Boxing

by John Freeman

In the waning days of those years in London I took up boxing. I didn’t want to unload on some unsuspecting soul so I found a sparring partner. She turned up, neck tatted, face pierced, dred- locked and strong as hell. A Turkish woman with East London stenciled on her left forearm. Before boxing she

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‘The Hungry and the Lost’ by Bethany W. Pope: Succumbing to the Rot

by Supriya Saxena

Bethany W. Pope’s The Hungry and the Lost (326 pages; Parthian Books; available for order online) offers a rich Southern Gothic tale that revels in the beauty and hostility of the Florida swamplands during the early 20th century. Pope’s immersive language draws the reader in early, but it’s the novel’s social commentary and respect for wilderness that leave a lasting impression. The Florida swampland attracts men who make a living from hunting herons, but after the birds stop coming and tuberculosis breaks out, a (fictional) small town near Tampa is deserted by all but two: the late minister’s mentally unsound wife, […]

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Worries

by Edward Derby

Hungers, germs, personal email gone to SPAM, lost postcards that explained everything, what to do about the weeds in the gravel, catalytic converter theft, a blood stain in a library book (page 17), sock holes, black holes, global warming, automatic subscription renewals, bankruptcy, asteroids, air quality, a helicopter circling the neighborhood, eviction, sagging underwear elastic,

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‘Horses Drawn with Blue Chalk’ by Rocío Ágreda Piérola: Language as an Unlimited Spectrum

by Chiara Bercu

Translated from the Spanish by Jessica Sequeira, Horses Drawn with Blue Chalk (42 pages; Ugly Duckling Presse) is Bolivian poet Rocío Ágreda Piérola’s first English publication, a bilingual presentation of poems from her 2017 chapbook, Detritus, and prose fragments from her working manuscript Quetiapine 400mg. In her introduction, Sequeira aligns the collection with the work of Argentine poets such as Hugo Mujica and Héctor Viel Temperley, situating Horses Drawn with Blue Chalk at the interstice of “carnality, communion and the word.”  The opening excerpts from Ágreda Piérola’s manuscript make a bid for fragmentation as a means of “reconstructing and vanquishing […]

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Six Authors in Search of a Character: Part 2—Richard Wright

by Sean Gill

1951 Richard Wright is “Bigger Thomas” “I became convinced that if I did not write of Bigger as I saw and felt him, if I did not try to make him a living personality and at the same time a symbol of all the larger things I felt and saw in him, I’d be reacting as Bigger himself reacted: that is, I’d be acting out of fear if I let what I thought whites would say constrict and paralyze me…The writing of it turned into a way of living for me…I kept out of the story as much as possible, […]

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‘Psychros’ by Charlene Elsby: Death as the End of Desire

by Shelby Hinte

“The grand philosophical question is whether suicide makes a choice of death, and the answer is yes.” A bold assertion? Maybe. But it is the conclusion Charlene Elsby’s narrator comes to after her boyfriend commits suicide in Elsby’s latest novel, Psychros (140 pages; Clash Press). Psychros is both a philosophical inquiry into the nature of existence and a psychoanalytical study of a woman looking to quell her grief through sex and violence. The death of her boyfriend causes a series of intellectual dilemmas for the narrator: how do you reconcile who a person was in life with how they are […]

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‘Czesław Miłosz: A California Life’ by Cynthia L. Haven: The West Coast’s Mythic Allure

by Peter Schlachte

Czesław Miłosz: A California Life (256 pages; Heyday) is as much as portrait of a place as it is of a person. Cynthia L. Haven’s biography of the 1980 Nobel winner and towering voice in 20th century literature explores Miłosz’s work not distilled through the lens of his upbringing in Lithuania nor his formative years in Poland, but through his later life, residing on Grizzly Peak in Berkeley and teaching Slavic languages and literatures at UC Berkeley. From the opening pages, Haven writes beautifully of California’s history and landscape. Here she is describing California’s famously balmy weather: “At first, the […]

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Community Plot

by Bryan Washington

I’d started tending the ex’s plot. The lettuce and the garlic and the turnips. It wasn’t my idea, the apartment complex had a community garden, and of course I’d seen you out there but we didn’t have shit to say to each other. We met on the stairs after my guy left, and it was another few weeks before we spoke. I’d seen you around, though. Sometimes I’d catch you staring. Our eyes met, and you’d look away. You were an old man, living alone, always in the same greasy cardigan and the same burnt brown shoes, which was everything […]

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ZYZZYVA Staff Recommends December 2021: Best of the Year

by ZYZZYVA Staff

Shelby Hinte, Intern: Favorite Book Read in 2021 That Was Published in 2021—Her Lesser Work by Elizabeth Ellen (Short Flight/Long Drive) Was it just me or was 2021 a crazy good year for books? No need to name names (as they have already been named enough), but more than one major literary icon published a new novel this year. While many big names were taking up shelf space at the bookstores, I found my favorite book of 2021 in the indie corner: Elizabeth Ellen’s short story collection Her Lesser Work. The twenty stories in this collection are about art, aging, […]

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Friend

by Dominica Phetteplace

She says Namaste even when not in yoga class, whereas I will not say om under any circumstances. She says she doesn’t resent the younger generation, that they are completely of a world that we made, that to hate the young is to hate ourselves. She says that guys on dating apps indicate their marriage suitability by listing their hobbies as ‘hiking’ and ‘rock climbing.’ Her hobbies include cocaine and gambling, but she leaves those off her profile. Somedays she doesn’t feel like getting out of bed, but if I say I want to get coffee she will walk with […]

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Biodome

by Juhea Kim

April 13. Almost midnight. Through the worn twill curtains, a viscous light was flowing into the apartment like amber. Park washed his face in the bathroom, took his meds, and sat down on the sofa with the remote. One click, and the blue light of the TV mingled with the sodium yellow of the room. He flipped through the channels. Game shows. Contestants competing for money, for marriage. The women are showing off, swiveling their hips and winking at the camera, and then they’re ranked by the amount of applause they receive. People awwing over tiny puppies. Slow, close-up shots […]

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