Wednesday, December 31, 2014

As this exciting year comes to an end, I would like to an extend my sincere thanks once again to the Community Partnership for Arts & Culture for selecting me as a 2014 Fellow. CPAC's mission is to strengthen, unify and connect greater Cleveland's arts and culture sector, and the Creative Workforce Fellowship is a program that underscores CPAC's belief that writers are essential to sustaining the social fabric, educational quality, and economic well-being of greater Cleveland.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Largehearted Boy: Book Notes

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Kevin P. Keating's The Natural Order of Things is an intriguingly told, dark and often disturbing novel-in-stories.
Booklist wrote of the book:
"This is Peyton Place sunk a few rungs lower in hell, featuring the abuse of animals, prostitutes, handicapped children, and just about every husband and wife in town. Keating's prose, though, is serpentine and sinewy and all-around gorgeous; if Jack Ketchum had plotted Franzen's The Corrections (2001), it might’ve looked something like this."


Monday, January 27, 2014

2014 Creative Workforce Fellowship

Keating Named a 2014 Creative Workforce Fellow

The Community Partnership for Arts & Culture (CPAC) announced today the names of the 2014 Creative Workforce Fellows.  Each of the twenty Fellows will receive $20,000 this year to be used to advance their artistic endeavors and development.  This annual program has, since its inception in 2009, provided nearly $2.5 million in Fellowship grants. 
“This year’s fellows represent some of the most creative and innovating artists who make their homes in Cuyahoga County, and we are honored to welcome them to the select Fellowship family,” said Thomas Chema, chair of CPAC’s Board of Trustees.  “Northeast Ohio is fortunate to be home to thousands of exceptional artists, working in a variety of disciplines. These artists produce practical and intrinsic values for our community. They are investing and working to revitalize of our neighborhoods.  They are principal players in knowledge and creative-based economies.   Through their art they can raise new ideas and impart sharper insights that expand our perceptions. They help to make our community, and our lives, more vibrant.”

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Booklist Starred Review

From the January 1, 2014 edition of Booklist:

The wrong reader who picks this up won’t have to read long before hurling it across the room. Packed with depravity like a bloated corpse about to burst, the book could easily be written off as sadistic or hateful. But if you look at Keating’s debut as a sort of horror anthology—no supernatural here, but plenty of monsters—each lurid shock becomes all the more impressive. (The fact that it takes place over a single Halloween weekend is our hint.) The book is arranged as a series of character studies that keep circling back over the same few events, with minor characters from previous stories graduating to the spotlight...This is Peyton Place sunk a few rungs lower in hell, featuring the abuse of animals, prostitutes, handicapped children, and just about every husband and wife in town. Keating’s prose, though, is serpentine and sinewy and all-around gorgeous; if Jack Ketchum had plotted Franzen’s The Corrections (2001), it might’ve looked something like this.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Publishers Weekly

From the November 15, 2013 edition of Publishers Weekly:

Last fall, Timothy O’Connell, an editor at Vintage, noticed a starred PW review of The Natural Order of Things by Kevin P. Keating. In February he learned that the novel, at the time available via print-on-demand from Aqueous Books, had been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. By then, his interest was really piqued and, by coincidence, an opportunity to acquire the paperback rights landed on his desk shortly thereafter.

David Patterson, an agent at Foundry, submitted the book in early March alongside Keating’s next novel, Captive Condition. During the first week of April, O’Connell secured a two-book deal at auction for paperback rights to The Natural Order of Things and rights for all formats for The Captive Condition. Vintage released an e-book of The Natural Order of Things in advance of the L.A. Times awards to put some version on the market in the event that the novel won (it didn’t; Keating lost out to Maggie Shipstead for Seating Arrangements), and will publish the book as a Vintage Contemporaries paperback original in April 2014, alongside an updated e-book. O’Connell expects the manuscript for The Captive Condition soon, and hopes for hardcover publication next fall by Pantheon.

Read the entire article

Monday, October 07, 2013

Published in Cleveland Scene

Excerpt from The Natural Order of Things:

For more than one hundred years, the Jesuit school has been regarded by its students, administrators, and staff as a beacon of uncompromising moral standards, an important symbol of Catholic piety located at the center of a labyrinth of winding boulevards, blind alleys, and crumbling brick lanes; streets that seem to twist and turn and double back on themselves so that even the slavering packs of stray dogs, the most intuitive of cartographers, have great difficulty navigating the chaos of slate sidewalks as they scrounge for rancid gobbets before vanishing like ghosts into the dripping cellars of abandoned houses; a once picturesque quarter of the city now overrun by liquor stores, empty factories, and a small cheerless café that has garnered notoriety as a literary demimonde where uninspired poets squabble with the barista over the price of a cup of coffee; "the old neighborhood" as it is sometimes called—old because the Gilded Age mansions and Depression Era brownstones are in advanced stages of decay; the rooftops leaking, the foundations sinking imperceptibly into sandy soil, the copper pipes waiting to be harvested from the plaster walls and sold for scrap; old because no developer has been willing to risk the necessary investment to tear down these decomposing behemoths—the grand movie palace, the marble rotunda of a failed bank, the famous hotel ballroom with its Corinthian columns covered in gangland graffiti—to clear enough land for a sparkling new shopping center, a high dollar bistro, a fashionable boutique, a well-lit parking garage.

