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A.V. Marraccini’s We the Parasites

I’m reading We the Parasites (Sublunary Editions, 2023) on a Boeing 747 airplane, hovering somewhere between Queens, New York and Athens, Greece, the absorbent zone of commute, of interval, which seems like the ideal setting to parse the voluminous scope of A.V. Marraccini’s debut book of nonfiction, committed, as Marraccini is, to the contingencies of reading and the mobile composition of the text.

Kevin Carey’s Junior Miles and the Junkman

As I chat on the phone with author Kevin Carey about the inspiration for his new book Junior Miles and the Junkman, I watch my partner and my twelve-year-old inspect and take apart the drivetrain on a bike. Carey has asked me to jump into a planned conversation with artist Steve Gerberich, crediting Gerberich’s kinetic art as motivation for his upcoming middle-grade novel.

José Olivarez’s Promises of Gold/Promesas de oro

Even the idea of a “collection” of poetry as a stringing together or collation of poems problematizes ideas about the binary of or divisions between beginnings and endings, openings and (en)closure, repetition and variation, unity and multiplicity, which is to say: affinity, connectivity. Entering the chat is José Olivarez’s Promises of Gold/Promesas de oro (Henry Holt and Co., 2023), published dos-à-dos in English and Spanish, whose audio version begins with applause.

Kevin Carey’s Junior Miles and the Junkman

I first came across Kevin Carey’s work when reading his crime novel Murder in the Marsh, where I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did he know how to keep you on the edge of your seat with a thrilling crime story, but he did so with lyrical expertise while still being playful with language. 

Khaled Khalifa’s No One Prayed Over Their Graves

No One Prayed Over Their Graves⎯ translated by Leri Price, who’s also handled the three previous Khalifa novels in English⎯ erupts from catastrophe and follows well-nigh every last reverberation outward.

In Conversation

Brendan Shay Basham with J.C. Hallman

I have a theory: every writer, at some point early in their careers, must produce something that amounts to a personal creation myth—the story of how someone like them came to be. This applies equally to, say, John Updike’s short story “A & P” and Marilynne Robinson’s novel Housekeeping. It’s particularly true of Brendan Shay Basham’s multivalent debut, Swim Home to the Vanished.

In Conversation

James Reich with D. Harlan Wilson

Since 2013, I have been the editor-in-chief for Anti-Oedipus Press. James’s first novel, I, Judas, left an indelible impression on me. After reading it in 2014, maybe 2015, I must have reached out to him with a compliment and an invitation to submit a book to AOP. We got along at once, and he sent me his novel Mistah Kurtz! A Prelude to Heart of Darkness. I love Conrad, and I loved what James did with Heart of Darkness, (re)viewing it through the sieve of his own unique voice, purview, and Word Horde.

Anne Serre’s A Leopard-Skin Hat

Anne Serre, the story goes, wrote her first novel in an effort to seduce a teacher of hers—whether this is true or just a tale she likes to tell is somewhat beside the point, this being the perfect creation myth for a writer supremely attuned to the things fiction can and cannot accomplish. A Leopard-Skin Hat, the fourth book by Serre to be translated into English by Mark Hutchinson, is, like Serre’s other work, exuberantly anti-realist and avowedly fictional.

Jenn Shapland’s Thin Skin

As Jenn Shapland describes in the titular essay of her new collection, Thin Skin, Oppenheimer was drawn to New Mexico for reasons of personal sentiment—he had traveled there as a child in an attempt to improve his health, and he hoped that the natural beauty of the landscape would inspire his scientists. Yet the impact of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which he directed, ricocheted across time and space.

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Small Worlds

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s second novel, Small Worlds, has much in common with his award-winning debut Open Water.

Olga Ravn’s My Work

Throughout Olga Ravn’s latest novel, My Work, protagonist and new mother Anna repeatedly says she wants to write a “normal book.” It’s a brilliant refrain, because of course Ravn’s book is anything but normal, though it is an ambitious one.

Sheena Patel’s
I’m a Fan

Patel invites us to recognize ourselves in the mirror she makes of her novel’s nonspecific world, peopled by characters that are merely types waiting for the reader’s personalization.

Richard Hell’s What Just Happened

The title of Richard Hell’s new book of poems, What Just Happened, can be taken in several ways. It could be referring to some very recent occurrence (as in “Did you see what just happened?”) or it could be pointing to an event that appears to lack all cause or reason (as in “I didn’t mean to break the cookie jar, it just happened”).

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Silver Nitrate and Brenda Lozano’s Witches

Although these two novels are very different in tone, focus, structure, and style, they share central themes of the societal structures that attempt to oppress and define women and the powerful magic women can access—though the magic present in each novel derives from very different sources.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues