Author Archives: Zack Ravas

ZYZZYVA Recommends January 2020: What to Read, Watch, & Listen to

A new year means new media! It’s too early to tell just what the year will bring, but we’re kicking off 2020 with a Staff Recommends—so here’s a sampling of what we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to: Alicia Long, Intern: Despite all the changes that the new year promises, I find myself falling into familiar rhythms. These include the ones that bleed from the album Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes, who have long accompanied me and my headphones wherever we may go. Led by powerhouse Brittany Howard, the bluesy rock band, hailing loud and proud from Alabama, released their second …Continue reading

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‘Mrs. Sorry’ by Gabriela Garcia

Below, we present Gabriela Garcia’s short story “Mrs. Sorry” from Issue 116: The first time I see her, she is buying cold cream. What she wants, she says, is a moisturizer that doesn’t feel heavy, doesn’t sit on her skin like so much weight. I lay out her options: whipped argan oil, cold-pressed and refined; our new micro-beading exfoliating lotion with gentle 7 percent alpha hydroxy; the best-selling hyaluronic acid-plus-B-vitamins gel with all-day-stay technology, patent pending. Her red fingernails tap the counter as she slides a credit card with her other hand. She buys all of them. A few days …Continue reading

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‘Hangover 1.1.2019’ by sam sax

The following is sam sax’s poem “Hangover 1.1.2019” from Issue 117 in its entirety: Like a hammer swung into antique champagne flutes Like a family heirloom traded for a Twix Like a red dictionary dropped from a replica famous bridge Like a robe made out of skin that, turns out, is your skin & oops you must wear it Like the man who lives in your occipital lobe slowly whittles a sad stick and sighs Like a headwrap made of crane flies Like a framed section of your brain hanged in a museum Like a school of hungry kids all …Continue reading

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‘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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‘Session Drummer’ by Tommy Orange, ZYZZYVA No. 116

This holiday, we present Tommy Orange’s short story “Session Drummer” from Issue 116 in its entirety. I’m on a train and it’s Saturday so I don’t have to work, but when I’m not working Saturday I’m usually working. I mean it’s work only because I get paid and need the money, but it’s playing drums—like a drum set in a studio. I’m a sometimes session drummer working mainly at this studio in West Oakland where people know me as a good enough drummer to call when they need a good enough drummer for a usually mediocre album project. What I …Continue reading

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

With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, we thought we’d add a special wrinkle to our Staff Recommends this month: alongside our usual selection of films, books, and music, we’re including Thanksgiving recipes (or drink pairings) you might want to give a try this holiday. Enjoy! Lindsey Pannor, Intern: I can already envision my trip home this Thanksgiving: filing into a huge jet plane, (hopefully) sleeping through the red eye, waking up hovering right over home, and watching the deep orange of the sunrise scatter the thick winter night. I’ll have my headphones on, listening to Lætitia Tamako’s self-titled album by her …Continue reading

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