Read the full excerpt

Sunday, September 22, 2013

First published in The Quivering Pen

My First Trip to Los Angeles:

From Culver City in the northeast to Venice Beach in the southwest, the immense concrete slab of Venice Boulevard runs diagonally through some of the least scenic terrain in all of Los Angeles, passing under Interstate 405 and bisecting the Mar Vista neighborhood until it reaches, after seven interminable treeless miles, the freakiest beach in North America where middle-aged men wearing floral pattern Speedos do drug-induced dances on the boardwalk with their 1980s boomboxes pressed to their ears and where thickly muscled acrobats hopping around on pogo sticks mesmerize large crowds of weekend sun-worshipers.  As I boarded the number 33 bus near Culver City I asked the driver, “How long does it take to get to the beach from here?” 

The driver was strangely evasive.   “Uh…maybe…oh…twenty minutes or so,” he said, and I knew he was lying. 

“Really?  But it’s only seven miles away.” 

Standing behind me, swaying back and forth like a deckhand in stormy seas, a stout man of fifty tugged on his stylish el capitán mustache and slurred with indignation, “Twenty fucking minutes, my ass.  We’ll be on this fucking bus for an hour before we get close to the fucking beach.  Twenty minutes.  Fuck.  Ain’t no twenty minutes on this bus.” 

Read the entire story

First Published in Salon

Cleveland's Heart of Darkness:

As a native of Cleveland, I’ve been fascinated, on the one hand, by the city’s desperate, dystopian “Mad Max” hellscape of shuttered warehouses, gruesome rendering plants and rusted iron ore unloaders. It’s a world that still echoes dimly with the cacophonous clanging of ancient machinery and the inferno roar of steel foundries and blast furnaces. On the other hand, there’s the shining modern metropolis that boasts of having one of the world’s great orchestras, a renowned art museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  These disparate worlds can be viewed simultaneously from the observation deck of a building with the inauspicious name Terminal Tower.
While many non-residents are aware that the Cuyahoga, that most notorious of all rivers, vivisects the city into two roughly equal parts — the east and west sides — they may not know that the city is also divided to a certain degree into north and south by Interstate 90. On the north side you will find historic neighborhoods with splendid Victorian-era houses that have undergone the slow but steady process of gentrification, its newly resurfaced streets teeming with award-winning microbreweries, intimate bistros owned by celebrity chefs, trendy nightclubs and quaint thrift shops.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

From Vintage Paperbacks

The Natural Order of Things

Comprised of 15 interconnected stories, The Natural Order of Thingsis properly thought of as a novel in the tradition of Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio or John Steinbeck's The Pastures of Heaven ― but with a gothic sensibility. The novel concerns the adventures and exploits of a small group of students, teachers, employees, and priests at a Jesuit prep school in a dying industrial city. Its stories harbor star quarterbacks who sabotage important games, the head coach with a gambling addiction wagering on his own team, an elderly priest suffering from acute memory loss who dabbles in heretical beliefs, and others who swim against the tides of society's proscribed roles.  "The Black Death of Gentile da Foligno" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by author Thomas E. Kennedy. Another story, "Uncreated Creatures," was nominated for a StorySouth Million Writers Award by the editor of The Stickman Review. A third story, "The Spy" won second prize for the Lorain County/Ohio Arts Council Award, judged by Nancy Zafris, editor of The Kenyon Review.

Publishers Weekly said of The Natural Order of Things in a starred review (October 15): Keating toys with narrative chronology in this debut collection of interwoven stories that follows the lives of several “reprobates who have descended into... Hades.” At the center of an unnamed, ruined city of American industry thrives, tumorlike, a Jesuit high school and the Zanzibar Towers and Gardens, a flophouse where both students and alums slum it with prostitutes. In the opening story, “Vigil,” students have gathered at the Zanzibar to celebrate Halloween and the next day’s big football game with kegs of beer they stole from a senile priest in the final story, “Gehenna,” that was delivered in the second story, “Box,” by the father of star quarterback Frank “the Minotaur” McSweeney. “I’m counting on you. We all are,” says the Minotaur’s father, but the day of the big game, as in all the connected stories, we find out just how big a letdown everyone in this life can be. Story by story, the collection circumnavigates suffering—someone lights the homeless on fire at night; a merchant marine boxes up a man to ship him overseas; priests humiliate and shame their students, while one teacher loves them too much—in a place where most of its inhabitants “would rather gamble on a human life than try to save one."

