“I regret it all…This stinking-ass Cookie Monster costume. My job.” From “The Party” at Joyland South.
Who He Is
RION AMILCAR SCOTT (@ReeAmilcarScott on Twitter) has contributed to PANK, Fiction International, The Rumpus, and Confrontation, among others. He earned an MFA at George Mason University and presently teaches English at Bowie State University. That’s just some facts. Scott has many bios (he’s even made a story of his many bios). But bios are just stories. Scott lives in and writes about Cross River, Maryland, which is entirely Scott’s. You can read about the history of Cross River in his interview at Specter Magazine or in his stories.
Why You Should Read Him
Because you’re tired of seeing/reading the same people, the same stories over and over. The people of Rion Amilcar Scott’s world are people who share our cities, but for most of this country, for white people like me, they may as well be on another planet, in a science fiction story. Because our worlds are kept carefully separate. But Scott’s people do not stay in their place, they will burn themselves into you and you’ll find yourself thinking about them all the time. Rion Amilcar Scott writes people, not characters. There’s a difference and it’s the stuff of worlds.
Scott’s taking the hard road to bring us some necessary truths. About race, class, and masculinity and the sometimes toxic and sometimes beautiful places where these intersect. Whether he’s writing about teenagers playing basketball haunted by a crackhead with a complicated, tragic past; a suicidal professor and the man who saved him; an ‘interview’ with R. Kelly; or wolves (lots of wolves), Rion Amilcar Scott is telling so many stories within stories, people hiding within people (the past that shapes us, revealed).
The easy, rote stories we have for people, the categories we’ve accepted for them and ourselves (crackhead, professor, criminal, cashier, crazy, thug), are carefully stripped and stripped again to reveal the violence we’ve done just by never questioning them. Scott’s people surprise us, each other, themselves. Many of Scott’s stories takes place in fictional Cross River, Maryland and I couldn’t help thinking about the Baltimore and Ferguson protests as I read them, the violence being done to people like those in Scott’s stories by police in the streets, by ‘experts’ and politicians on the news. When I see images from the protests, I can see Rashid, Casey, Ricca, and Kwayku there and even Joan Santi. They are all just trying to tell their stories, their humanness to us, to each other. Scott is writing them in all their complexity and beauty, vulnerability and ferocity back into the world where we desperately need them.
Where to read his work
“Bitches” at Pank.
“A Friendly Game” at Specter.
“Numbers” in Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History (amazon link)
“Teen Wolf” at Sundog Lit.
“The Party” at Joyland South.
“Peter and the Wolves” at Akashic Books.
“A Rare and Powerful Employee” at Bartelby Snopes.
“Wolfland” at matchbook.
“WOLF STORIES WE TOLD THAT MAY NOT BE TRUE” at Specter.
“Teen Wolf Too” at Used Furniture Review.
“Them Wolfs Who Laugh Like Hyenas” at Safety Pin Review.
“David Sherman, The Last Son of God” at Midnight Breakfast.
“THE ETIQUETTE OF POLICE BRUTALITY: AN AUTOPSY” at As It Ought To Be.
“This is My Story and I’m Sticking to It, and I’m Sticking to It”: R. Kelly in His Own Words” at The Toast/The Butter.
“Seven April Fools’ Jokes for a Fun and Happy Marriage” at The Toast/The Butter.
“Some Thoughts On YOLO” at The Toast/The Butter.
“Slave, Please” at Pank.