Tag Archives: Winter 2011

Final Letter from a Crossing Guard

Patrick McGinty, who was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a graduate assistant in the MFA program at Portland State University. His story “Final Letter from a Crossing Guard,” published in ZYZZYVA’s Winter ’11 issue, marks his first time in print.

A dark but humorous missive from a mother at the end of her rope, “Final Letter” does carry emotional heft, despite the narrator’s occupation, which could lend itself to easy ridicule but doesn’t here. The following is an excerpt from McGinty’s story.

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Terra Incognita

Melina Draper is a poet living in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her most recent book is Lugar de Origen–Place of Origin (Oyster River Press), a bilingual book of poetry co-written with Elena Lafert.

“Terra Incognita” is one of her two poems published in ZYZZYVA’s Winter ’11 issue. Both poems take Charles Darwin’s travels through Argentina in the 19th century as their theme. In “Terra,” as Darwin uncovers fossils in a place that “quaffed blood, ingested gristle, guts, and bone,” it’s hard not to think of Los Desaparecidos, the thousands upon thousands of people who “disappeared” during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War of the late ’70s and early ’80s.

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The Bull

Josh DuBose, who lives in North Hollywood, is an actor and and a writer, as well as the owner/operator of a small transcription firm catering to entertainment journalists. His story “The Bull,” published in ZYZZYVA‘s Winter ’11 issue, is his first work to appear in print.

A riff on the Ugly American, “The Bull” details a honeymoon destined to go wrong. Bawdy but thoughtful, the story ultimately goes to a surprising place, playing the narrator’s laugh-out-loud misadventures against a yearning he can’t quite define. The following is an excerpt.

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The Winning Crowd

The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Andrew Carnegie Medal, and PEN Center West Best Book Award, Gary Soto is the author of thirty-five books. His most recent are the e-novel When Dad Came Back (University Press of New England) and the YA story collection Hey 13! (Holiday House).

“The Winning Crowd,” his nonfiction piece in ZYZZYVA‘s Winter 2011 issue, is Soto’s account of attending a 49ers game (pre-Harbaugh era) with a friend, arriving at the stadium dressed “to the nines.” Funny and sinister, the piece could be read as a straight-ahead story of civility and elegance stirring the wrath of slovenly, crude sports fans. (As anybody who attended games at Candlestick Park last season could tell you, there was plenty of uncivil behavior at Niners games.) But it also works as a broader tale of how signs of culture and style can upset the very community you consider yourself part of.  The following is an excerpt.

Soto reads with Faith Gardner and Blossom Plum at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, at Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore in Berkeley.

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Studies in Sinister Toys and Figurines: Q&A With Michael Brennan

If you’ve dined at any number of swanky Bay Area establishments, you might have unwittingly enjoyed your meal in a restaurant designed by one of the few people who is as well known and well respected for his fine art as for his commercial work. Michael Brennan has designed the interiors of such San Francisco hotspots as Farallon, Zero Zero, Fleur de Lys, and Bruno’s, and Alameda’s Miss Pearl’s Jam House, as well as Revival in Berkeley. He’s painted murals for many more places, too, including the Cliff House (also in San Francisco). ZYZZYVA’s Winter ’11 issue features images of …Continue reading

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Self Portrait as Wikipedia Entry

Dean Rader is a professor in the English department at the University of San Francisco and author of Works & Days (Truman State University Press), which won the 2010 T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. His forthcoming book is Engaged Resistance: American Indian Art, Literature, and Film from Alcatraz to NMAI (University of Texas Press).

“Self Portrait as Wikipedia Entry” is one of his two poems in ZYZZYVA‘s Winter issue. The piece, in print, appears with sections of underlined words, denoting what would be a hyperlink if read on a screen. We reproduce the poem here with the actual links.

Rader will be reading tomorrow night at 7 p.m. with Herbert Gold, another Winter issue contributor, at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, as part of a ZYZZYVA/Granta event.

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Variation Under Nature

Kascha Semonovitch is a poet and writer in Seattle. Her poems have appeared in The Colorado Review, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, and other journals.

“Variation Under Nature” is one of her poems in ZYZZYVA‘s Winter issue. The titles of her poems in ZYZZYVA are also selection titles from Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. She is currently working on a series of poems based on the life of Alfred Russel Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin’s.

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Melinda, Doing Her Best

Herbert Gold is the author of such novels as Birth of a Hero (1951), The Man Who Was Not With It (1956), and Fathers (1967), as well as of the nonfiction works Haiti: Best Nightmare on Earth (2001) and the memoir Still Alive! A Temporary Condition (2008).

“Melinda, Doing Her Best,” which appears in ZYZZYVA’s Winter 2011 issue, is a story set sometime in ’90s San Francisco, back when Moose’s was open in North Beach and when dot-com money was pouring into the city. That the title character is a computer programmer on the outs, then, is particularly striking. It’s tempting to read Melinda as a harbinger of the high tech good times gone sour. But the story is primarily a troubling depiction of a woman everybody wants something from, a person truly alone.

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Enter Harlow

Karen Joy Fowler is the prize-winning author of many books, including the novels Sister Noon, Wit’s End, and the best-seller The Jane Austen Book Club. Her most recent book is the story collection What I Didn’t See (Small Beer Press).

“Enter Harlow,” her new fiction in ZYZZYVA‘s Winter issue, is further testament to what Michael Chabon has said about her work: “No contemporary writer creates characters more appealing, or examines them with greater acuity and forgiveness, than she does.” Set at UC Davis during the ’90s, the story, which comes from the opening pages of a novel-in-progress, follows a young woman “meandering” through her fourth year of school. “Enter Harlow” tells how that meandering is suddenly, spectacularly interrupted — in the school cafeteria. The following is an excerpt from the story.

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Get Lost

Faith Gardner is a writer and musician living in Oakland. She plays guitar and sings in the bands Hooray for Everything and Dark Beach, and performs solo as Scarlett O’Hara. Her writing has appeared in PANK, Word Riot, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other places.

“Get Lost” appears in the Winter 2011 issue of ZYZZYVA. About a young woman who is suddenly without her best friend, who moved with her to San Francisco, Gardner’s story is appealingly downbeat, somewhat sinister, and surprisingly humorous as it follows a person gone adrift in an unfamiliar city and looking everywhere for her bearings. The following is an excerpt from the story.

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