Monthly Archives: December 2019

‘Hospitality’ by Michelle Latiolais

Below, we present an excerpt from Michelle Latiolais’ essay “Hospitality” from Issue 116. You can read the essay in its entirety by purchasing the Issue from our Shop page. If a diner had to ask, for escargot tongs, or for the tiny fork for prizing out the snail, for a napkin, or more of the delicious butter from Normandy, we had failed. To be asked to bring the pepper mill…but a table already had their dinner salads…hmm, no. One brought the pepper mill to the table beneath one’s arm, salads balanced along wrists and forearms. What course came next, what …Continue reading

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‘The Rough Beast Takes a Painting Class’ by Alexandra Teague

We present Alexandra Teague’s poem “The Rough Beast Takes a Painting Class” from Issue 115 in its entirety:  The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through. —Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America The teacher says white is not truly a color, containing as it does, all wavelengths of visible light. She says the Rough Beast’s claws might be useful later for scraffito—to scratch back through to what’s beneath: cyan and magenta; Goldman-Sachs and Donald Trump. The teacher says Trump is not …Continue reading

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

2019 has nearly come to a close. But before the curtain drops, we’re offering one last Staff Recommends to end the year: so here’s a roundup of the works we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to. Enjoy!  Oscar Villalon, Managing Editor: What did Rian Johnson ever do to incur the flying spittle of Star Wars fan boys (fan man-children?) than direct a sequel featuring recognizable relationships and offering emotional heft that didn’t rely on the upswell of a score? And who needs the grief, especially if you already got the millions for the gig? Knives Out is the kind of movie …Continue reading

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‘A Little More Red Sun on the Human’ by Gillian Conoley: New Universals for a Secular World

Gillian Conoley’s new book, A Little More Red Sun on the Human (320 pages; Nightboat Press) is a collection of selected poems from throughout her career. Conoley uses new forms of linguistic constructions to tackle the spiritual adversity of the modern age and to redefine the standard of poetic consciousness. Conoley was born in Austin, Texas in 1955, and the farming community she grew up in inspired the narratives of her early works, in which she recalled her childhood in the South. Her youthful reminiscence later evolved into an interest in the natural world, and became a tool for her …Continue reading

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‘Suicide Woods’ by Benjamin Percy: A Horror that’s Close to Home

Benjamin Percy is a writer who understands that, in the twenty-first century, the scariest thing to many readers is not the supernatural or threats from beyond the grave, but something altogether closer to home: real estate. His latest release, Suicide Woods (192 pages; Graywolf Press), collects a variety of stories culled from the last decade of Percy’s career. The book covers a number of subjects and genres, including the uncanny, from “The Dummy’s” tale of a wrestling practice dummy that may or may not be imbued with life, to the titular story’s account of a group of depressed individuals who …Continue reading

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Q&A with Daniel Handler: ‘Bottle Grove’ and a Changing San Francisco

In Daniel Handler’s seventh novel, Bottle Grove (227 pages; Bloomsbury), which was published in the fall, San Francisco gets both a kiss on the cheek and a flick to the ear. For those who have lived in the city for two or more decades, the novel has a magnetism perhaps unfelt by others who’ve only known the place in its most recent incarnation—as that of a giant Lego set, one pulled apart and restacked according to the heedless whims of the tech industry. Handler, a longtime San Franciscan, evokes the city in its beloved pre-boom familiarity, but because he’s telling …Continue reading

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‘Space Invaders’ by Nona Fernández: Mutations of Reality

To replicate child-like bewilderment rather than to simply retell it is an enviable feat—one that Nona Fernández masters in Space Invaders (88 pages; Graywolf Press; translated by Natasha Wimmer). Bordering on autofiction, the short novel calls upon Fernández’s childhood in Chilé in the ’80s during the turmoil surrounding dictator Pinochet’s unseating, and looks at how those times pervade the lives of the fifth-graders who center the story, and manifest in unexpected and devastating ways The young community faces police brutality and various other traumas, culminating in the disappearance of Estrella—a well-loved peer who vanishes without explanation. The story is primarily …Continue reading

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