The Fortnightly Review (London) is currently publishing James Gallant's essays and short fiction on a regular basis under the rubric, "Verisimilitude: essays and approximations." Published pieces are at http://fortnightlyreview.co.uk/tag/james-gallant/.
Award-winning novelist Mary Hood’s recommendation of James Gallant’s first novel, The Big Bust at Tyrone’s Rooming House: a Novel of Atlanta (2004) read: “Serious comedy is the hardest way to tell the truth. Gallant makes it easy to read."
Hood’s statement would apply equally well to Gallant’s second comic novel forthcoming from Vagabondage Press, Whatever Happened to Debbie and Phil?—differences between the two works’ settings and concerns notwithstanding.
The Big Bust was written out of Gallant’s personal experience in Atlanta where he lives. The novel dealt with a situation common in the older American inner-city neighborhoods of our time: confrontations between incoming, home-restoring, middle class people, and entrenched poor, sometimes criminalized, populations.
The action in Whatever Happened to Debbie and Phil? takes place, instead, in small town Ohio and Indiana amid various celebrations of the Ohio Bicentennial during a summer weekend of 2003. (A train of mule-driven Conestoga wagons is lumbering across Ohio over old federal route 40. There is a small town parade, a “frontier wedding,” a Civil War reenactment, and an “Old-Time Baseball game.”) Meanwhile a family reunion of the often-intermarrying Noland and the Outerbridge families is in progress at Neville, Ohio. A marriage between the title’s Debbie and Phil scheduled for the weekend in Neville does not occur when the bride and groom vamoose in different directions at the last moment.
Familial and communal rituals in the novel hang loosely around the actual lives of characters. That this is a situation attractive to occult influences is a theme of Gallant’s not only in this novel and his other fiction, but in essays such as “The Humiliating UFOS” (published by Raritan magazine in 2013 and available online currently through EBSCOhost) and “Materializations” (published online in 2015 and archived by Fortnightly Review, London).
Jeffrey Kripal, author of Authors of the Impossible: the Paranormal and the Sacred writes of Debbie and Phil, “I know James Gallant mostly as an essayist writing about some of the most intellectually challenging and inherently fascinating subjects imaginable: the UFO phenomenon, occult materializations and the like. The present novel displays in graphic and entertaining form what he has long argued in more linear and rational venues--namely, that invasions of occult influences that become especially likely in disorderly societies like our own—in the gaps, in the interstices of what we think of as the real but which is in fact a social construction, and a wobbly one at that.”
Gallant’s stories and essays have appeared, or will soon appear, in magazines, including The Georgia Review, Epoch, Massachusetts Review, Story Quarterly, Mississippi Review, Exquisite Corpse, North American Review, Witness, The Chattahoochee Review, The Writing Disorder, and Aji.
Click HERE to read an interview with Gallant in the Chattahoochee Review.
A native of Ohio, and a graduate of Denison University and the University of Minnesota, James Gallant has lived in the South for over thirty years with his wife, Romantics scholar Christine Gallant, author of critical studies of Blake, Shelley, Keats, and Carl Jung.