Monthly Archives: May 2019

ZYZZYVA Recommends May 2019: What to Read, Watch, & Listen to

May, we hardly knew you! Yes, it seems we are well and truly in the midst of summer now, which means we’re gearing up for our Annual Fundraiser & Celebration on June 21st. But we’re also taking time out to share what ZYZZYVA recommends this month—a roundup of the works we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to: Julia Matthews, Intern: While I’ll admit I’m often one to play songs out of order, hitting shuffle or getting distracted, I relish an album that begs to be listened from start to finish. Tierra Whack’s dreamscape Whack World is one such project. Released a year ago this spring, …Continue reading

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America Was Hard to Find

Kathleen Alcott is the author of three novels, her newest being America Was Hard to Find (Ecco). Her new book tells the stories of Fay Fern and Vincent Kahn, and in doing so considers the cultural watersheds (such as the anti-Vietnam War movement and NASA’s space program) that occurred over pivotal decades of the United States’ recent history. The following is an excerpt from America Was Hard to Find. Alcott will be in conversation with Managing Editor Oscar Vilallon about her novel at The Bindery in San Francisco on Thursday, May 30.   PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA, 1961-1963 Letters from Charlie, unopened, …Continue reading

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Q&A with Ross Gay: ‘The Book of Delights’ and an Essay a Day for a Year

Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights (288 pages; Algonquin Books) is a collection of over 100 short essays. The project began as a type of writing exercise: Gay would write one essay about something delightful every day for a year. While the collection doesn’t contain an essay for every single day of that year, and some of the essays might be called more thought-provoking than purely delightful, the book couldn’t be more aptly named. The pieces read at times like prose poetry or journal entries, and they cover a variety of topics, such as a single flower growing out of …Continue reading

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ZYZZYVA & Ploughshares Subscription Bundle!

Get the best literature from coast to coast this Memorial Day Weekend with ZYZZYVA & Ploughshares! Subscribe now and get two great literary journals –– ZYZZYVA & Ploughshares –– for one low price of $49.99. That’s 35% off the cover price! Beginning with the next issue of both Ploughshares and ZYZZYVA, subscribers will receive: 4 issues of Ploughshares (print and digital) 4 issues of ZYZZYVA Free submissions to the Ploughshares regular reading period Don’t delay –– subscribe now before this offer ends!* *Offer valid though May 28th, 2019.

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‘What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About,’ edited by Michele Filgate: A Complex Bond

In What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About (288 pages; Simon & Schuster; edited by Michele Filgate), fifteen writers grapple with the unexpected developments and shortcomings of their relationships with their mothers. In her introduction, Filgate explains that while each individual essay is an achievement in itself, together they work to address the ways we tend to idealize our mothers, as well as reflect honestly on the imperfect relationships we forge (and sometimes end) with them over the course of our lives: Acknowledging what we couldn’t say for so long, for whatever reason, is one way to heal our …Continue reading

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‘King of Joy’ by Richard Chiem: Millennial Malaise

King of Joy (176 pages; Soft Skull Press) floats out from under a narcotic haze. The first novel from Richard Chiem follows the recent reissue of his story collection, You Private Person, and expands on that book’s knack for exploring millennial ennui. As King of Joy opens, lead character Corvus finds herself in a purgatorial place; on the run from a painful past, she’s spent the last year residing in a secluded woodland manor with a host of other young women and their employer, a pornographer named Tim. Her days are loosely spent in a druggy stupor, socializing with her …Continue reading

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‘Floyd Harbor’ by Joel Mowdy: Harbor Lights, Suburban Sights, and Mean Streets

The inhabitants of Joel Mowdy’s Long Island spend their days and nights far from the affluent Hamptons, let alone Fitzgerald’s East Egg. Floyd Harbor (256 pages; Catapult Press), Mowdy’s debut collection of twelve interlinked stories, pays pitiless homage to youths trapped in dead-end jobs, killing time with video games and petty crime, blotting out the boredom with cheap liquor and designer drugs. Oh yeah, it’s not really a “harbor,’’ as the narrator of a story titled “Stacked Mattresses’’ explains. “There were all kinds of cars in the diner parking lot. From this vantage point, I also had a view of …Continue reading

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Q&A with Namwali Serpell: Recipe for Revolution—Brief and Contingent Solidarity in ‘The Old Drift’

Namwali Serpell’s The Old Drift (566 pages; Hogarth/Penguin Random House) is nothing short of a feat. The novel, which unfolds over several generations, is an alchemy of Zambian history, Afrofuturism, science, and fantasy. It is a triumphant and tragic retelling of the country’s birth and a sage forecast of what the future might hold for Zambia. Featuring a cast of memorable characters, Serpell’s narrative follows the lives of several generations of indigenous Africans, as well as Brits, Italians, and Indians—some colonists, some immigrants—who eventually become citizens of Zambia. Wittingly and unwittingly, many of Serpell’s characters contribute to Zambia’s technological and …Continue reading

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‘The Light Years’ by Chris Rush: The Turbulent Sublime

Chris Rush’s memoir, The Light Years (368 pages; FSG), opens during the Summer of Love. In the suburbs of New Jersey, Rush is the sweet yet strange middle child in a family of seven kids. As a boy, he is obsessed with making paper flowers by hand, maintains an enchantment for a pink satin cape described as a “fashion miracle,” and turns the family’s psychedelic basement into his bedroom. To him, his parents are “the most fabulous –– and most happy,” and he is content to play the part of the devout Catholic son. However, at twelve-years-old, Rush’s world is …Continue reading

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‘A Wonderful Stroke of Luck’ by Ann Beattie: Familiar Themes, New Territory

No good deed goes unpunished. Ann Beattie’s 21st work of fiction, A Wonderful Stroke Of Luck (288 pages; Viking), has been taking a beating in some quarters, notably the New York Times (for, among other capital sins, spelling Spalding Gray’s name incorrectly). She’s been laboring under the mantle as a voice of her g-g-generation ever since her first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, in 1976. It’s a jacket she hates, understandably, but it was refreshing at the time to find fiction about people and places (although usually not politics) of the ‘60s that didn’t read like it was written by Richard …Continue reading

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