Monthly Archives: October 2013

Giving Kerouac’s ‘Mexican Girl’ Her Rightful Voice: Q&A with Tim Z. Hernandez

Who was the woman known to history only as “Terry, The Mexican Girl” from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road? Given that she was the linchpin for what became one of the most renowned tales in American letters, and that virtually all of Kerouac’s characters were based on real people who subsequently became famous themselves by association with the book and, often, as artists in their own right, it seemed improbable that no one had taken the time to track her down. That is, until author, poet and performer Tim Z. Hernandez found himself standing on the front doorstep of the …Continue reading

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The Inescapable Presence of the Border, and the Desert: Don Waters’s ‘Sunland’

Sid Dullaney, the protagonist of Don Waters’s first novel, Sunland (University of Nevada Press; 200 pages), is thirty-three, newly single, and unemployed. He has moved from Massachusetts back to his hometown of Tucson to care for his widowed grandmother. Nana lives in Paseo del Sol, an old folks’ home Sid struggles to afford. To pay the exorbitant cost, he starts making runs across the border to buy her medication, and gradually, medications for almost all of Paseo del Sol’s residents. “I began introducing myself to Nana’s neighbors and friends, showing off my best smile. The business, born from necessity, grew.”

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A House Well Furnished

There’s an unexpected sweetness to “A House Well Furnished” (ZYZZYVA No. 95), Brian Boies first published story, which was named to the Notable List for Best American Non-Required Reading 2013. (Also named to that list were ZYZZYVA stories by Rob Ehle, Dawna Kemper, and Bruce McKay.)

Boies’s protagonist is a young woman, lost in life and in San Francisco’s Mission District, living in a motel with Mark, a male companion. Her life is colorless and bleak, but she finds beauty in small things—the cleanliness of Mark’s childhood home, the look of him in the morning, of herself in the mirror. She and Mark take a day trip to Richmond; she dreams that Richmond will be all fields and creek. But when she arrives, reality intrudes. She ends the day how she began it; she is lost again. What follows is an excerpt from “A House Well Furnished.”

(Boies’s story is also the latest work from Issue No. 95 to be honored by the Best American series of anthologies. You can get a copy of that much-acclaimed issue here.)

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The Pain Hidden Behind Tenants’s Walls: Amy Grace Loyd’s ‘The Affairs of Others’

“American life asks us to engage in an act of triumphant recovery at all times or get out of the way,” notes Celia Cassill, the protagonist and narrator of Amy Grace Loyd’s first novel, The Affairs of Others (Picador, 272 pages). Celia has been all too happy “to get out of the way.” Since becoming a young widow, she has been hiding herself, her past, and her fears in plain sight as the landlady of a Brooklyn brownstone. When an upstairs tenant is confronted with heartbreak, he pleads with Celia to allow him a sub-letter while he escapes to France. …Continue reading

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A Grieving Father Lost in the Goodness of the Past: Paul Harding’s ‘Enon’

The protagonist of Paul Harding’s new novel, Enon (Random House; 256 pages), is Charlie Crosby, a bookish, New England house painter and the grandson of George Crosby (the protagonist of Harding’s Pulitzer Prize-winning first novel, Tinkers). Enon takes as its subject a year in the life of Charlie Crosby as he grieves for his only child, Kate, who is killed by a car while riding her bicycle home from the beach. In the days that follow, Charlie’s wife, Susan, departs for her parent’s house, a move that, even at the time, Charlie knows to be equal to the dissolution of their marriage. Despite these …Continue reading

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San Francisco—the Bookstores, the Landscape, the Kids: Q&A with Nathan Heller, Molly Young, & Willy Staley

Nathan Heller, Molly Young, and Willy Staley are three working writers in New York. Heller was recently named a staff writer at The New Yorker and is also a TV and film critic for Vogue. Young is a feature writer at New York magazine, and Staley (who I used to skateboard with in high school) writes regularly for the New York Times and the New York Times Magazine. All three are in their late twenties, and, interestingly, all three grew up in San Francisco. (Heller rode the 43 Masonic to high school, Young the 38 Geary, and Staley the 24 …Continue reading

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Lessons in the Fictional Life of a Substitute Teacher: Q&A with Emil DeAndreis

For the last four years, Emil DeAndreis has been substitute teaching while he completes his MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State. Educated in San Francisco’s public schools, DeAndreis never dreamed of being a sub, but the position has granted him an intriguing view of the classroom and the current state of learning. His new collection of short stories, Beyond Folly (Bluecubiclepress.com; 150 pages) is a hilarious, brooding, and sometimes frightening portrait of the life of the substitute in the city today. Beyond Folly follows 27-year-old substitute Horton Haggardy on nine different assignments—from librarian to AP English teacher to …Continue reading

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