Other Voices, Other Rooms

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Longtime editor and former bookstore owner Philip Turner has an essay on getting William Styron interested in a book he was editing, Dead Run: The Shocking Story of Dennis Stockton and Life on Death Row in America (1999). The core of the piece is really how editors become passionate about a manuscript and do all they can to get a book to succeed. As Turner writes: “As a person, I am not overly concerned about what people seem to think of me, nor do I crave lots of personal validation from others. Yet it’s an occupational hazard of the book […]

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You Don’t Want to Know

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Anneli Rufus is the award-winning author of several books, including Party of One: The Loner’s Manifesto, California Babylon: A Guide to Scandal, Mayhem, and Celluloid in the Golden State, and The Farewell Chronicles: How We Really Respond to Death. Her work has appeared in East Bay Express, the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon.com and Psychology Today. She lives in Berkeley.

“You Don’t Want to Know” is an original essay for ZYZZYVA’s website. It’s one of a group of connected essays Anneli Rufus has been working on. “The basic theme,” she writes, “is the darkness and hilarity of life with paralytically low self-esteem.”

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Coming in the Fall

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After 25 years, we’re giving ZYZZYVA a new look, even a new heft. When the Fall issue hits stands on August 21, you’ll notice the journal’s elegant new design, along with its new page count: an extra 40 pages of fine work from West Coast artists and writers. Here’s what else you can expect in this first issue of the new ZYZZYVA: fiction from David Guterson and Tom Bissell (both writing about Americans not exactly making the best of it while abroad) and Malena Watrous (writing about a mom making the best of dealing with the weird kid at her […]

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Poetry and Its Public: One Conversation Within A Long-Running Discussion

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The debate on poetry’s responsibility, or lack thereof, to an audience is undoubtedly as old as the art itself. Recent movements have taken noted stances on the “for” and “against” poles, from hermetic aesthetic-worship to cries for accessibility. Critic and author David Orr took up the debate via a review of several new books in Poetry’s April issue — and continued the discussion by responding to my Letter to the Editor in the June issue regarding his essay. Using releases by Thomas Sayers Ellis, Timothy Donnelly, C.D. Wright, and Eleanor Wilner as points of departure, Orr’s original piece, “Public poetry?”, […]

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The Bay Area Benefit for Dean Young

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ZYZZYVA and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers present an evening of readings from some of the nation’s finest poets and writers in a special Bay Area fundraiser for Dean Young, the acclaimed poet recovering from heart transplant surgery. The event is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, at Wheeler Hall, Maude Fife Room 315, at the University of California, Berkeley. Admission is free.

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An Embarrassment of Riches: The California Book Awards

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Year after year — since 1931 — the California Book Awards, sponsored by the Commonwealth Club of California, has steadfastly proven what anybody living in the Golden State should already know: We’re not hurting for fine authors. All kinds of authors. Authors who go on to win National Book Awards, PEN/Faulkners, Pulitzers, even Nobels. (If you go here, you can see for yourself the long list of distinguished authors bestowed with a silver or gold medal from the California Book Awards over the decades. The long list includes John Steinbeck, M.F.K. Fisher, Wallace Stegner, Czeslaw Milosz, Gina Berriault, William Saroyan, […]

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Other Voices, Other Rooms

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BookExpo America has wrapped up, so now we can sift through the rubble of lanyards and business cards, of wine-stained plastic cups and mistakenly pocketed linen cocktail napkins, and see what stands out: The big book of the convention sounds like it might be Jeffrey Eugenides new novel (coming out in October), The Marriage Plot. Here are nine other “hot” books from BEA, including the Bay Area’s Adam Mansbach‘s “Go the Fuck to Sleep.” (Its pub date has been moved up from October to next month.) Maile Meloy will have a new book out in October — The Apothecary, a […]

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Do You Know Los Mejores Narradores Jovenes en Español?

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Some seven years ago, Granta, a journal that has become synonymous with the finest literary writing coming out of the United Kingdom – to say nothing about it featuring some of the best writing coming out of the United States – published its first issue of Granta en español. In “a culmination of a dialogue” with the Spanish-speaking world it initiated back then, Granta published The Best of Young Spanish Language Novelists last year. Just as its landmark issue from 1983 spotlighting young novelists from the U.K. (Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Pat Barker, Ian McEwan, Graham […]

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PEN World Voices Heads to the West Coast

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The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature begins April 25, but you don’t have to live near Manhattan to get a taste of what the festival has to offer: stellar authors from around the globe communing with their American peers and readers. Along with stops in the Midwest, the Northeast, and the Eastern Seaboard, the PEN World Voices Festival tour will be coming to the West Coast from May 2 to May 4. Rahul Bhattacharya, whose first novel, “The Sly Company of People Who Care” (FSG), has earned him comparisons to V.S. Naipaul, and acclaimed (and banned) author Yan […]

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The Kangaroo Communique

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When ZYZZYVA published a Haruki Murakami story in its Spring issue of 1988, it was notable for a couple of reasons. It marked the first publication in English of a story from the soon-to-be award-winning and internationally known author. And his by-line read “Murakami Haruki.” J. Philip Gabriel, who would go on to translate Murakami’s other works, including the novel “Kafka on the Shore,” for which he won a PEN prize for translation, was a graduate student at Cornell then. He now teaches at the University of Arizona.

‘The Kangaroo Communique’ is suffused with a tristesse found in much of Murakami’s fiction, particularly his novel “Norwegian Wood.” It’s also slightly sinister and otherworldly, another characteristic of Murakami’s work. This story originally appeared in his first story collection, Slow Boat to China (1983), which along with a couple of novels, had yet to be translated into English in 1988.

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The Photosynthetic Restaurant

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Artist and writer Jonathon Keats says he’s honestly surprised no one has ever thought about it before he did. “For nearly a half billion years, plants have subsisted on a diet of photons haphazardly served up by the sun and indiscriminately consumed, without the least thought given to culinary enjoyment. Frankly, it’s barbaric.” From April 16 to July 17, Keats will be addressing that oversight by running a restaurant for plants at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. “The Photosynthetic Restaurant: Gourmet Sunlight for Plants as Catered by Jonathon Keats” will feature colored acrylic panes arranged throughout the museum’s gardens, […]

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Busted Brackets

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Can it get worse before it gets better? Yes, it can. Heading into tomorrow’s men’s basketball Final Four (for those of you unversed in semi-pro college athletics, we refer to the 2011 NCAA Tournament), millions of people are holding worthless brackets in their hands, their dreams of snagging the office-pool booty long turned into ash. Butler, Virginia Commonwealth University, Kentucky, and Connecticut were on just about nobody’s list as the teams to make the semi-finals. Before the Sweet Sixteen match-ups were played, some authors were queried on the state of their picks, and asked to describe them in ten words […]

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