Tag Archives: 2015

‘Chumship’ by Kristopher Jansma: ZYZZYVA No. 105, Winter 2015

Kristopher Jansma’s first novel, “The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards” (Viking), was the winner of the 2014 Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award and a finalist for the Prix de l’Inapperçu, as well as a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick and an ABA “Indie Next” Choice. His work has appeared in Electric Literature, the New York Times, the Believer, The Millions, and other publications. His novel “Why We Came to the City” will be published by Viking in February. His story “Chumship” appears in the Winter issue.

“Chumship” lays out the friendship between two boys, Clark and the narrator, through high school and into college. The narrator is in thrall of droll Clark, who has an innate gift for spinning fictions, including a plan for hatching an imaginary girlfriend as a ploy for getting an actual one. Funny yet tender, Jansma’s story makes the most of its theme about the lies we tell others and ourselves. The following is an excerpt.

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‘Letter to Galway From Tahoe’ by Heather Altfeld: ZYZZYVA No. 105, Winter Issue

Heather Altfeld’s first book, “The Disappearing Theatre,” won the 2015 Poets at Work Prize, judged by Stephen Dunn. Her poems have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Green Mountains Review, Poetry Northwest, Okey-Panky, among other publications, and in ZYZZYVA No. 92 and 99. Her poem “Letter to Galway from Tahoe” is in ZYZZVA No. 105.

Addressed to the late great poet Galway Kinnell, who directed the poetry program at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the speaker of the poem finds herself seeking the ear of Kinnell, who has died only months ago. “I turn to you because I think you were one of the ones a little like me,// for whom terror and beauty were like the green languages of birds/ we longed to interpret, and felt, if we could not do so,/ that we had failed.” The following is the poem in its entirety.

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‘Paddle to Canada’ by Heather Monley: ZYZZYVA No. 105, Winter 2015

Heather Monley’s fiction has appeared in Crazyhorse and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and her story “Town of Birds” won the annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest. Her story “Paddle to Canada” appears in our Winter issue.

Though under 2,000 words, “Paddle to Canada” is a rich and nuanced telling of a family’s breaking apart, and how we wonder if our happy memories from the past were truly that, and how me carry the weight of experience. The following is Monley’s story in full.

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‘The Snake That Always Bites My Ass’ by Paul Madonna: ZYZZYVA No. 105

Paul Madonna writes and draws the weekly series “All Over Coffee” and is the author of “All Over Coffee” (City Lights Books) and “Everything Is Its Own Reward” (City Lights Books). His work has been published internationally in numerous books and magazines, exhibited in galleries and museums, including the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and the Oakland Museum of California, and he is a contributing editor to ZYZZYVA. His story “The Snake That Always Bites My Ass” appears in the Winter issue.

Though known as an artist, Madonna also writes fiction, such as his story “Hero,” which was published in ZYZZYVA No. 100. “The Snake That Always Bites My Ass,” which is also accompanied by Madonna’s art work in the Winter issue, is set in Thailand among ex-pats. The following is an excerpt from it.

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‘Eldorado’ by Lauren Alwan: ZYZZYVA No. 105, Winter 2015

Lauren Alwan is a staff contributor at LitStack, a literary news and review site, and her fiction has appeared in StoryQuarterly, the Alaska Quarterly Review—and next spring—in the Bellevue Literary Review, for her story “The Foreign Cinema,” which won the Goldenberg Prize for Fiction. Her essay “Eldorado” appears in the Winter issue.

Set in the mid-1970s in Northern California, Alwan’s writes of the time she was a young woman, building a house with a boyfriend in Siskiyou County. This slice of memoir isn’t just about that, of course. It delves into the culture of people trying to live off the land, the harsh realities of rural life, and what it means to have a home. It also thoughtfully examines her relationships with her father and with her boyfriend (whom she knew she’d never create a life with, despite their house). The following is an excerpt from “Eldorado.”

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‘The Cave’ by Austin Smith: ZYZZYVA No. 105, Winter 2015

Austin Smith, who lives in San Francisco, is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford and the author of four poetry collections, including “Almanac,” which was published by the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. His poems and fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Threepenny Review, and in ZYZZYVA Issues No. 83 and No. 100. His story “The Cave” appears in the Winter issue.

Relating the arrival of a new kid to a small farming community in Illinois, “The Cave” centers around its young narrator going to the boy’s house for dinner one evening. But around that event, which leads to them exploring a cave at night, is an examination of a child’s rural life, one not immune from the hardships true for children everywhere, including the menace of bullies. In the following excerpt, our narrator talks about the red-headed twin sisters who, for whatever reason, decide one day while getting on the school bus to single him out for their cruelty. The following is an excerpt from “The Cave.”

