How the Sun Shines on Noise

Matthew Deshe Cashion



   Leo Gray works in a North Carolina toll booth, where he happily reads the world’s great The World’s Great Thinkers—Rousseau’s Contract, Hegel’s History, Marx’s Manifesto; Schopenhauer, Heidegger, Nietzsche—the Transcendentalists, the French poets, the Modernists, and the Beats. Everything is dandy. . . . But then his social worker girlfriend convinces him to turn upwardly mobile, and Leo gets a job writing for a weekly newspaper on the coast of his home state Georgia. Sounds great, right? But his two bosses are named, ahem, Big Dick and Little Dick Taylor. And his girlfriend refuses to relocate with him, since she’s taken on another down-and-out lover, “a stroke victim in his sixties struggling to relearn the alphabet.” In hopes of transforming yet another loser? Leo wonders.

            This novel offers an unusual comic take of a man on the skids, a wildly sardonic ride that teeters on a great deal of darkness but manages to pull through in a fashion worthy of any smiling anti-hero who alternately fights himself and the surrounding ring-a-ding complacency.


ISBN, trade paper: 1-931982-38-4, $14.95              Sale $7.50

ISBN, library edition: 1-931982-37-6, $25.00          Sale $12.50

About the Author: 

Matthew Cashion was born in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and grew up in Brunswick, Ga.  He earned a master of fine arts degree from the University of Oregon. His first novel, How the Sun Shines on Noise will be published Fall, 2004, by Livingston Press, in conjunction with the University of West Alabama.  The novel was a finalist, among 400 manuscripts, in the 2003 William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition co-sponsored by The Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society and The Mary Freeman Wisdom Foundation based in New Orleans, La.  Cashion has also published short stories in a number of national literary magazines.  He has worked (in this order): on a tobacco farm, as a short-order cook, in fast-food, at a video store, in an airport tollbooth, as a door-to-door environmental fundraiser, at a chemical plant (now an EPA superfund site), in construction, as an AM disc jockey, as a waiter, as a third-shift convenience store clerk, as a blood donor (part-time), and as a bartender.  He has also been an AP award-winning journalist, and he has taught literature and fiction writing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  He is currently employed at Mitchell Community College, in Statesville, North Carolina, where he teaches composition, literature, film studies, and creative writing. 

 Excerpt from the Book:

   Oyster shells covered the parking lot, and palm trees bordered the doors; gold calligraphy centered on the doors read: “Coastal Georgia Sun, OUR family dedicated to yours.”  I wondered if anyone saw me through the blackened glass. I wondered if my nervousness was noticeable.  Wondered this too often. It made me nervous. Went in anyway. Inside, three old ladies sat in the dusky light beneath an “Advertising” sign. They didn’t seem to notice me. Noticed then that I often went unnoticed, and that I didn’t mind it. Smelled their hairspray mixing with mildewed newspapers and wet ink. Three Teddy Roosevelt look-alikes hung in picture frames from faded paneling. Someone in the distance smoked a cigar. A lady in advertising said, “I like mine on a bed of rice.”
    Descended the wooden staircase in the corner, and landed in a basement. A single fluorescent light fixture hung from chains in the center of the room and jaundiced every face and piece of furniture. An elderly woman slouched at the nearest desk, gray eyes swimming in opposite directions behind thick bifocals. To my right, four desks faced a urine-colored wall, three of them occupied by good-postured workers: an energetic man in his early twenties, a stout man in his fifties, and a hyper woman in her forties. They talked too loudly into their phones and typed too quickly on their keyboards. Certificates hung above their desks. Above the hyper woman’s desk was taped this bumper sticker: “Have you prayed for a law officer today?”
Stood in the center of the room, put my hands in my pockets and pulled them out again. No one noticed. Eased toward an office in the corner, kept my feet outside and stuck my head inside.  A small man sat on a pillow, drawing squares and rectangles on a piece of paper. Didn’t know what to say, or the tone to use, or when to interrupt, so I cleared my throat.
    He raised a pair of small red eyes to me, staring intently for several seconds...