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DISMAY AS REVELATION: CHRISTOPHER MERKNER with Matt Bell

Christopher Merkner is the author of the story collection The Rise and Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic (Coffee House Press, 2014). His work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Cincinnati Review, Fairy Tale Review, Gettysburg Review, New Orleans Review, and Best American Mystery Stories, and he teaches creative writing at West Chester University. The stories in his debut collection are formally playful in their interrogation of Midwestern privilege and parental prerogatives, each rendering the familiar strange again so that we might see it anew.

Echoes and Traces

For more than 60 years, The Great Gatsby has been required reading for most high school students. It has been adapted into six film versions. Thousands upon thousands of pages have been written about the book and its author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. So it is fair to assume that most Americans have at least a passing familiarity with the story.

Second Life

Peter Steiner’s famous cartoon in which one dog, sitting at a computer, says to another, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” addresses the anonymity the Internet affords and the identities one can perform.

SUBTERRANEAN FRESHNESS
Rane Arroyo and His Poems

In 1936, the great Spanish poet Miguel Hernández wrote: I am tired of so much pure and minor art . . . I don’t care for the puny voice that goes in ecstasy standing before a poplar, that fires off four little verses and believes that now everything has been done in poetry.

Stardust Memory

Ever since I first saw Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17 (1953) and became addicted to re-runs of Hogan’s Heroes (1965 – 71) during my early youth in Los Angeles, I’ve been intrigued by prisoner-of-war stories, comic and heroic alike.

“News” Under the Sun

Sometimes it seems that the only media consumers left are fellow journalists. How else to explain the miles of newsprint devoted to the next longform feature magazine, or the proliferating “media” staff reporter positions at respected publications, or the podcasts and blogs whose sole subject is The Media and its major players?

The Author Would Go On To Repeat Herself

The preface to Susan Cheever’s biography of Edward Estlin Cummings made me want to read the whole book. She begins by describing the time the poet came to speak at her school, where Cheever was “a miserable 14-year-old sophomore with failing grades.”

The Incidental Physicists

In The Accidental Universe, the MIT physicist and lauded novelist explores the universe in a scant collection of imaginative essays.

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MAR 2014

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