Monthly Archives: August 2011

Sight Lines

San Francisco writer Jill Storey has been published in Salon, the Washington Post, and Ms. Magazine, among other publications. Her essay “Sight Lines” appears in ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue.

A meditation on what it means to have monovision (“What I see can perhaps be described as what others see when viewing a movie or photograph.”), “Sight Lines” is a thoughtful exploration about seeing the world in two dimensions, and of the philosophical and cultural inquiries her condition raises. “Real is also the word my husband used when we saw a 3-D movie recently,” Storey writes. “To me, it looked like any other movie. So if the three-dimensional world is real, does that make my world unreal?” The following is an excerpt from her essay.

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ZYZZYVA on KQED’s ‘Forum’

Managing Editor Oscar Villalon spoke to Michael Krasny of “Forum” about what he and Editor Laura Cogan were up to at ZYZZYVA. You can hear their conversation here. (One thing to note: Oscar had not had any coffee before this morning interview. Had he had some coffee, he would have easily answered Krasny’s question about naming great writers from the state of Washington. He would have said, right off the bat, “Raymond Carver” — Carver whose poetry was published in ZYZZYVA nonetheless. Please forgive his lapse.)

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Second Wind

The white of the ocean’s foam-froth is said to contain all colors, while the sea’s green-blue depths are composed of the colors our ancestors could not bear. Or could not bear to let go: the story varies with the source. And the shadow that lies on the sea is cast by no flying or orbiting thing, but by the ocean floor where it blocks the light from the sun at the heart of the earth. These things, however they might terrify, are nonetheless true. I will hold you through the shivers and terrors. I will kiss the unholy curve of …Continue reading

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Lust for Life

Susan Berman is a writer in Los Angeles, where she also works as a Spanish interpreter. Her story “Lust for Life,” which appears in ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue, marks her first fiction in print.

The tale of a toxic love affair, Berman’s story is set in ’70s New York City, amid aspiring artists and youthful passion. How self-destruction can be confused for “passion” is one of the story’s concerns. The other is an appreciation for hope and beauty amid the most unpromising of scenarios. The following is an excerpt from “Lust for Life.”

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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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Houdini at 40

Handcuffed and head down in the tank two and a half minutes behind the black velvet curtain, deadbolts across the opening and nothing but the sound of water filling my ears, I discover myself on the verge of a possible mistake.  This is to say I meant for Anatole to leave me bound this time round; the longer the lapping occurs in my head, the closer I come to the governance of happiness.  I am truly singing in here, not drowning but singing, and if only you could hear me strumming in this little ocean of sleep, you would know …Continue reading

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It All Comes Down to a Walk in the Park: Sergio Chejfec’s ‘My Two Worlds’

My faith in reading — shattered by texting, an increasingly illiterate America, and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills — has been restored by a book about a walk in the park. Sergio Chejfec‘s My Two Worlds (Open Letter Books; 120 pages), translated by Margaret B. Carson, concerns itself with one walk in one park: a green expanse in the unnamed Brazilian town where Chefjec, a visiting Argentine academic, is attending a literary festival where he imagines himself looking “like a fugitive trying to blend in.” Consulting a map, seeing that green spot, he feels his heart race: “For me …Continue reading

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Approaching the Omega Point: Aron Meynell and Erik Otto at White Walls

The work of San Francisco artist Aron Meynell doesn’t immediately command attention. His tones are muted—“somber” is how White Walls gallery owner and curator Justin Giarla put it—and his subject matter that which might be swiftly passed over in the work of a less-skilled artist: trees, animals, the occasional person. But to round down the quietude of these pieces to silence would be an underestimation of their power. Instead of choosing to shock or scream, the carefully constructed landscape studies comprising Meynell’s first solo show hum along almost inaudibly, their worlds not quite plausible but not easily rejected as fantasy. …Continue reading

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Postcards from the Fringe: ‘Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Diver’ and ‘Swamp Juice’

Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer, showing through August 28 at the Underbelly as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, takes place sometime in the near future. Global warming has caused sea levels to massively rise, and the remaining humans live in rickety stilt houses perched atop skyscrapers. The performance’s opening sequence shows our hero, Alvin Sputnik, at the bedside of his love, Elena. He sings her a simple song on his ukulele as her soul (a point of light) flies out the window and into the ocean. Alvin is despondent, until he sees an ad on television calling for volunteers …Continue reading

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Editor’s Note #92

Dear Readers, Welcome to the new ZYZZYVA. After 26 years we’ve given the journal a new look, even a new heft. Over the past months we’ve worked on a redesign with Three Steps Ahead, the same California firm behind our new website. ZYZZYVA’s original print design, created with care by Thomas Ingalls & Associates in 1985, was elegant and restrained. We kept in mind the clarity and the spare beauty of their vision as we sought to add other elements speaking to the pleasures of print, to the craft of bookmaking, and to the stimulating quietude of reading. We considered …Continue reading

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With news that Philip Levine is the new Poet Laureate of the United States, we bring to you this poem that ran in the Spring 1991 issue of ZYZZYVA. (At the time, Levine was a professor of English at California State University, Fresno. He now divides his time between Fresno and Brooklyn.)

Focused on a bunch of boys experimenting with booze, as common a rite of adolescence as can be, “Gin” is funny and tender, as it shows the kids puzzling over the merits of drinking. But the poem unsheathes a sharp line at the end. “Any wonder we were trying gin,” Levine writes, after detailing all the travails — personal and political — life will hold for the underage drinkers.

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Postcards from the Fringe: Blind Summit Theatre’s ‘The Table’

At Blind Summit Theatre’s The Table, showing at Pleasance Dome through August 28 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, a puppet explains the basic principles of Japanese tabletop puppetry. Pacing back and forth on the white table serving as his stage — as his entire world—the nameless puppet demonstrates, and everyone can see,  how he is operated by three puppeteers—one for head and left hand (Mark Down, who also performs the voice), one for rump and right hand (Sean Garratt), and one for the feet (Nick Barnes). All three are on stage, fully visible, dressed in unassuming black. There …Continue reading

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