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‘Infelicities of Style’: 2015 Best American Essays Notable, Issue No. 102

Concluding the roster of work in ZYZZYVA that earned eleven Notables from the Best American series this year is Laura Esther Wolfson’s “Infelicities of Style”–one of five ZYZZYVA essays recognized as a Notable in the 2015 Best American Essays anthology. Wolfson tells the story of being a young stringer–a dance critic–for the local paper near her college. “Infelicities” is a mediation upon creating art, being excluded for one reason or the other from its creation, and a reckoning with the vagaries of fate.

Laura Esther Wolfson lives in New York City, where she works as a translator of Russian, French, and Spanish to English. Her writing has appeared in Bellingham Review, Gettysburg Review, The Rumpus, The Sun, and elsewhere; and has been repeatedly listed as Notable in Best American Essays. The following is an excerpt from “Infelicities of Style.”

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‘Traffic’: 2015 Best American Essays Notable, Issue No. 101

Jim Krusoe’s short but powerful “Traffic” is the second essay from Issue No. 101 to receive a Notable—in this case, from the 2015 Best American Essays anthology. In only four or so pages, Krusoe lays out a childhood memory and takes it apart, seeing clearly a truth about his parents (and a car accident involving a child) that he sensed but hadn’t articulated before.

Krusoe, who lives in Southern California, is the author of the novels “Parsifal” (Tin House), “Girl Factory” (Tin House) and “Iceland” (Dalkey Archive), as well as books of poetry and story collections. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund. The following is “Traffic” in its entirety.

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‘A Daughter’s Letter to Tamsen Donner’: 2015 Best American Nonrequired Reading Notable, Issue No. 101

Jill Logan’s essay, “A Daughter’s Letter to Tamsen Donner,” is one of two essays in Issue No. 101 recognized as a Notable by the Best American series this year—by the 2015 Best American Nonrequired Reading, to be exact. A conversation of sorts between Logan and one of the members of the ill-fated Donner Party, “A Daughter’s Letter” is a humorous but insightful meditation on family.

Logan, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, has had fiction published in Meridian, Bellingham Review, Crazyhorse, Quarterly West, Michigan Quarterly Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Santa Cruz, where she is working on a novel and a short story collection about her native Oklahoma. The following is an excerpt of “A Daughter’s Letter to Tamsen Donner.”

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‘Bank Repos for Sale,’ 2015 Best American Short Stories & Best American Nonrequired Reading Notable, Issue No. 101

Elena Mauli Shapiro’s story “Bank Repos for Sale,” which appeared in Issue No. 101, accounts for two of the eleven Notables earned by our contributors from the Best American series this year—having been recognized by both Best American Short Stories and Best American Nonrequired Reading. It is a darkly comic story set in an America that, as its title suggest, couldn’t care less about a skyrocketing stock market or the newest app.

Shapiro is the author of two novels, “In the Red” and “13 rue Therese” (both published by Little, Brown). This is her second story published by ZYZZYVA. Her story “Commuting” was published in Issue No. 94. The following is an excerpt from “Bank Repos for Sale.”

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‘Hold On’: 2015 Best American Short Stories Notable, Issue No. 100

Scott O’Connor’s “Hold On” is the third work of fiction from our Issue No. 100 to be named a Notable in the 2015 Best American Short Stories anthology. It is a story that movingly probes a fear specific to anybody living near a fault zone (which, in the U.S., means anybody living anywhere on the West Coast): namely, having to endure what an earthquake can wreak.

Scott O’Connor is the author of the novels “Half World” (Simon & Schuster) and “Untouchable” (Tyrus Books), winner of a Barnes & Noble Discover Award, and the novella “Among Wolves.” He lives in Los Angeles. The following is an excerpt from “Hold On.”

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‘The Dead Ones’: 2015 Best American Essays Notable, Issue No. 100

Edie Meidav’s essay “The Dead Ones” is one of three in our 100th issue to receive a Notable from the 2015 Best American Essays. (The others are Katie Crouch’s “To Bloom, to Burst, to Blaze” and David L. Ulin’s “Green Shirt,” which we’ll be excerpting soon.) In richly textured prose, Meidav relates a homecoming to Berkeley and the end of life of a beloved mentor. “Then the question remains: must we carry the hearts of everyone until our heart,” she writes, “like a ship crowded with the memory of those who have left, eventually also sinks like they all did?”
Edie Meidav is the author of the novels “The Far Field,” “Crawl Space,” “Lola, California,” and the novel-in-progress “Dogs of Cuba.” She is the recipient of a Lannan Fellowship, a Howard Fellowship, the Kafka Prize for Best Fiction by an American Woman, the Bard Fiction Prize and other citations, and she teaches in the UMass Amherst MFA program.
Her essay “Cuba+Kids-Water” appeared in Issue No. 95. The following is an excerpt from “The Dead Ones.”

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