Author Archives: ZYZZYVA

Letter From The Editor

“Literature is the question minus the answer.” —Roland Barthes “To learn which questions are unanswerable and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.” —Ursula K. LeGuin, from The Left Hand of Darkness Dear Reader, Perhaps you, like me, find yourself asking a lot from literature these days: greater solace, finer insight, deeper resonance. For me that’s led to thinking more pointedly about such expectations, and I’ve found it is useful to ask not only what literature can do to respond to current events, but also how; not just what meaning literature can …Continue reading

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In the Winter Issue

In this issue: Art & Resistance Amid Turmoil Criticism: Troy Jollimore on how Wallace Shawn’s plays and his latest book, Night Thoughts, illuminate our predicament Robin Romm on what Imre Kertész can teach us about art as resistance Nonfiction: T.J. Stiles on the road we travelled to arrive at this precarious moment Andrew Tonkovich on “free persons,” and the risks writers must take Fiction: Dana Johnson’s “Like Other People”: In desperate need of a job, a graduate student takes a job cleaning cable boxes, working with folks also hard up for work. Kristopher Jansma’s “The Corps of Discovery”: On a long …Continue reading

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In the Fall Issue

In this issue: Interview: City Lights Books bookseller Paul Yamazaki in conversation with Point Reyes Books owner Stephen Sparks about the responsibilities of bookselling (“For me, it boils down to conversation”) and the Bay Area’s literary community (“I forget sometimes how lucky we are”). Nonfiction: Jesse Nathan on the perhaps the most impressive tool behind Bob Dylan’s artistry: his singular voice. Peter Orner on the final brief moments of a couple slain on an isolated beach. Fiction: Arrival and Immigration: stories from Michael Jaime-Becerra (“¡Dale, Dale, Dale!”), E.C. Osundu (“Alien Visitors”), Christine Ma Kellems (“The Children of Dissidents”) and Greg …Continue reading

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In the Spring Issue

In this issue: Interview: Acclaimed poet and critic W.S. Di Piero in conversation: on Shakespeare, the art of translation (the translator inhabits “The house of a language, an imagination, a culture.”), and on being a good citizen. Nonfiction: Sallie Tisdale’s essay “The Hinge”: “My worst regrets,” she writes, “are not big and dramatic; they are as tiny and sharp as glass ground into my palm.” Fiction: Nick Lane’s “So You’re Thinking of Becoming a Despot”: It’s easier than you think (and it’s a great way of getting that one village girl to finally notice you). Louis B. Jones’ “Ever Since …Continue reading

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In the Winter Issue

Our Winter issue features fiction, nonfiction, and poetry: “Throwback Thursday” by Joshua Mohr: online, it’s the appearance of happiness that matters most. “Revision” by Mar Colón-Margolies: on assignment covering Texas’s abortion laws, a journalist considers the line between his humanity and his profession. “Wild Kingdom” and “World Away” by Octavio Solis: the tenacity of adolescent memories reveal themselves in a father’s explosive anger and in a school production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” “Operator, Information” by Glen David Gold: picking up from Issue No. 100’s “The Plush Cocoon,” we offer another installment from Gold’s forthcoming three-volume memoir. “Flood Control,” …Continue reading

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In the Fall Issue

Our Fall issue, replete with fiction, nonfiction, and poetry: A wide-ranging and revealing conversation between Andrew Foster Altschul and Geoffrey and Tobias Wolff, on writing, memory, and the craft of memoir. Lori Ostlund’s “A Little Customer Service”: A waitress questions the value of services rendered when she finds herself in the bed—and the distressed home—of a rich, carefree customer. Ann Cummin’s “Divination”: The burden of a brother toiling the land, serving his no-account father. Adrienne Celt’s “Big Boss Bitch”: They were certain they’d found the perfect female candidate for president. Then she started thinking on her own. Mark Chiusano’s “The …Continue reading

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In the Spring/Summer Issue

Issue No. 106 offers for your enjoyment more of the country’s finest stories, poetry, essays, and visual art: Ariel Dorfman’s “Amboise”: A long-time couple’s trip to France, in which perhaps only one of them will return from. Soma Mei Sheng Frazier’s “Clutter”: A riot of memories and thoughts pulls a stroke victim through the past and the present. Lou Mathew’s “Last Dance”: Can a widower find it in himself to grant his annoying neighbor (who makes a mean tamale) a beseeched courtesy? Ashley Nelson Levy’s “Auntie”: A teen daughter makes room in more ways than one for her mother’s dying …Continue reading

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In the Winter Issue

Issue No. 105 closes our 30th anniversary year with a special cover designed by Paul Madonna, as well as new fiction from Dagoberto Gilb, and more, including: Austin Smith’s “The Cave”: Pining for mom making dinner back at the farmhouse, a boy ventures into an odd schoolmate’s home. Dominica Phettaplace’s “The Story of a True Artist”: The fraught path to maintaining Internet fame is not making high school any easier. Davide Orecchio’s “Diego Wilchen No More”: “In the cub, you could already see the invincible Wilchen. He will earn love, only to dash it, and a following, only to disappoint.” …Continue reading

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In the Fall Issue

Issue No. 104 continues our 30th anniversary celebration with a portfolio of art by the late, great artist Jay DeFeo, a new story by best-selling author Glen David Gold (his first piece of fiction in more than five years), and much more, including: April Ayers Lawson’s “Vulnerability”: The married artist comes to New York to visit two interested men, unclear about her intentions. Anthony Marra’s “The Last Words of Benito Picone”: A Buick sends him high above Market Street, and he lands in the everlasting company of a Soviet émigré and a young addict. Patricia Engel’s “Ramiro”: Are there second chances for a …Continue reading

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In the Spring/Summer Issue

Issue No. 103 kicks off our 30th anniversary year with a wealth of new works by the country’s finest contemporary authors. Lydia Millet’s “The Island in the Porthole”: What plagues this stranded cruise ship: navigation gone awry or existential crisis? Héctor Tobar’s “Secret Streams” (a Best American Short Stories 2016 selection): In Los Angeles, a winding path of water brings two loners together. Julie Chinitz’s “Shiftiness: The Border in Eight Cases”: A meditation on mercurial notions of territory and place in U.S. history. Christian Kiefer’s “Muzzleloader”: A bevy of unexpected visitors intrude on a widow’s refuge in the Colorado forest. …Continue reading

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In the Winter Issue

Issue No. 102 offers for your enjoyment more of the country’s finest stories, poetry, essays, and visual art: Michael Jaime-Becerra’s “Omer, March 1987”: A boy out skateboarding stumbles upon his mother’s affair. Melissa Yancy’s “Dog Years”: A scientist must make time for her family, her career, and, somewhere in there, cure one son of his devastating disease. Laura Esther Wolfson’s “Infelicities of Style”: In the hinterlands, a young dance critic experiences the complications of art. Octavio Solis’s “Retablos”: How may times has El Paso lamed him? Yet how many times has he walked back to his past walked away? Plus, …Continue reading

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In the Fall Issue

Issue No. 101 offers for your enjoyment more of the country’s finest stories, poetry, essays, and visual art: Vauhini Vara’s “We Were Here”: Betwixt the fancy turkey meatballs and Ava Gardner (no, not that one) dying down the hall, there exists in an apartment building all that could ever matter. Matt Sumell’s “Gift Horse”: Break into mom’s house, make sure you see Grams at her nursing home, and please, please try to keep it together. Soma Mei Sheng Frazier’s “Mr. Chompers”: Honey, the single mother asks her hypothetical husband, why can’t it be enough that her young daughter’s smart? Why …Continue reading

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