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Tao of Flitcraft: Some Thoughts on the Ancient Art of the Near-Death Experience

From the December 2011 edition of Blue Lake Review:

There is a private joke among my family (you’ll excuse the redundancy of the expression; the reader will understand that most family jokes are of the “private” variety, but perhaps given the grim circumstances there is special need for emphasis here): I am, they say, the proverbial go-to man when a misfortunate loved one is in immediate need of eulogizing. Certainly I’ve written my fair share of these dismal things except that there is something so manifestly unfair about the solemn, and often gut-wrenching, proceedings that it would probably be more fitting to say that Heaven has blessed me rather inequitably with the honor of having to compose so many of them. But let it not be said that Heaven watches over us without a sense of the sardonic: On Monday, June 27th, the day I normally celebrate my birth, in this case the dreaded 40th (halfway to the finish line, one foot in the grave), I very nearly had the dubious distinction, not to say plain bad luck, of having one of my eulogies read back to me, or at least read back to my horrifically mangled and unrecognizable corpse.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Eyes Wide Shut: Kubrick's Epic of Copulation

From Issue #7 of Mad Hatter's Review:

When director Stanley Kubrick’s final masterpiece Eyes Wide Shut was released posthumously in summer 1999 (shortly before rumors spread that Tom Cruise and a band of disgruntled Scientologists had him “silenced” for what they felt was an unflattering portrayal of their secret society) there was a public uproar over its paradoxically realistic and outlandishly stylized depictions of sexuality. Some critics brazenly dismissed it as “a sex movie made by a dirty old man,” though perhaps madman would have been more apropos, considering Kubrick seems to fit into that category of latter day prophet-philosopher-artist, not unlike Nietzsche and de Maupassant and Schubert, syphilitic geniuses one and all, ironic considering the psycho-sexual themes of the film. Of course there is no evidence that Kubrick contracted much less died of a venereal disease.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Desperation Follies

From the February 2007 edition of Undergound Voices:

Zihuatanejo, Mexico, a once remote fishing village north of Acapulco, has in recent years become a destination for savvy gringos who want to avoid the crowds in the usual tourist spots like Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cozumel and the all-inclusive resorts sprouting up along Baja and the Yucatan. But like those better known places, Zihuatanejo caters mainly to Americans who hesitate to leave the safety and comfort of their hotels and rarefied social circles to wander the narrow, litter-strewn streets of the barrio (think of crushed cans of Tecate and Modelo Especial in the gutters and packs of mangy dogs scampering through the evil-smelling alleys) where portly men in ragged clothes accost you at every turn to buy worthless trinkets. Little wooden lizards painted in the festive colors of the tropics, chess pieces whittled from soapstone that snap in two or disintegrate before you can capture your opponent’s queen, bottles of mescale and absinthe, overpriced Cuban cigars, costume jewelry made of copper and glass. And we must not forget the occasional dope peddler who, with the slightest shift of his eyes, tries to sell you “the real McCoy, and, ah, senor, maybe a pipe for you? hand-carved, eh? do you like the leering skull?” Yes, a sort of Mexican memento mori, a reminder to the hapless tourist that your trip might end in total disaster. “Smoke up, for tomorrow we die.” My trip did coincide after all with the Mexican Day of the Dead.

Read the entire essay

Monday, January 15, 2007

My Summer in an Evangelical Gulag

From the January 2007 edition of Perigee

Lake Cumberland, one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States, stretches along the misty hills and valleys of the notorious bible belt of southern Kentucky near the Tennessee border. There the educated elite, barricaded inside fortified vacation resorts like medieval royalty seeking refuge from marauding barbarians, wile away the hours, boating and fishing and drinking bourbon on the rocks with a practiced air of ennui. Last summer I visited one such resort, and because I quickly grew weary of lounging beside a pool and chasing after my two-year old daughter (a Marie Antoinette in the making), I dared to leave our impregnable compound with its battalion of nervous security guards and journeyed into the heart of darkness where, among the winding roads and four-lane stretches of highway, there raged a cultural conflagration the likes of which I have never seen.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Monsters of Antiquity

From the December 2006 edition of Smokebox:

Like most dreams this one begins in media res.

