Lincoln Michel relinquishes his inner literary monster in the recently-released short story collection, “Upright Beasts.” The Charlottesville native and Mudhouse coffee enthusiast came to the New Dominion bookstore on Nov. 12 to share his recent success with friends, family and fans. Reading several excerpts from his new collection, the author showcased his ability to take real experiences and transform them into fantastical fictional journeys.
“Upright Beasts” is divided into four parts: “Upright Beasts,” “North American Mammals,” “Familiar Creatures” and “Megafauna.” In this work, the reader is forced to grapple with the notions of loss, belonging, and confusion in a hypnotizing way, making it hard to decipher reality from the surreal.
The crowd favorite was a story from the “Familiar Creatures” section entitled, “My Life in the Bellies of the Beasts.” The story narrates the life of a young boy who has been successively swallowed by animals since birth, making a life for himself inside their bellies. As the young boy moves through the digestive organs of foxes, mastiffs, bears and whales he is faced with the increasingly difficult task of escape. The implausibility of the adventure is undeniably entertaining and as the bellies described got bigger, the laughter increased.
When asked to further explain the metaphor of the belly, Michel said, “I think there are different interpretations of my writing; I like the idea of an adapting metaphor.”
Kafka unsurprisingly made the top of the list of writers who had influenced Michel. His short stories embrace Kafka’s style of writing, praise the surreal and mock the absurdities of life. Michel also mentioned writers such as Flannery O’Connor and Shirley Jackson.
Prior to “Upright Beasts,” Michel wrote “Gigantic Worlds” — an anthology of science flash fiction stories — as well as a trading card series entitled “Monsters of Modern Literature,” over the course of his 11 year career. However, this latest collection is just the beginning of Lincoln Michel’s success, as the author says he is currently working on a supervillain novel.
When asked how he knew that writing was his calling he jokingly said, “when I realized that I wasn’t good at anything else.” While humble about his talent, it was obvious to everyone in the room that writing is what Michel is meant to do.