Whether he’s teaching punk rock history at Tufts, lovingly teasing out the deets of the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime, or weaving an equal parts elegant and gritty tale of New Hampshire have-nots attempting to transcend circumstance in his lovely, affecting Swing State, Michael T. Fournier brings the heavy to his work.
The rising novelist/critic took the hardcore meta to another level with his 2011 novel Hidden Wheel, however, taking the 80 punk rock band from page to stage.
“Hidden Wheel was first: parts of it are loosely based on ten years of living in Boston,” he tells Decibel. “I was thinking about the Singularity a lot at the time, and wanted to use the digital vs. analogue argument as a plot point, so I had a solar flare erase all the world’s hard drives, making vinyl win — again. I was in grad school at the time, reading Bahktin, Faulkner, and Nabakov, so there are elements of each — tons of anagramming, and polyphony/multiple narrative viewpoints.
“Dead Trend started with me walking around the house humming all these stupid hardcore songs I made up for the book. I already had enough guitar to write hardcore songs and learned how to play drums when I was in grad school at UMaine, so I thought it would be fun to try and play 80’s style hardcore with friends. I recruited some dudes form up there — two-thirds of Great Western Plain and my 21-year-old boss from WMEB — and we started playing. It’s a lot of fun. Our tenth show was opening for Mike Watt’s book release in NYC at Le Poisson Rouge, which was a highlight.”
Check it out for yourself here:
“Swing State was originally a light-hearted reflection on living up in Orono — I intended it to be in the John Irving/Richard Russo arena,” he says. “After I toured Hidden Wheel, in 2012, I made an effort to make the new stuff easier for me to read out loud — I did my own ‘HW’ audiobook and read in around 20 cities, and trust me, reading a character whose dialogue is unpunctuated rapid fire was no picnic. With that said, I worked Upward Bound at UMaine for a few summers. The students in the program had — and have — so much adversity to get through, which bled into the writing: one of the main characters lives in a Coover-ish fantasy world where he hosts his own game show; another tries to escape by stealing iPads and whatnot from cars. The tone of the book was also influenced by the death of my mother-in-law, who was diagnosed with cancer in October 2011 and died a few days before Christmas the same year.”