Author Dossier 8: Joseph Scapellato

It’s a good day for a dossier. This week, Joseph Scapellato explores warmth as weapon, lakes as life source, and bread as backbone.

Joseph was born in the suburbs of Chicago and earned his MFA in Fiction at New Mexico State University. Currently he teaches English/Creative Writing at Susquehanna University and Bucknell University. His work appears in Kenyon Review Online, Post Road, Gulf Coast, Unsaid, The Collagist, and others– like Artifice 4!

1. Preferred type of apocalypse (plague, nuclear holocaust, ice age, etc.): 

Displeased creator-god.  Specifically when the source of the deity’s displeasure is not mankind’s disobedience, impiety, or cruelty, but merely mankind’s inability to function properly. People made of mud who melt.  People made of matches who burn.  People made of mouths who eat each other up.

2. Preferred post-apocalyptic city: 

Chicago, the big-shouldered hog-butchering windy mecca of the Midwest.  There are many reasons to live in Chicago (here are the personal ones: I was born in the suburbs, have lived in Chicago, have loved Chicago, still love Chicago, want to be in Chicago right now, and look forward to Michael Czyzniejewski’s Chicago Stories), but in an apocalypse, when many will go thirsty, those reasons become one reason: the Great Lakes.

3. Preferred anti-zombie weapon: 

Campfire.  Stories, woodsmoke, and whiskey.

4. Top five necessities to bring to the fallout shelter: 


dried sausages from every culture in the world that produces dried sausages

Settlers of Catan


(this is so corny but I’m so serious) friendship

5. Describe said fallout shelter: 

As much like the hollowed-out skull of an ancient giant as possible.  With couches.

6. Who would be in your post-apocalyptic gang?

My Chicago chombattas (especially Slicer Miller and Mr. D), Dustyn Martincich, JJ Turowski, Misty Bags, Little-Man-With-Hair-All-Over, Antonya Nelson, and Odysseus.

7. You’re the new charismatic leader of a cult of your choosing. What do you wear to your first meeting? 

A moustache for my moustache.

8. Spirit guide?

Bread.  If a day goes by that I don’t eat bread, my soul gets stale.  Then powdery.  How on earth did we discover bread, a substance so strange, ordinary, and essential?  Bread.  PaneChleb.  It’s my favorite food and my favorite smell and maybe even my favorite feeling.  I’m no good at making it but it’s damn good at making me.

9. If you had to eat another author (in Artifice 4 or otherwise) who would it be and why? 

In Artifice 4: Melissa Goodrich.  As if it isn’t enough for her work to be so thoroughly beautiful, every time, her last name also happens to sound like a wholesome candy bar.

Or Otherwise: Russell Hoban.  When you take a swing at The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, good stuff falls out.  Different good stuff each time.  But always good to eat.

Or Otherwise: Evan Lavender-Smith, whose work has head and heart and is generous with both.  David Foster-Wallace said in an interview that “a lot of the avant-garde has forgotten that part of its job is to seduce the reader into being willing to do the hard work.”  Mr. Lavender-Smith has not forgotten.

10.  Some say a planet called ‘Nibiru’ will collide with the earth in December 2012. Tell us about Nibiru. 

Nibiru, like most Babylonians, follows Hammurabi’s Code.  This means that if Nibiru grows a beard, Nibiru’s beard is curly.  This means that if Nibirub builds a house and the house collapses and crushes its residents to death, Nibiru will be put to death, death by crushing.  This means that if Nibiru is smart, which Nibiru is, Nibiru is afraid.

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