ZYZZYVA Staff Recommends December 2020: What to Read, Watch, & Listen to

by ZYZZYVA Staff

Colton Alstatt, Intern: I was lucky enough to write a review for the ZYZZYVA blog on my favorite novel of the year, Charlie Kaufman’s Antkind. Few days pass where I do not think about some wild scene, iconoclastic insight, or odd character from the book. It is a long read but, if you are fortunate enough to have some time off work this holiday season, a worthwhile one. The School of Life YouTube channel was notable for me, too. It produced animated video essays on art history, self-improvement, and relationship psychology with subversive insights that I have not heard anywhere […]

Continue Reading

‘This Radiant Life’ by Chantal Neveu: The Vast Expanse

by Lily Nilipour

Even in the sparest poetry, the words rather than the whiteness on the page are our focus; large spaces between phrases, lines, or stanzas create pause and generate the rhythm by which we read the language before us. The page is whittled away by the poet, revealing precious words in sculpted white space. But Chantal Neveu’s book-length poem This Radiant Life, newly translated by Erín Moure (210 pages; Book*hug Press), has a different and radical relationship to space. On many of the pages is just a single line of poetry centered in and surrounded by white. The page is no […]

Continue Reading

‘Miami Noir: The Classics’: A Rich and Sultry Landscape

by CJ Green

According to historian Paul George, Miami was first called the Magic City in the early twentieth century, not because of its beautiful sunsets and glistening waters, but to lure northerners to the humid, mosquito-filled swampland. “Like many Florida stories,” Connie Ogle once reflected in the Miami Herald, “there may have been a bit of a swindle involved.” Miami, like any paradise, often produces stories where the magical setting clashes against the more dubious characters within it. This tradition is displayed most recently in Miami Noir: The Classics (Akashic Books; 397 pages; edited by Les Standiford). Featuring 19 stories published between […]

Continue Reading

‘The Life of William Faulkner: This Alarming Paradox’ by Carl Rollyson: A Complex Portrait

by Nessa Ordukhani

Entrenched in Gothic drama and the history of the American South, William Faulkner’s writing remain a landmark in Modernist fiction. Pulitzer and Nobel prize winner, Faulkner is undeniably a giant of twentieth century literature. However, less well known, perhaps, is the life he led, the conditions he struggled with, and the contradictions of his own self-perception. Despite Faulkner’s aversion to biographies, in The Life of William Faulkner: This Alarming Paradox, 1935–1962 (Volume 2), (622 pages; University of Virginia Press), Carl Rollyson, seasoned biographer and Professor Emeritus at The City University of New York, produces a vivid sequel to the first […]

Continue Reading

‘That Was Now, This Is Then’ by Vijay Seshadri: Irreverent Experiments with the Form

by Corinne Leong

Time seems to have become an alien concept in recent months. In this sense, That Was Now, This Is Then (Graywolf Press; 80 pages), the new collection by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Vijay Seshadri, offers an uncanny relevance. It would be difficult to offer a faithful summary of the collection as even in its brevity, the book covers a stunning number of topics: from bereavement and the detriments of modernity to Hegel and robocalls. The poems strikes a rare balance of humor, poignancy, and intellectualism. Seshadri crafts a poetic narrative that obliterates any linear conceptions of time and human experience, armed with […]

Continue Reading

‘Salt Water’ by Josep Pla: A Dive Into the Mediterranean

by Colton Alstatt

Though Josep Pla earned a reputation as “the most important (and censored) prose writer in twentieth century Catalan literature” for his anti-fascist journalism, the late author admitted regret that his work kept him from fiction writing. In a 1966 preface to the recently re-published Salt Water (464 pages; Archipelago Books), Pla views the collection of connected and ostensibly nonfiction pieces  written in his youth as “evidence of [his] potential, of what [he] might have achieved.” Considering that this  was a lie meant to subvert Franco’s fascist censors, and Pla actually wrote these short stories while in his fifties, Salt Water […]

Continue Reading

‘You Will Love What You Have Killed’ by Kevin Lambert: Rip It Up and Start Again

by Zack Ravas

While involved in the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley during the Sixties, activist Jack Weinberg became famous for coining the phrase, “Don’t trust anyone over 30”; few novels personify his quote as sharply as You Will Love What You Have Killed (185 pages; Biblioasis International; translated by Donald Winkler), the first novel by Canadian Millennial author Kevin Lambert. The story is set in Chicoutimi, a small French-speaking town in Quebec where children more often than not end up dead at the hands of their elders. On the surface, Chicoutimi is a town that appears like any other—with its glad-handing politicians, […]

Continue Reading

‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig: All That Could Have Been

by Nessa Ordukhani

There isn’t a single person who hasn’t asked themselves “what could have been.” Regret is as ubiquitous as air and we cannot help but dwell on hypotheticals and possibilities. In Matt Haig’s new novel, The Midnight Library (288 pages; Viking), the reader is invited into a world where regrets and missed chances—the parallel lives that exist should things have turned out differently—can be visited. At the center of Haig’s story is Nora Seed, a woman inundated with remorse. With a dead-end job, a terminated engagement, and a plethora of family issues, Nora can’t seem to get anything right. When she […]

Continue Reading

Taming the Dog

by Kristen Tracy

We hope it’s a safe and restful holiday for you and your loved ones. In that spirit, we’re sharing Kristen Tracy’s poem from Issue 112, “Taming the Dog”: Your dog arrives at my open window filled with advice. He sees how I trim the beans and complains. He believes the way I tenderize my lamb is an abomination. The neck may be tough, but in my house we use everything. We hang our laundry. We beat our rugs and there is joy. Last night, he caught me pruning the magnolia tree, appeared beneath my ladder, fur holding the light of […]

Continue Reading

ZYZZYVA Staff Recommends November 2020: What to Read, Watch, & Listen to

by ZYZZYVA Staff

We hope our readers have a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving this year; and just in case you’re in need of some light reading after a heavy meal, we’ve got you covered with a bevy of content in this month’s Staff Recommends. So let’s get cracking: Corinne Leong, Intern: Late November in Vermont: the trees are free of leaves, the skies grey with incoming winter. Richard Papen, a transfer student from a rural town in Central California, has begun studying Classics at Hampden College alongside a cohort of enigmatic and seemingly superior characters.  I’ve always associated Donna Tartt with her more […]

Continue Reading

The L.A. Issue: Letter from the Editor

by Laura Cogan

ZYZZYVA Volume 36, #2, Fall–Winter 2020 (No. 119) - Night Version

The following is Laura Cogan’s Letter from the Editor in our new L.A. Issue. You can purchase a copy of Issue 119 from our Shop page: Dear Reader, Though Los Angeles occupies an outsized space in America’s (and even the world’s) cultural imagination because of the film and television industries, its literary culture is comparatively overlooked or minimized. Here on the West Coast we are busy enough going about our work that it is easy to forget for long stretches at a time the still significant East Coast bias in publishing. And then every so often someone in New York sends […]

Continue Reading