In the Winter Issue


ZYZZYVA Volume 35, #3, Winter 2019

New writing from the East Bay to San Francisco, from the North Bay to the Peninsula. Fiction: Charlie Jane Anders, Rita Bullwinkel, Lydia Conklin, Chia-Chia Lin, Nina Schuyler, Michael Sears, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, and Andrew Roe. Nonfiction: Paul Wilner, Gloria Frym, and Lydia Kiesling. Poetry: sam sax, Meg Hurtado Bloom, Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, W.S. Di Piero, Sara Mumolo, Kevin Simmonds, Lady Nestor Gomez, and Matthew Zapruder. Interview: Dodie Bellamy and the late Kevin Killian. Art: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Janet Delaney. You can purchase a copy of No. 117 here, or order a subscription to ZYZZYVA now. […]

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Draw a Bigger Circle: Q&A with Joyce Jenkins

by Meryl Natchez

To anyone in touch with the Bay Area literary scene, the publication Poetry Flash is part of the furniture—comfortable, essential, taken for granted. Its small office on Fourth Street in Berkeley is crammed with books, journals, and broadsides—a crush of continually incoming poetry, reviews, and fiction managed by Joyce Jenkins. She is the force behind this literary nexus, and  has been dedicated to the Bay Area poetry world since the early ’70s, working daily to serve that community and advocate for the arts in general. This interview describes her history with Poetry Flash and how the non-profit organization has grown […]

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‘The Town’ by Shaun Prescott: A Legacy of Erasure

by Zack Ravas

The Town (249 pages; FSG), the first novel by Shaun Prescott, takes place in New South Wales, a region of Prescott’s native Australia that was once home to the Wiradjuri people. The United Kingdom’s colonial campaign in the region erupted into war by 1824, which led to famine among the Wiradjuri, as well as to the destruction of many of their sacred sites. With this legacy of erasure in place, The Town takes a look at life on the fringes of contemporary New South Wales as our unnamed narrator visits the titular town, an isolated smattering of petrol stations, fast […]

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A Visit to Two Art Fairs

by Dominica Phetteplace

In the Instagram era, the consumption of art can become conflated with narcissism. If you can’t take a selfie with, does it even exist? The flip side of this is art that warmly invites the viewer in. I thought of this as I was turning a music box handle at the FOG Art + Design Fair, which ran from January 16-19 at Fort Mason. The music box was part of Anri Sala’s 2016 installation No Window, No Cry, (Olavo Redig de Campos) displayed by the Marian Goodman Gallery. A freestanding white wooden frame encloses a clear glass pane that is […]

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‘Creatures’ by Crissy Van Meter: Bound to the Sea

by Alicia Long

Set among the seasons and temperaments of a fictional island just off the coast of Southern California, Crissy Van Meter’s first novel, Creatures (256 pages; Algonquin Books), explores the world of Winter Island through the eyes of its narrator, Evangeline. Her story begins just three days before her wedding as she awaits her fiance’s return from the sea, even as a storm grows on the horizon and a whale’s carcass lodged deep in the harbor fouls the air. With her fiance possibly lost at sea and with a rotting whale to dispose of, Evie must also make do with the […]

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‘Dead Heat’ by Benedek Totth: A Record from the Abyss

by Zack Ravas

In the Nineties, it wasn’t uncommon for a shocking film like Larry Clark’s 1995 Kids to be marketed as “The Movie Every Parent in America Should See”—the implication being, it’s occasionally worthwhile or even necessary for parents to subject themselves to outré youth movies so as to keep abreast of what their children may or may be doing outside of adult supervision. It’s difficult to make the same case, to parents or anyone, for Benedek Totth’s first novel, Dead Heat (251 pages; Biblioasis; translated by Ildikó Noémi Nagy). The book, which concerns a quartet of teenage boys in an unnamed […]

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The Escape Artist: Bill Vollmann’s Remarkable Retreat into the Real

by Paul Wilner

An interview is by definition a species of performance: by the subject, struggling for definition, or invasion; and by the interlocutor, finding his or her own path in a journalistic enterprise perilously akin to speed dating. Conversations with William T. Vollmann (252 pages; University of Mississippi Press), edited by Daniel Lukes as part of the publisher’s “Literary Conversations” series, fulfills both functions. The incorrigibly ambitious Vollmann is the author of myriad explorations into Western mythologies, European history and literary journalistic inquiries into the roots of violence and environmental dystopia. His latest novel, The Lucky Star, returns to the Tenderloin underbelly […]

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‘The Criminal Child: Selected Essays’ by Jean Genet: A Refusal to Conform

by Morgan Goldstein

The Criminal Child: Selected Essays by Jean Genet

Born in Paris, novelist, poet, and dramatist Jean Genet grew up as a delinquent in state institutions, enduring the horrors of captivity only to later become a famous author and help revolutionize poetry and theatre. In The Criminal Child: Selected Essays (124 pages; NYRB Classics; translated by Charlotte Mandell and Jeffrey Zuckerman), a collection of Genet’s intimate and astounding essays on such themes as homosexuality, trauma, individuality, and the healing potential of creativity, we see how he chooses to view his past experience as a necessary evil on the path to becoming a great artist. His beautiful, lyrical language is […]

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

by ZYZZYVA Staff

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. […]

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Mrs. Sorry

by Gabriela Garcia

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 later I see her across my booth in the shoe department. She […]

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Hangover 1.1.2019

by sam sax

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 banging their forks & knives at once […]

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by Michelle Latiolais

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 items would be needed for the consumption of that course, these were first laid down, ready to be put to use, the bone dish for the trout, the deep […]

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The Rough Beast Takes a Painting Class

by Alexandra Teague

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 a color. But everyone knows […]

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