out of a small mill town in western Pennsylvania. Their motto is “uncommon books for uncommon readers.” I’m beyond excited for what they have on tap. They’re publishing books by Aubrey Hirsch and Gary Fincke, two writers I really admire.
AA: You write extensively about Kanye West, including a whole chapbook. What’s up with that?
SP: The book is about narcissism in the digital age. When I think about that, I think about Kanye. He’s the most important artist of my generation. He’s taken the self-reflexive nature of Facebook statuses and Twitter updates and turned that into multimillion-dollar albums. He’s a genius. For a generation weaned on navel gazing, his work is comforting, terrifying and prophetic.
AA: How do you feel about returning to Scranton as a published author?
SP: I couldn’t be more excited to return to Scranton. I come back a few times each year, and I still very much feel part of the culture. To be able to return and actually read from my book is really a dream come true.
AA: Was Scranton an influence in Last Call in the City of Bridges?
SP: Absolutely. No matter what I’m writing, I feel the influence of Scranton. I have a very working class background. My mom is an administrative assistant, and my dad owned an auto body shop in town where I spent a lot of time as a kid. The one thing I never want to do is misrepresent those people.
AA: Finally, I know you have a lot of Nintendo (NES) games. Say your apartment is a raging inferno, and you can only save five of them. Which are they?
SP: First, I’d save ROB, which is a toy robot that only works with two Nintendo games. Then I’d save my Virtual Boy, a present from my girlfriend. I’d probably save my original copies of Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 from when I was a child, and then maybe Metal Storm, which is one of the rarer games I own.
Sal Pane will read at Prose in Pubs at Jack’s Draft House, 802 Prescott Ave., Scranton, on Dec. 23 at a special 4 p.m. bell time. To learn more about the author, visit www.salvatore-pane.com.
Amye Barrese Archer is a writer and teacher in Scranton. You can read more about her at www.amyearcher.com.