Okay I'm sorry but I lurk on your blog cause awesome tags and awesome stuff and I saw that with a Night Vale thing you put 'Southwestern Gothic' and recently I wondered if that was a legit thing and I'd like to talk about it with someone to figure out what southwestern gothic would be in comparison to southern gothic? B/c I only know a little bit of southern gothic and I'm trying to figure out what southwestern gothic would be and it's hard.
anon this is such a good question and i’m gonna preface answering it with two things:
firstly, i am not familiar with southern gothic except generally (i’ve read truman capote, tennessee williams, harper lee, etc; southern gothic interests me but it’s not my #1 priority) and i probably shouldn’t use the term “southwestern gothic” because i’m really not capable of talking about it “in comparison”
secondly, like. i don’t live in the southwest. i grew up in the bay area and moved to new york city. i’m p dang familiar with the southwest— or at least the californian bits of it— but i don’t live there.
that said, here is a thing that i want: an entire genre of people writing surreal and freakyodd and fantastical and strange stories set in california and nevada and arizona and new mexico and texas, because, like, dude
and here are some things i would want out of that aesthetic:
first, because of a really really really facepalm-filled experience with an author from brooklyn trying to write a mexican kid in a manuscript yesterday: get your mexican culture right. you can’t write the southwest without writing about the influence of mexico (and, to a lesser extent, the rest of central and south america). 75% of place names are in spanish and most people speak at least a little conversational spanish. the hispanic population is high. there is a shitton of mexican food (and that doesn’t mean hard-shelled tacos, dude, it means soft corn tortillas and green salsa and horchata and jarritos and fuckin’ lengua and a shitton of really good rice.) old missions built by the spanish, houses with red roofs in the spanish/mexican style, catholic churches. this was mexican territory for a long time and it oughta look that way.
on that note: huge native american influence, huge native american presence. go and look at a map of reservations in the u.s., take a good look at arizona. there should be native american names for things, there should be native americans. (there should be petroglyphs! petroglyphs are cool.)
to a lesser extent: ghost towns, there should be hella ghost towns, there should be the imprints of spanish cowboys and outlaws and tall tales (think more pecos bill than paul bunyan obviously)
everything should be too big; everything should take a little too long to get to. everyone should drive absolutely everywhere. the sky should be too blue and go on forever, in a way that’s half liberating and half terrifying, and there should be too many stars.
la la la, empty and forbidding desert, spectacularly beautiful sunsets, mesas, long empty roads, la la la, you know this shit
(purple and orange and gold, please, with lots of neon)
nighttime is warm and dry and there’s a hot wind blowing and it’s great; sometimes there are rainstorms and then there are flash floods and it’s terrifying and still great
there are roughly 30000 local attractions called “devil’s x” (devil’s marsh, devil’s kitchen, devil’s gate, devil’s windpipe, devil’s golf course) so like c’mon people who write religious shit get your asses over here, the devil lives in the southwest and he is having fun
nothing is tired, nothing is sick. everything is speed. the past doesn’t weigh on you; the past might not even be real. there’s a lot of dust, but none of it’s settled. the desert is full of ghosts but there isn’t any haunting.
okay like for the record i love saguaros too but they only grow in arizona and some parts of california, friend, please consider prickly pears and joshua trees and cholla cactus, i believe in you
i am no longer interested in chupacabras. please stop talking about chupacabras. talk about coyote. coyote is cool. jackalopes: also nice.
whenever i’m sad i like to imagine what possible crime Steve Irwin’s ancestor committed to warrant him being sent to Australia like some Victorian gentleman escorting a lady to the zoo past the crocodile enclosure and going “do you see that great wyrm sunning itself there? quite a striking creature, is it not? I do believe I shall engage it in fisticuffs.”