Author Archives: editor

Our World Without Any Memory of Itself: ‘NK3’ by Michael Tolkin

Michael Tolkin’s 1988 novel, The Player, remains a note-perfect send-up of late Eighties Hollywood excess, a paranoid neo-noir told from the point-of-view of the murderer himself—a creatively and morally bankrupt Hollywood executive. Now the acclaimed author, screenwriter, and director returns with NK3 (300 pages; Grove), his first novel in more than a decade. Tolkin has long specialized in satire so shrewd and well-observed that it barely registers as satire; NK3, in which a memory-erasing biological weapon creates a power vacuum for the working classes to seize control from the rich and elite, couldn’t have arrived at a more apropos time. …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Comes After the Trauma of Fleeing: ‘The Refugees’ by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Refugees (224 pages; Grove), the new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen, consists of eight stories circling around the displacement caused by the Vietnam War. Though reviewers of the collection have tied the narratives of these stories to some kind of universal “immigrant experience,” the title of the book, as well as the historical context of the stories, refuses this oversimplified categorization. The Refugees gently but firmly reminds the reader of the difference, which lies largely in the ways one group has had some kind of choice in leaving their place of origin, while the other has …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A World of TV Eyes: ‘The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe’ by D.G. Compton

From Google Glass to drone warfare and genetic modification, it’s fair to say that our contemporary world bears more than a passing resemblance to the science-fiction novels of yesteryear. Originally published in 1974, English writer D.G. Compton’s The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, recently reprinted by New York Review Books Classics, is a vintage piece of speculative fiction that feels of the here and now, and startlingly so. Mortenhoe opens on a society that could very well be our own in another fifteen years: a culture rife with economic disparity, where most diseases have been eradicated and the populace is sated by …Continue reading

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Terrible Twist of Fate, the Birth of a Writer: ‘Will & I’ by Clay Byars

Clay Byars’ memoir, Will & I (192 pages; FSG Originals), could have opened on the car crash that changes Byars’ life at 20. It could have opened nine months after the crash when surgery that is supposed to fix the nerve damage in his shoulder results in a stroke that leaves him paralyzed and near death once more. It could have even opened on the stroke itself, the dizziness and life receding “to a dreamlike distance.” It could have opened on any one of the many dramatic circumstances punctuating Byars’ life, but instead it opens on a singing lesson. After …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

‘Stealth’ by Etan Nechin, ZYZZYVA No. 106, Spring/Summer

ZYZZYVSpring2016coverEtan Nechin is an Israeli-born writer currently living in New York. His work has appeared in such publications as Gravel Magazine, MonkeyBicycle, Entropy, and the Huffington Post, and several other publications in Hebrew. “Stealth” marks his First Time in Print for fiction in English.

Set at the beginning of the Persian Gulf War of the early ’90s, “Stealth” is narrated by a school boy living among a community of artists in Israel. Amid the gas masks, safety drills at school, and trading of U.S. military-themed bubble gum cards, there’s the everyday (and comic) life of a child trying to make sense of the world and his place in it. The following is an excerpt of “Stealth.” You can read the story in its entirety in Issue No. 106, which you can order here.

Continue reading

Posted in Archive, Back Issue Excerpts | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Hotel Bar’ by Ruth Madievsky, ZYZZYVA No. 106, Spring/Summer

ZYZZYVSpring2016coverRuth Madievsky is the author of the collection Emergency Brake (Tavern Books). She is also a  doctoral student at the University of Southern California’s School of Pharmacy, and a research assistant in an HIV clinic in Los Angeles.

Two of her latest poems appear in Issue No. 106: “Wind” and “Hotel Bar.” (Madievsky has been published in ZYZZYVA before. Her poem “Poem for Spring” appeared in No. 103.) Her work, as described by Maggie Millner in an interview with Madievsky, forces “a dialogue between her romantic and clinical inclinations and suggesting the body’s dangerous propensity for betrayal.” “Hotel Bar” could be seen as an example of that. Here it is in its entirety. You can read that poem and “Wind,” too, in Issue No. 106, which you can order here.

Continue reading

Posted in Archive, Back Issue Excerpts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

‘Amboise’ by Ariel Dorfman, ZYZZYVA No. 106, Spring/Summer

ZYZZYVSpring2016coverAriel Dorfman is the acclaimed novelist, playwright and author of Death and the Maiden. His writing frequently appears in The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New Republic, as well as numerous other magazines internationally. He is a professor of literature and Latin American Studies at Duke University, and his most recent book is the memoir Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile.

