Tag Archives: Portland

Legendary Frontier Days Told for These Times: ‘Paul Bunyan’ by Larry Beckett

Poet and songwriter Larry Beckett has been embarked on a quixotic project, retelling the legend of the famed, semi-fictional logger Paul Bunyan (not to mention his “blue-eyed ox,’’ Babe) in ways that capture the barbaric yawp of olden times in a voice that speaks to our current culture, and implicitly, paralysis of spirit. Bypassing empty debates about the pros and cons of “American exceptionalism,” Beckett flat out launches into the introduction of this hero of a thousand faces: Out of the wild North woods, in the thick of the timber And through the twirling of the winter of the blue …Continue reading

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Paths Untrodden: ‘Minor White: Manifestations of the Spirit’

Shortly after World War II, Minor White (1908-1976)—a photographer of some repute before the war—was in New York, freshly discharged from the Army intelligence corps, and speaking to Alfred Stieglitz in Stieglitz’s gallery, An American Place. In an often-quoted exchange between the two men, White, who felt the war had sapped some of his former verve, asked Stieglitz whether he could still take photographs. “Well, have you ever been in love?” Stieglitz said. White answered yes, and the elder artist explained, “Then you can be a photographer.” The conversation had a profound effect upon White. Indeed, whatever the immediate subject—the …Continue reading

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All the Lost, Autobiographical Novels

Years ago, when novelist Alexander Chee couldn’t sell his first book, a literary agent told him, “The first novel you finish isn’t always the first novel you publish.” The agent was right. Hunter S. Thompson, for example, wrote his first novel, the autobiographical story of a boozy Kentucky boy in the city titled Prince Jellyfish, in his early twenties. After numerous literary agents declined it, Thompson shelved the manuscript and finished a second novel called The Rum Diary, which Simon & Schuster released in 1998, nearly four decades after he had completed it. And just last month, De Capo Press published Jack Kerouac’s lost, semi-autobiographical …Continue reading

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Love Story, with Cocaine

Tom Bissell, who lives in Portland, Oregon, is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia (2003),
God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories (2005), The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam (2007), and Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter (2010).

His story for ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue, “Love Story, With Cocaine,” is a humorous portrayal of the ennui-soaked relationship between a young woman in a nameless Baltic European country and her American (platonic) boyfriend. Cocaine is part of their scene. Video games are in the background, too. And a highly strung greyhound is a constant companion. The following is an excerpt from Bissell’s story.

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Our Brave Little Soldiers

How to describe this beautifully strange story by Erika Recordon? It’s brief, but it’s haunting. “Our Brave Little Soldiers,” one of two stories by Recordon in the Spring 2011 issue of ZYZZYVA (which you can buy here), is dream-like in the truest sense: familiar yet alien, operating by an elusive yet recognizable logic. Along with Matthew Dickman, her fellow Portland, Ore., writer and ZYZZYVA contributor, Recordon reads tonight at the Rumpus event in San Francisco.

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My Father in Russia

Portland, Ore., poet Matthew Dickman won the 2008 APR/Honickman First Book Prize and the 2009 Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry (Oregon Book Awards) for his first poetry collection, “All-American Poem” (American Poetry Review). His second book of poems, “Maykovsky’s Revolver,” will be published by W.W. Norton & Co. in 2012.

The Spring 2011 issue of ZYZZYVA (you can buy a copy here) features three new poems from him, including “My Father in Russia,” an ecstatically comic vision of the new East (and of the West, for that matter). He’ll be reading with his fellow Portland writer and Spring 2011 contributor Erika Recordon at the Rumpus in San Francisco on Monday, April 11.

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