Monthly Archives: December 2012

Oh, Oh, Oh

Chaney Kwak is an award-winning travel writer living in San Francisco whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Condé Nast Traveler, among other places.

“Oh, Oh, Oh” is his first work of fiction in print and appears in ZYZZYVA’s Winter 2012 issue. Told in a cheeky, wised-up voice, it is the moving and hilarious tale of two very different men who share (mostly) the same first name. Despite the gulf separating their worlds, they are destined to meet–right at Christmas, making “Oh, Oh, Oh” perhaps the best holiday story ever involving furtive rest stop sex, over-the-top decorations, and online hustling.

The following is an excerpt.

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Two Half-Lives That Make Up a Single Identity : Zubair Ahmed’s ‘City of Rivers’

Zubair Ahmed’s first poetry collection City of Rivers (McSweeney’s, 96 pages) captures the reader’s heart from its first line to its last. These poems are reminders of poetry’s power to leave us breathless after immersing us in truths, both wonderful and painful. Ahmed, who was born and raised in Bangladesh and moved to the United States in 2005, explores memory and identity with a sincere voice steeped in genuine experience. These are dense poems, carrying the story of an individual, of a family, and of Bangladesh itself. City of Rivers opens with “Measuring the Strength of a Sparrow’s Thigh” and …Continue reading

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Dignity at the Mercy of a Ruined Economy: Hans Keilson’s ‘Life Goes On’

Originally published in 1933, Hans Keilson’s recently translated first novel, Life Goes On (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 255 pages; translated by Damion Searls), is a gripping story of a family living in post-World War I Germany. Keilson’s autobiographical novel, which came out when he was only twenty-three, is a striking exploration of struggle, shame, and hope, and what it means to live. Life Goes On follows the lives of the Seldersens as they face the economic turbulence sweeping Germany. Herr Seldersen, a veteran of the Great War, runs a small shop with his wife. Even as they try to make …Continue reading

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Documenting Life Amid the ‘Dragon’s Jaws’: Q&A with Thomas Alleman

From 1985 to 1988, photographer Thomas Alleman worked in a jimmy-rigged laundryroom-cum-darkroom to document the life, passion, and spirit of one of the most prominent and historic gay neighborhoods in the world—San Francisco’s Castro District—in the face of AIDS. His latest show, “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws: Gay San Francisco, 1985-1988,” runs at the Jewett Gallery in the San Francisco Main Library from December 1 though February 10. His photographs—stirring, necessary, and often deeply joyous—depict a brave set of San Franciscans propelled by a spirit that was unable to “be extinguished by something as dispassionate as a plague.” We spoke …Continue reading

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In the Winter Issue

“The one journal I read cover to cover as soon as it arrives—ZYZZYVA is that smart, that brilliantly curated …” —Junot Diaz “Zyzzyva is a snouted beetle, as any dictionary kid knows. It’s a word that nearly can’t be played in Scrabble, on account of all the Z’s. But those are novelty uses. The real meaning is this superb literary journal, which has real meaning. If you want to learn the things that literature can do with language, read it.” —Ben Greenman The newest issue of ZYZZYVA offers the same engaging mix of compelling writing and art you’ve come to …Continue reading

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