ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Addicts & Basements By Robert Vaughan



Addicts & Basements by Robert Vaughan


Miscommunication and misunderstanding can be an addiction, an albatross dictating the invisible creeds we often cling to. Age, time, desire, lust, and a cacophony of suppressed urges are intimated at in, “The Lost and Erasable Parts of Us: “My identity tied up in a bottle. I craved my smell back, my decency, my shameless will. I grew gills, slithered up the stairs, fettered away, toward some desert city, in undulating waves.” When identity is so intertwined with a bottle, an addiction, or a basement, it’s easy to get lost. In Vaughan’s symphony, those weaknesses are a path back to self-discovery, a melody, however distorted, to guide listeners up into revelation. This isn’t a AAA meeting though as addictions lead to other addictions and there’s no permanent egress, only leaps into oblivion. I’m a Robert Vaughan junkie now. You can find me drowning in his basement.



“Drawing its energy from society’s underbelly—the dim corner booths of bars, the stalls of public bathrooms, the thickets of unkempt parks—Vaughan’s book is part prose poem, part fractured sonnet, part Whitmanian love-cry. ‘What were your last thoughts, Ophelia? Were / you loved enough? Will I ever know when I am?’ When this poet speaks, we are compelled by the plaintive urgency of eros in his voice. On the edge of a low-lit Interstate highway somewhere between Los Angeles and New York City, Addicts & Basements yawps and pivots and veers, praising its own wreckage.”
—Dorianne Laux, author of The Book of Men

“Robert Vaughan’s poems are peopled with painfully human characters, depicted with an unnerving authenticity and irreverent compassion. In ‘Turkey Town,’ a young man working a wedding banquet sneaks out back when the father-of-the-bride dance begins because he misses his own father: ‘The cold hurt my lungs, made it hard to breathe.’ In ‘The Patio,’ patrons are ‘sucking down margaritas’ and ‘gnawing chips’ at an outdoor restaurant when there’s a car crash and they become witnesses to the scene. In ‘Bonus Question,’ a woman calls into a late-night radio quiz, but instead of giving an answer, she asks, ‘Will you love me?’ The deejay is unmoved, but the poet says: ‘Somewhere, lying in the darkness … someone who has never seen her face whispers yes.’ These are poems to break your heart, but Robert Vaughan is always whispering ‘yes.’”
—Ellen Bass, author of The Human Line 

“Robert Vaughan is a voice I am glad to know, and his excellent debut, Addicts & Basements, is a collection full of confidence and startling complexity. Pick it up; you won’t be able to put it down.”
—Gregory Sherl, author of The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail


Publishing Information

Paperback: 142 pages
Publisher: Civil Coping Mechanisms; 1st edition
Release Date: February 1, 2014
Price: 13.99
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937865231
ISBN-13: 978-1937865238
Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.3 inches



Discussion Questions

1) Whose writing does Vaughan’s remind you of?
2) Many of Vaughan’s pieces contain dark references or situations (pathos). Why do you think this happens in his work?
3) Do you feel that his cover(s) relate to the material in his collection?
4) Any favorite characters? Any you might want to see return in a longer piece of his?
5) Can you speak to the three sections included in the book: Addicts, &, Basements?
6) Vaughan crosses the lines between prose and poetry. Can you speak to his tendency to include both in Addicts & Basements?
7) There is a quirkiness or an abstract element in many of Vaughan’s pieces. Choose one poem and elaborate on this part of Vaughan’s writing.



Robert Vaughan leads writing roundtables at Redoak Writing. His writing has appeared in hundreds of print and online journals. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee. His story, “Ten Notes to the Guy Studying Jujitsu” was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award 2013. His story “The Rooms We Rented” was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award 2014. He is senior flash fiction editor at JMWW and Lost in Thought magazines. His chapbooks are Microtones (Cervena Barva) and Diptychs Triptychs (Deadly Chaps). His first full- length book is Addicts and Basements (Civil Coping Mechanisms).


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Eckleburg is a print and online literary journal that offers original fiction, poetry, essays, music, art, writing workshops and more.

5 Replies to “ECKLEBURG BOOK CLUB | Addicts & Basements By Robert Vaughan”

      1. Robert V., I saw your post on Methew W. Shepard and truth is that he is not the saint his famly and friends make him out to be-he was a junky who associated with drug dealers and possibly a drug dealer/courier himself and when Methew W. Shepard was 15 years old, he was arrested for molesting 8 year old boys which he got counseling for, so Methew W. Shepard’s a child molester. A when a weak answer homosexual groups give when you discuss Book of Matt is to link to MediaMatters. Daily Kos, Huffington Post and MediaMatters are pro-homosexual rubbish.

