The Last Estate

American Underground Literature Scene Report Inside of Los Angeles and Small Part Minnesota by Candle Shaster – The Last Estate

American Underground Literature Scene Report Inside of Los Angeles and Small Part Minnesota by Candle Shaster

Hello! My name is Candle Shaster, new “creative reporter” for The Last Estate. For beginnings, here are some things: I am from Tokyo, Japan. But today, I live in Los Angeles. I enjoy rockabilly music, cheeseburgers, Marilyn Monroe, science fiction and modern American literature. I wear so many Murray’s in my hair, I slide when I walk; like a Gumby show. Ha!


(I am partly betraying your trust: my real name is Hibiki Kaneko. When moving to Los Angeles, I made a game to reinvent myself. I picked the most American name I could think: Candle Shaster, name of the tough guy in Harlan Ellison’s first novel “Web of the City,” best street gang story to be from Brooklyn, New York. But look now and consider—here I am in Los Angeles!)


Imagine my joy to Gabriel Hart permission of my feet in the water, to write this essay on the reading hosted Sunday at Stories Books in Echo Park: The Last Estate Presents! Featuring these underground writers: James Nulick, Grant Wamack, Adam Johnson (he is from Minnesota!) and Linda Ravenswood. Oh! And of course, Gabriel Hart, the host! 

Where are my thoughts? First, was Gabriel Hart. He nicknamed himself “sacrificial lamb” to start the show. Hart read a very exciting story about cocaine, Mexican gangster, and white people called “Crossing Alvarado.” It is featured story in Rock and a Hard Place, issue 6. When I told him I enjoyed the story, he started to say it was proposed Best American Mystery and Suspense, but then quieted himself, shaking his head. He said he felt sad tonight because his friend Lizzie was on program to participate, but she is now deceased. 


Next on the stage was Linda Ravenswood, a poet who created cold temperature in the courtyard. Her poem was told of an unfortunate girl with no arms, begging for help. Did anyone ever help her, I wondered? When I asked Linda what happened to the girl, she said she is still alive. And, also married! Even though it’s just a poem, it was so good that I still think about the girl today. 


I hoped in my heart so that Grant Wamack would not remind us about dead girls. He didn’t! Instead he read of his new book Black Gypsies, and drove a nighttime car ride through the dark streets of Chicago. They stole a car and found money! The police did not arrest when they saw the gym bag,” instead telling “Gordo” to use it because he is fat. 


Adam Johnson is always from Minneapolis! He comes to L.A. very much for the reading in a premium grey suit. Before he performed, he told Gabriel Hart “Don’t tell audience I am a criminal defense lawyer, people hate lawyers.” He read from his new book Cialis! Verdi! Gin! Jag! and many people laughed. Also, many people felt discomfort. He said, “I think that’s enough for now!”


For the very last but not first, James Nulick was the best. Gabriel curled his fingers, told me he was an “elder statesman” of the American underground literature. Dropping night, Nulick heard this and felt a shyness about his age. Despite this, Nulick is talented with great passion and remarkable suffering, a story called “Doe” from his new book “Lazy Eye” from Expat Press, my favorite. No dead women this time, only dead babies, but Nulick appeared mad about the dead baby.


And when I thought it was finished, Gabriel introduced me to his deceased friend Lizzie’s father, also named James! An honor. I tried to feel her spirit though him, but instead, I learned he remembered how to smile again, sometimes. 


Until next time! xoxo Your friend, Candle (single, much dripping, because The Spiciest Flame!)

Candle Shaster

Candle Shaster is the new boy in Los Angeles, from Japan. He likes rockabilly, cheeseburgers, Marilyn Monroe, and Modern Underground American Literature. But I have deceived your trust again, I live at Last Estate! (and birthname: Hibiki Kaneko)