Books

In Conversation

RISING TO THE OCCASION:
PETER STRAUB with Joseph Salvatore

By the time I encountered Raymond Carver’s Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories, in 1989, I’d already seen many of his stories in various magazines, books, anthologies—even on faded photocopies of copies of copies that my fiction teachers regularly taught from in class.

Death Sentences

Since 1972, land artist Michael Heizer has been constructing a vast complex of clean concrete slabs and burial mounds, or tumuli, in the high desert of Nevada. Monumental, but lacking any obvious purpose, Heizer’s City seems destined to confound generations of observers.

Far-Flung Correspondent

Second novels are difficult, especially if an author has had the good fortune of a well-received first novel. However, unlike the first book, which an author has been working on (intentionally or not) for a lifetime, the next book has a much shorter production timeline, as well as the built-in anxiety that accompanies much higher expectations.

The Gray Scale

The abandoned apartment building on East Tyler Street in the Barrio Buena Vida neighborhood of Brownsville, Texas, is a place of constant local conversation and consideration because of a violent crime that occurred under its roof. This is saying something.

Sweet Nothings

I have very few memories before the age of thirteen, but one is of my first celebrity crush: Bill Clinton. I remember sitting on the couch in our living room in New Hampshire, watching Clinton on TV and thinking, He is speaking to me.

A CLERK IN THE HOUSE OF POETRY
from Bagging the Beats at Midnight, a bookstore memoir in progress

There was a moment late in the first decade of the 21st century when people talked a lot about the death of the paper book and the death of bookstores.

In Conversation

SHE CORRECTED IN RED INK
A New Literary Series for Women Writers Launches at Brooklyn’s BookCourt
MICHELE FILGATE with Joseph Salvatore

Red Ink is a new quarterly literary series centered around women writers, past and present. It’s inspired by this Virginia Woolf quote from Mrs Dalloway: “He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink”

In Conversation

Poetry Journal RHINO Turns Forty
RALPH HAMILTON with Chris Campanioni

Evanston-based international poetry journal RHINO turns forty this month, and co-founder Ralph Hamilton’s recent collection, Teaching a Man to Unstick His Tail (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015) is as much about endurance as it is about reconsidering the elegy. Hamilton’s version suggests that loss is not always tragic, and this intermeshing between possession and absence drives the work toward a question that curtails itself through its own arrangement: “what would we say if / we had something / to say? A storm.”

In Conversation

That Fine Line Between Goodness and Brutality
LEE MARTIN with John Dufresne

Lee Martin and I met in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where we were the two fiction writers accepted into the MFA program at the university that year. I had never taken a creative writing class, and Lee had taken one, I think. We shared the same TA office with five other aspiring writers, the only non-smoking office in Kimpel Hall. I took an accelerated path through the program, carrying full loads each summer, and left before Lee did, as I remember it.

In Conversation

Reframing the Death of Art:
CHRIS CAMPANIONI with Giancarlo Lombardi

Campanioni re-evaluates intimacy and narcissism in 2016—not just its mode and function, but how we think about and value each—and he does so in unexpected and unusual ways. Much of the book, and his writing as a whole, reflects and re-frames a continuously shifting Brooklyn, which is where we’re meeting today (under the Brooklyn Bridge) to discuss the changing landscape of art, inside and outside of the text.

Catching up with the Lovable Losers

When Ford Madox Ford wrote, “This is the saddest story I’ve ever heard” he was wrong. When he wrote that, he couldn’t have known about the Replacements either, so we have to give him a pass. Still, almost a century after he opened his novel about a soldier’s fall-apart life with that line, the historical record needs to be corrected: the saddest story ever is the story about Minnesota’s greatest band, the Replacements.

In Conversation

BOY PROBLEMS
ALEXANDRA NAUGHTON with Catch Business

In the same style as her previous work, Alexandra Naughton’s immediate, breathy voice “laps up the mundane” as though it were alive, as though products had hearts and processed food had lungs. Like if shops were castles and the mirror a portal. Often American Mary feels more fantasy than memoir although I think it has a bit of both. I think the book is incredibly accurate in its synesthesia, instead of the senses, of life and product—almost the opposite of personification? We relate more to the products around than they do to us, let’s be honest.

Open to the What-If

One solid reason for choosing to review books is for the possibility of being blown completely back in your chair on getting a book you didn’t see coming. The frequency of this occurrence isn’t of course all that great: lots of times the books that hit real hard send their own little tremors forward, warnings like those that precede earthquakes though, certainly, some of this has to do with how attuned a reviewer might be to the larger book publishing industry.

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MAY 2016

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