        Shepard Foundation, Laramie Project and Judy L. Shepard all are apologists for child molestation when the molestation is homosexual. No, Stephen Jimenez does not know everything. Sheriff O’Malley and Undersheriff R.J. DeBree also do not know everything-they did not investigate Methew W. Shepard’s past and they can not comment on Methew W. Shepard’s association with drug dealers because they did not investigate witnesses.

        The journalists who critique Stephen Jimenez do not know everything as the journalists did not interview the witnesses who Stephen Jimenez did. Stephen Jimenez did a 13 year investigation & he reached his conclusions after interviewing them. Some of the witnesses are anonymous as some worked in law enforcement and some are criminals who chose to remain anonymous as they do not want to incriminate themselves, but there are also drug dealers such as Mark K. Rohrbacher who chose to identify themselves.

        Sometimes, investigations require testimony from criminals. Of course the witnesses who Stephen Jimenez are not likely to know everything about Methew W. Shepard, but there are things they saw which can not be dismissed. Let’s look @ what we do know about Methew W. Shepard. No matter why the murder happened, the idea that A.J. McKinney and Methew W. Shepard were strangers who did not know eachother until that day is rubbish. There are many witnesses-Doc O’ Connor’s ex girlfriend, Elaine Baker (bartender), M.K. Rohrbacher (drug dealer), Tristan (Ted) Henson (Methew W. Shepard’s former lover) & others who saw them together.

        Even if 1 believes the murder was motivated by hatred of homosexuals, it is truth that A.J. McKinney and Methew W. Shepard knew eachother though A.J. McKinney denies it. There are too many witnesses who saw both men together. Of course the witnesses can only say they saw them together and can not know it all.

        Methew W. Shepard associating with drug dealers in both Wyoming and Colorado is not disputable. Methew W. Shepard went into bars where drugs were sold and he did associate with drug dealers-we know that he went to bars named Tornado, Ranger, Library & other bars in Wyoming and Colorado where drugs were sold. Methew W. Shepard’s friend Tina LaBrie expressing concerns about Methew W. Shepard’s drug and $ problems. We know that Methew W. Shepard was having $ problems (spending so much on limosuine rides in Doc O’ Connor’s limousine).

        Methew W. Shepard’s a junky (proven fact), drunkard and had money problems. Sheriff O’Malley has said that if Methew W. Shepard sold drugs, the cops would have known which is dishonest-Sheriff David S. O’Malley and Sgt. R.J. DeBree know cops don’t always catch all the criminals and that many drug dealers escape detection. Sheriff David S. O’Malley and Sgt. Robert J. DeBree have arrested drug dealers and they know how it’s the family and friends who get surprised after they learn some1 they know is a drug dealer.

        Sheriff David S. O’Malley and Sgt. Robert J. DeBree know that it’s unlikely MW. Shepard told his friends and family that he was a drug dealer, and even if Methew W. Shepard did tell his friends and family that he sold drugs, don’t think his family will admit this ugly as they had tried to hide the fact that Methew Wayne Shepard molested 8 year old boys and got counseling.

        Now was Methew W. Shepard’s assocation with drug dealers and going into bars where drugs were sold more than buying drugs ? Was Methew W. Shepard a drug dealer or a drug courier? Stephen Jimenez thinks so and he believes it was the Denver circle. The journalists who critique Stephen Jimenez can not prove or disprove Stephen Jimenez’s conclusion.

        No, Stephen Jimenez does not know it all but his conclusions are sincere and honest. While homosexual groups complain about Stephen Jimenez saying the murder case is complicated and possibly not a hate crime, that is incidental-main reason homosexual groups are offended by Stephen Jimenez’s book is because he talked about the ugly truths about who M.W. Shepard was. You don’t always know the secrets friends and family have. If a person is a drug dealer, then they are usually not going to tell their friends and family that they do this.

        Even if Metthew W. Shepard did tell his friends and family that he sold drugs, don’t think his family will admit this ugly truth about him, as they had tried to hide the fact that Methew Wayne Shepard molested 8 year old boys and got counseling for it. Laramie Project, Shepard Foundation & Big Island Chronicle Tiffany Camille Hunt sees nothing wrong with Methew W. Shepard selling drugs and molesting children so their view is rubbish.

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