Rookie Report: Paul Kwiatkowski
Paul Kwiatkowski | And Every Day Was Overcast
Black Balloon Publishing | October 2013
I don’t have time to read most of the books we receive for the Rookie Report. Sometimes these are books I have heard about through word of mouth, or discovered while scouring Publisher’s Weekly and control+Fing for the word “debut.” Other times books just show up on the doorstep of our headquarters, sent by publishers who know how much we love promoting debuts. Once a month or so, I shuffle recycled grocery backs full of books from there to my less-than-spacious apartment where stacks of them rise from the floor, waiting to be skimmed, scheduled, assigned homes, and—perhaps—read.
My most recent bag of books included a beautifully hefty text, full of color photographs and smelling of the insides of art books you’d browse through in a museum gift shop. This was Paul Kwiatkowski’s And Every Day Was Overcast—an intimate and nostalgic illustrated novel that reads like the poetic incarnation of a shoebox of old photographs. I began paging through, and an unclocked amount of time passed before I realized I had read half the book. At that point, one just stretches further into the couch and keeps going.
The text comes in brief narrative spurts, interspersed with series of candid photographs that sort of illustrate the story and sort of don’t, meaning you can choose to see what you want to see. What they do illustrate is the restlessness of adolescence and the exquisite decay of South Florida. I was particularly drawn to photos depicting weathered housing, abandoned cars sinking into the soft earth, bare dirt roads leading into some American past. In between chapters are “Transmissions”—terse story interludes that feel as though they were lifted from the middle of an accidentally overheard conversation. I found myself lingering on these pages, staring into the photos, wanting to locate a wider glimpse of the shards of life these stories flashed at me. Not until I reached the end did I return to find that one of the epigraphs is a quote pulled from The Neverending Story: “Don’t let the sadness of the swamps get to you.”
I read Kwiatkowski’s book in one sitting because I could, and because I could not put it down.
Late Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.
Paul Kwiatkowski: Kid tested, mother approved.
LNL: If this book were the lovechild of two others, who are its parents?
PK: Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
LNL: What ingredients go into the recipe of your writing style?
PK: One dash of Adderall, a half of PB & J, a heaping handful of Healthy ChoiceBeef Lo Mein, applesauce dusted with Ambien, washed down with one 20oz Bacardi Breezer (two straws).
LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.
PK: Cows by Matthew Stokoe.
LNL: Answer a question you wish people would ask you about writing.
Q: ____ _____
A: Hey buddy my eyes are up here.
Get a copy of And Every Day Was Overcast from andeverydaywasovercast.com.
Paul Kwiatkowski is a New York-based writer and photographer. His work has appeared in numerous outlets, including Juxtapoz, Beautiful Decay, American Suburb X, and LPV Magazine. Kwiatkowski was born in Jersey City, NJ and grew up in South Florida during the 1990s. He studied at Tufts University and The Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as at F + F School for Art in Zurich, Switzerland. Visit paulkmedia.com and follow Paul on Twitter @XOPK.