I was incarcerated in an old industrial complex not unlike those abandoned, asbestos-filled warehouses that crowd the neglected streets and labyrinthine alleys of my hometown Cleveland. Around the crumbling ruin of this makeshift prison stretched an imposing gray wall topped with glimmering razor wire. Rumors circulated that the wall had a secret opening, a small hole just big enough for a man to squeeze through and make his way back home to friends and family. At certain times during the day prisoners were marched outside and permitted to stretch in a narrow concrete pen along the wall, but no one dared search for the opening in broad daylight. Somehow I knew, with the inexplicable logic of all dreams, that this “exercise yard” was frequently used for other, more diabolical things. When the guards informed us that it was time for our daily “exercise,” many of my fellow inmates would turn pale, cling to their cots, kick their legs like small children, scream for mercy.

Read the entire essay

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jazz & Cocktails at the Center of the World

From the November 2006 edition of Fringe Magazine

During a trip to New York City several years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

It happened this way. I was visiting my friends, Kevin and Kathlene, who like thousands of other ambitious twenty-somethings had moved to the city to seek out their fortune, and even though fortune was a little slow in arriving, had in fact been delayed indefinitely, they nevertheless assumed an air of sophistication and decadence. From a distance and in silhouette Kevin and Kathlene looked like those svelte, stiffly posed figures you see in Jazz Age advertisements, all sharp angles and long lines, a man and woman sipping martinis while standing at a penthouse window; a flapper in a sequined dress, a dandy in a tux, templates used by graphic artists who designed the programs for the latest Gershwin or Cole Porter musical. Girl Crazy, Oh, Kay!, Anything Goes. Whenever they were nearby I heard, or at any rate imagined I heard, muted trumpets, saxophones, syncopated rhythms, Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” Ellington at the Cotton Club...

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Review of Paul Auster'sThe Brooklyn Follies

From the spring 2006 edition of Ascent Aspirations:

Paul Auster, now regarded as a major American writer by many critics, ordinarily concerns himself with large, abstract notions of fate, destiny, chance, coincidence and other quasi-mystical matters typically categorized as existential in nature. Auster is, after all, fluent in French and has translated the work of many obscure French poets into English. He may also be the closest thing we have in this country to a café society intellectual. Like some of the better known writers of post-war Paris, Auster examines the dark side of human nature; think of Sartre’s No Exit with its famous adage “Other people are hell” and Camus’ The Stranger with its bleak insight “A man who has lived only one day can easily live for a hundred years in prison. He will have enough memories to keep him from being bored.”

Read the entire review

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ritualized Stupidity: American Schools and the Culture of Vulgarity

From the summer 2006 edition of The Rough Road Review:

Allow me explain why I believe the American education system, at least in its present form, is doomed to extinction (for members of the religious fringe who believe dinosaur bones were placed in the earth to confuse scientists, you may substitute the objectionable Darwinian term “extinction” with something a little more innocuous like “hellfire”).

In his latest tome The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, a book that is impressive for its almost Tolstoyan length as well as its seemingly inexhaustible catalogue of plot summaries, British author and journalist Christopher Booker analyzes hundreds of novels and films and comes to the sad if obvious conclusion that American stories are lacking in themes of individual self-development and growth; the heroes of such stories fail to become fully mature adults capable of functioning in society in humane and meaningful ways and who seem to seek, as the highest prize, “the approbation of the crowd.”

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College, Consumerism and the New Conservative Paradigm

From the May 2006 edition of Raging Face:

America has become a conservative country and will probably remain so for at least one more generation. This has happened because the Republican Party has colonized not only Iraq but also the minds of an entire generation of Americans. The conservative paradigm about patriotism and manifest destiny in the Middle East has wheedled its way into the brains of people who are most susceptible to insipid slogans and sound bites, namely teenagers whose still developing brains somehow subsist on a steady diet of sugar, nicotine, draft beer and FOX's persistent and unapologetic harangues about milquetoast liberals and fags...

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The Diploma Mill

From the Februrary 2006 edition of Identity Theory:

I am an instructor of English at a small, private college near Cleveland, Ohio. With its tree-lined streets, gothic architecture and sprawling quad, the college is an idyllic setting and one that disguises some unsightly truths. Like a Hollywood movie set, the college campus is all artifice, a make-believe world where actors appear for a short time, recite their lines, and then exit the sound stage of higher education forever. I say this because the longer I teach, the more convinced I become that, in general, a college education takes the form of a very predictable and tedious script in which students are asked to memorize material and then regurgitate that material on an exam, after which time they forget everything they’ve just memorized (“learned” would be too hopeful a word), only to repeat the cycle again next semester. After four years of reciting various soliloquies in a plodding monotone, students attend a graduation ceremony that in many respects mimics the Academy Awards except for the fact that everyone, no matter his or her level of competence, is given a diploma from the dean and an ovation from the befuddled professors who seem a bit perplexed by the whole event as if it were some kind of elaborate hoax. There are, of course, many reasons for their stupefaction...

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