HITTING SHELVES #17: Making Nice by Matt Sumell

Making Nice

Making Nice by Matt Sumell comes out today!

It’s a book of stories written in the voice of Alby, a stubbornly violent and hopelessly downtrodden young man who is mourning his mother’s death. Alby is absolutely fantastic — Matt Sumell has created one of the most memorable and pathetic characters in recent contemporary fiction, and his dysfunctional family belongs in the hall of fame for all-time literary train wrecks.

To quote from the book’s only 1-star review on Amazon (which is bullshit, because Making Nice is a 5-star book through and through, but it’s fun to use Amazon reviewers’ ignorance against them), Alby is “a turd… Not to say that the character is wholly unbelievable because I know that there are people exactly like Alby in the world and they are just as stupid.” Yes, exactly!  

We asked the author one question.

How are you celebrating the publication of Making Nice?

Man, I don’t believe in much besides dogs and painkillers—that’s not true, actually, I also believe in snacks. But my sister won’t shut up about this Mercury/Retrograde stuff, and I have to admit that things have definitely not been going my way recently. I got two parking tickets this week, locked myself out of my apartment, and yesterday, when I had to run to the bank to wire some money, my car wouldn’t start. After I had it towed to the shop I hopped on my bicycle, and that had two flats, but I pedaled it the mile and change anyway. Riding your bike in Los Angeles is no joke to begin with, but riding down Sunset all wiggly wobbly at 4 pm is idiotic, and at one point I had to dodge this homeless lady who stepped in front of me who kinda looks like the TV crawler from The Ring—her name is Nancy, I see her all the time—but that was a close one. Horns galore.

Matt Sumell
Matt Sumell

When I finally got to the bank my bike lock key didn’t work, just didn’t open the lock, and at that point I lost it and started smashing the lock on the ground temper-tantrum style in the parking lot, until a woman walked out of the bank doors and saw me flipping out, so I stopped what I was doing—smashing the lock—and said, hi! Cheery as could be. As she hurried off to her car I draped the lock on the handlebars and went inside all-winded, walked up to the window and slid the wire transfer form through the little slit. The dude there—who had a curly-cue mustache I hated—looked at it for two seconds and was like: “A banker has to help you with this.” And I was like, “What are you?” And he was like, “A teller.”

“Got it,” I said.

So I waited there, on a chair, shaking with feelings, for like twenty-something-minutes. And when I finally got in to see the banker-not-teller he was like, “Too late, man, missed the deadline by five minutes.” And I was like you’re kidding. And he said, “Doesn’t matter anyway I can’t accept your ID, it’s expired. Come back tomorrow with your passport.”

Determined to get something done I told him I’d be back in twenty-and-change after I put air in my tires. Only the air pump at the gas station was out of service. So I huffed it back to my apartment on the flats, grabbed my passport, huffed it back to the bank, where we eventually wired the money too late, of course, but it worked out fine anyway because it was there in the morning.

My point, I think—not that I even like points—is that things are getting done, but there’s no ease in any of it. There’s no efficiency. And that’s already extending to my book launch, which is this Friday night, February 13th, at 7:30 pm at Skylight in LA. I was going to do this whole thing with a t-shirt cannon, but apparently shooting someone in the chest from ten feet away with a t-shirt cannon is dangerous. But really, none of this is even the official launch date. The official launch is happening next week, on the 17th, and by then I’ll be in New Orleans, still buried in deadlines, to buy this house—which is what I was trying to wire that money for to begin—right at peak Mardi Gras. So, I guess, that’s how I’ll be spending my official publication day: half drunk, anxious but grateful as hell–to a lot of people—for putting up with me, and making this all possible. Sometimes it’s real hard, because sometimes life is real hard, but I realize how lucky am. I’m incredibly lucky.

Thanks for asking.


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