In his story “Amboise,” Dorfman gives us Lucy and Leo, a couple visiting France, on their way from Paris to see Chenonceau. As they deal with the various hiccups keeping them from getting to their destination, Leo’s determination to see the famous castle before the day is through is fueled by a single thought: “Tomorrow I wouldn’t be alive.” Leo, whose health has been failing, is resolute on killing himself before then. The following is an excerpt of Dorfman’s story. You can read it in its entirety in Issue No. 106, which you can order here.

Continue reading

Posted in Archive, Back Issue Excerpts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pain Hard to Name: Q&A with ‘Swallowed by the Cold’ Author Jensen Beach

The stories in Jensen Beach’s second story collection, Swallowed by the Cold (208 pages; Graywolf Press), demonstrate again and again that self-destruction doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In “Kino,” we meet a young man named Oskar who swears he intended to torch just his own boat, but who ended up setting fire to an entire marina. Oskar happens to work at what seems to be a gay brothel called Kino Club, which an uptight man named Martin frequents. The two encounter each other at a party where Martin’s wife, Louise, gets too drunk. Suffering under the weight of Martin’s self-denial, …Continue reading

Posted in Interviews, News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Who Will Help the Queen of the Rodeo?’ by Ron Carlson, ZYZZYVA No. 106, Spring/Summer

ZYZZYVSpring2016coverRon Carlson is the author of several books of fiction, including Return to Oakpine (Viking) and The Signal (Penguin). He is the director of the MFA Program in Fiction at the University of California at Irvine. His fiction appeared in ZYZZYVA Issues No. 96 and No. 100.

His latest story for ZYZZYVA, “Who Will Help the Queen of the Rodeo?,” savors that time when families have just begun: the children are still children, the time spent together is uncomplicated, and the goodness of the world is palpable—even if we can’t help but know that this idyll is fleeting. Set at the beginning of a summer vacation, reading Carlson’s story now is apt. But it’s the story’s tenderness that makes it a particularly welcoming world in which to enter. The following is an excerpt of Carlson’s story. You can read it in its entirety in Issue No. 106, which you can order here.

Continue reading

Posted in Archive, Back Issue Excerpts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Last Dance’ by Lou Mathews, ZYZZYVA No. 106, Spring/Summer

ZYZZYVSpring2016coverLou Mathews has received a Pushcart Prize, a Katherine Anne Porter Prize, National Endowment for the Arts and California Arts Commission fellowships in fiction. His stories have been published in Black Clock, Tin House, New England Review, and many other literary magazines, ten fiction anthologies and several textbooks. His first novel, L.A. Breakdown was a Los Angeles Times Best Book.

Mathew’s story, “Last Dance,” which is from a longer work titled Shaky Town, presents us with a Los Angeles instantly recognizable to many Angelenos. It’s a Los Angeles that’s primarily Mexican American, blue-collar, and community-minded. The residents of Shaky Town know each other well (perhaps too well), and their shared histories are long and complex. The following is an excerpt of Mathew’s story. You can read it in its entirety in Issue No. 106, which you can order here.

Continue reading

Posted in Archive, Back Issue Excerpts | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How Reading to My Kids Helped Me Give Better Author Readings

Publishing a book can mean a lot of things. You might, for example, find yourself at a book club meeting where an elderly gentleman confesses that he didn’t think he’d be able to finish your novel but he nonetheless managed to “struggle through it” (true story). You might, on the other hand, achieve a staggering level of success that allows you to quit your day job (unfortunately not a true story). Or, more likely, you’ll probably have to give a reading. This was the part of being a published author that I was dreading the most. Like many writers, I’m …Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Profile of Kay Ryan by John Freeman: ZYZZYVA No. 106, Spring/Summer

ZYZZYVSpring2016coverJohn Freeman is the author of How to Read a Novelist (FSG), the editor of the literary journal Freeman’s, and a contributing editor to ZYZZYVA. He is also a poet whose work has been published in The New Yorker and ZYZZYVA, and is currently working on a book about American poetry.

His feature on former U.S. poet laureate and longtime Bay Area resident Kay Ryan—set at a restaurant in the Presidio on a warm San Francisco day—launches a new component of ZYZZYVA: author profiles and conversations. (In our next issue, we’ll be publishing a conversation on memoir between Andrew Foster Altschul and Geoffrey and Tobias Wolff.) The following is an excerpt from Freeman’s profile. You can read it in its entirety in Issue No. 106, which you can order here.

Continue reading

Posted in Interviews, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment