Category Archives

News

ZYZZYVA news.

A Tote & Subscription Bundle brings you our new Winter Issue just in time for the holidays

unnamed (9)Looking for a gift for the holidays? How about our Tote & 4-Issue Subscription bundle, or even our Tote & 8-Issue Subscription bundle (Or perhaps as a gift for yourself? You’ve earned it!)

Order a Bundle by Tuesday, December 18, and have it delivered in plenty of time for your lucky recipient. We’ll start off the subscription with our newest issue, No. 114, featuring Tales of the  Uncanny from Kate Folk, Jim Ruland, Shawn Vestal, and David Drury; a Q&A with Michael Ondaatje by Caille Millner, poetry by Bruce Snider, Austen Leah Rosenfeld, and Heather Christle, the art of Kate Ballis, and much more.

 

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Rock ‘n Roll Suicide: ‘Destroy All Monsters’ by Jeff Jackson

Destroy All MonstersTo the young, music can be a religion. Destroy All Monsters (357 pages; FSG), the latest novel from Charlotte-based author Jeff Jackson, trades in the kind of punk fervor that inspires teenagers to thrash in mosh pits, raid merch booths, and obsessively listen to the same album. The power of what a few kids and some amped instruments can do is clearly a subject near to Jackson’s heart; not only does he perform in the self-described “weirdo pop band” Julian Calendar, but he’s allowed the vinyl single format to influence the design of the novel itself: Destroy All Monsters features an A-Side—which constitutes the novel proper­­—and a reverse B-Side, an alternate follow-up to the main story that follows some of the same characters in radically different incarnations. The novel contends frankly with both the difficulties of maintaining youthful passion for loud, distorted noise as one grows older and how the resentments and obligations of adulthood begin to accrue.

Destroy All Monsters centers on the music scene in a “conservative industrial city” called Arcadia. The prologue opens with a memorable performance by hometown heroes the Carmelite Rifles at a show attended by a motley assortment of locals:

The strip-mall goths, the mod metalheads, the blue-collar ravers, the bathtub-shitting punks, the jaded aesthetes who consider themselves beyond category. Everyone in line has imagined a night that could crack open and transform their dreary realities.

Also present at the show are two of the characters who will drive the rest of the novel: budding musician Florian and the forlorn but enigmatic Xenie. Not long after the Carmelite Rifles show, which ripples through the audience’s lives with the impact of an early Velvet Underground gig, a mysterious plague grips the entire country. All around the United States, club patrons are being transfixed by some unknown spell that causes them to gun down or otherwise attempt to murder the bands onstage:

The noise duo at the loft party in the Pacific Northwest. The garage rockers at the tavern in the New England suburbs. The jam band at the auditorium on the edge of the Midwestern prairie. The blue grass revivalists at the coffeehouse in the Deep South. There was never any fanfare. The killers simply walked into the clubs, took out their weapons, and started firing.

Although the killers’ motives remain largely ambiguous (most of them appear to be in a trance-like stupor as they go about their attack) the parallels to recent events are chilling. After terrorist attacks on music venues in Manchester and Paris in the last few years, it is all too easy to imagine the same violence occurring on this side of the Atlantic. The threat of danger feels heightened for the young people at the heart of Destroy All Monsters, to the point that the question of whether or not to perform a scheduled show becomes a matter of life and death for Arcadia’s local acts.

When tragedy ultimately does strike (“The band is heading for the [song] bridge when the first shot is fired”), Florian and Xenie are left to figure out how to privately mourn the loss of a close friend when seemingly everyone in town is doing so in a very public, outsized way. The spat of murders across the country also force Xenie to reckon with the fact that so much of the music playing at local venues and taking up space on her hard drive is, in a word, mediocre. “I used to have a huge music collection,” Xenie relates. “I was obsessed and even saved my concert stubs in a red cardboard box. Sometimes I’d open the box, and just touching the tickets was enough to give me a rush…These days I crave silence.”

Her statement is a lament for an age that has come to be defined by noise, much of it meaningless. Xenie and others in Arcadia’s music scene must grapple with the difficulty of conveying authentic expression in a world drowned out by sound. As Florian contemplates after the last show he’ll ever play: “It’s too easy to transform a moment of truth into a cheap performance.”

Destroy All Monsters understands the impetus to pick up a guitar and strum a power chord, perhaps out of the misguided notion that the result could lead to some change in the world. And the novel understands the disheartening fact that the country is full of numerous small towns like Arcadia, with its dive bars, shuttered factories, and hobo camps, each of them with their would-be punk rockers like Florian. Amid the story’s nationwide epidemic, Jackson’s characters display crucial growth: what ultimately comes to matter—more than selling out concert halls or recording a promising demo—is remaining true to the memory and last wishes of their friends after they’re gone. “Not everything has to be a performance,” Xenie concludes. “Some things should stay pure.”

Jackson, whose prose registers as punchy and acerbic, leading the reader through multiple act breaks and perspective changes with ease, is sincere in his depiction of provincial youth yearning for an escape. In the 21st century, rock ’n roll might not mean as much as it once did, but Jackson has written a fitting tribute to its lingering spirit.

Posted in Book Reviews, News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Support Makes a Difference – Please Donate Today

unnamed (8)Dear Friends,

As we close in on the end of the year, we have so much to be thankful for. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to produce good work and to be of service to our community. We hope that you feel ZYZZYVA is a meaningful part of your life, both as a reader and as someone who wants to see culture thrive, especially in these days of turmoil. So we ask:

Will you help us continue our work?

We do need your support.
No gift is too small.
Every dollar counts.

Thanks to the generosity of one of our champions, the first $10,000 we receive between today and the end of the year will be matched dollar-for-dollar. So please make a contribution today and see your support doubly rewarded!

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How we can help those affected by the California fires

Camp FireRaging wildfires have devastated both Northern and Southern California over the last several weeks. The situation has been impossible to ignore here in the Bay Area, as smoke from the fires has led to tremendously poor air quality. We feel for those more immediately impacted by the fires –– the numerous missing and displaced –– and have assembled a list of places seeking donations.

7×7 has compiled a list of local causes we can contribute to, including Disaster Relief funds and donation collections. The San Francisco SPCA has set up a fundraiser, specifically to provide care and treatment for animals affected by the fires. Eater SF offers a list of bars, restaurants, and breweries offering specials to benefit fire recovery. The Yuba-Sutter Habitat for Humanity has created a fund to help Camp Fire evacuees with essential needs.

Please feel free to share links to similar relief efforts in the Comments below.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the Winter Issue

In this issue:

Tales of the Uncanny

“Shelter” by Kate Folk: the concrete vault in the basement of a rented house exerts a strange pull on the woman living above it.

“Take the Water Prisoner” by Shawn Vestal: when the sins (and pains) of the father are visited upon the son.

“The Canyon” by Jim Ruland: the struggle for sobriety leads Lindsay to a confrontation she couldn’t have imagined.

“The Lake and the Onion” by David Drury: “There once was a lake who fell in love with an onion. This is merely what we 100 percent know.”

Interview

Michael Ondaatje on character, plot, West Marin, and diaspora.

Nonfiction

Fabián Martínez Siccardi on revisiting his family’s stoical estancia (“Patagonian Fox”) and Teresa H. Janssen on relief work and refugees (“Adrift at Sea”)

And More Fiction and Poetry:

Meron Hadero’s “The Street Sweep” (a young man’s future may be decided at a hotel gathering in Addis Ababa), Karl Taro Greenfeld’s “The Golden Age of Television” (the particular tyranny of the writers’ room), Jane Gillette’s “Ten Little Feet” (a less-than-innocent tradition at a tony school for boys), plus new work from Jessica Francis Kane and Olivia Clare.

Poems by Bruce Snider, Austen Leah Rosenfeld, Flower Conroy, Ryanaustin Dennis, Heather Altfeld, Allison Adair, Moriel Rothman-Zecher, and Heather Christle

Art: Featuring photographs from Kate Ballis’s “Infra Realism” series.

You can purchase a copy of No. 114 here, or order a subscription to ZYZZYVA now and we’ll start you off by shipping you the Winter issue.

Posted in News | Comments Off on In the Winter Issue

Secretly Wishing for Impossible Futures: ‘Her Mouth as Souvenir’ by Heather June Gibbons

Her Mouth as SouvenirHer Mouth as Souvenir (88 pages; University of Utah Press), winner of the 2017 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry, is a breathtaking and lyrical debut collection from Heather June Gibbons. Gibbons’ voice is a strong one, as she leads the reader through well-crafted and captivatingly honest free verse.

Pressingly urgent and timely, Her Mouth as Souvenir is a study of action in the face of anxiety. The poems’ context includes larger societal trends, such as the technologizing world that presents “a strange kind of convenience, / to access at the tap of a fingertip / so much information without / the ability to understand it,” and more personal attempts to uncover the how and why of past events.

There are three sections in the book that serve to mark the passage of time. The first section is a recognition of the past, of the prophets and ancestors that walked before Gibbons and “whisper, you owe us.” It also serves as an explication of the frustration that runs through the work, frustration without a culprit.

The second section is an attempt at self-understanding, through memory and causality. (The speaker can “pinpoint the exact moment / I become boring, but only in retrospect.”) A number of the poems here are titled “Sore Song” (drawn from Gibbons’s chapbook of the same name), and a musical thread runs through many of them. References are made to musical terminology and the free verse—sonically descriptive and rhythmically careful—often has a musical quality of its own. In the onomatopoetic “Longest Song,” repetitions of shh and mutter-mutter lay beside lyrical descriptions of sound:

            …how come broke

stereo breaks into mono
with the low amp hiss of
a house built of matchsticks

and lit…

All sounds, even the boom of San Francisco’s Golden Gate foghorn, are treated as music.

The third and final section turns to elegy as Gibbons considers loss. There are requiems for the sudden deaths of acquaintances (“Knife Girl”), the state of society under capitalism, and even for a past self. The poems here are often longer and denser, with more narrative complexity. As the past is mourned, the poems also look toward a bleak and perhaps dystopian future. In “The Green Rose Up,” the issue of climate change is tackled, as the poem sets the scene of cities overtaken by algae and natural devastation, its inhabitants ignored by the institutions meant to protect them.

It didn’t matter that we wore our silver suits.
Cities welled up and were overwhelmed.
The green kept rising until we waded in algae
and at night a phosphorescent bloom
lit the pathways our limbs had traveled
and pocked the surface of the water with sparks.

There is a helplessness to the poem, of secretly wishing for “impossible futures,” but also longing to forget such desires in the face of their impossibility. Living in the moment is nothing more than wanting to live without the fear of what’s to come. The poem serves as a warning, showing us a glimpse of a possible future we are all but resigned to.

Throughout Her Mouth as Souvenir, perception and the failure thereof are explored. The idea that perception equals perfect reality is scoffed at. There is a constant awareness of parallax; one of the “Sore Song” poems leans into the warping of perception:

            ….How I’ve missed
scanning the horizon for you, wary of parallax—

decadent, the way it screws with the curves.

The collection emphasizes the inherent deception in how we see the world: “In a quick smear before full focus, the eye / misreads what it wants to see.”

The vivid imagery Gibbons employs is central to her book as a whole, as are her poems’ intricate yet simple moments—acupuncture visits and getting carded while buying cigarettes after a yoga session. These form a larger collage, a larger commentary on the nature of regret and the passage of time, capturing the anxiety, but also the beauty, of the world we inhabit.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome Fall in Style with ZYZZYVA’s Tote & Sub Bundle

Labor Day PromoWhether you’re heading back to school or merely bracing for the BART commute, ZYZZYVA has you covered with our special Tote & 4-Issue Subscription Bundle. For little more than the price of a regular subscription, you’ll also receive one of our new and beautifully designed tote bags, handy for both taking several books (or issues of the journal) with you on the go, and letting those on the street know you Always Get the Last Word.

Your Subscription will begin with Issue No. 113, our special issue centered around themes of Environmental concerns & conservation. Our first issue featuring full-color artwork throughout is adorned with the beautiful watercolor paintings of Oakland artist Obi Kaufmann, and makes for ideal reading at home, on the bus, or at your favorite coffeehouse on a crisp autumn day. Grab your Tote & 4-Issue Subscription Bundle today!

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t miss our Creative Nonfiction Workshop with ‘The Golden Road’ author Caille Millner on November 3rd!

Caille Millner WorkshopApply for our Creative Nonfiction Workshop on November 3rd and experience a craft-intensive masterclass with Caille Millner, followed by conversation with ZYZZYVA’s editors. Millner is an essayist and author of the acclaimed memoir The Golden Road: Notes on my Gentrification as well as a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Don’t delay – the deadline to apply is approaching!

A ZYZZYVA Workshop is an opportunity you don’t want to pass up. Here’s what some past Workshop attendees have to say:

“Everything was great, from the location to the [instructor] to the other writers in the room. I enjoyed our post-Workshop conversation and seeing the ZYZZYVA offices too, which have a great atmosphere. I left the whole experience feeling inspired to keep writing and grateful for the work of  ZYZZYVA in supporting writers and their craft.”

“I felt like I had entered an oasis where paying attention, language, books, literature, relationships, and excellent communication and connection were the main priorities…I’m still thinking about all the novels-in progress and stories and vivid characters.”

“The workshop was one of the best I have attended. Like many serious writers, I need and value the interaction with other writers and instructors. I am also careful about which workshops to which I apply. This day exceeded my expectations and I came out of it energized. The attention to the organization of the day was excellent, the instructor was insightful and nurturing, and the other students were equally so.”

Apply today and we hope to see you November 3rd! 

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the Fall Issue

In this issue:

Of & About the Environment

Héctor Tobar on living in Los Angeles, before and after air quality regulations; Lauret Edith Savoy traces “the geology of us”; Juli Berwald on “the blob,” the mysterious oceanic phenomenon that left destruction in its wake; Obi Kaufmann on the importance of reframing the language of conservation.

Arundhati Roy discusses with John Freeman her work as an activist and a writer, and examines the great danger before us all.

Poems by Jane Hirshfield, John Sibley Williams, Rebecca Foust, Daniel Neff, Maggie Millner, Sophie Klahr, and Emily Pinkerton.

Fiction by Ben Lasman (ceding the field of work to the robots), Manuel Muñoz (the vulnerability of those who work our fields), and Louis B. Jones (the tea compost isn’t the only rancidness found living off the grid).

And More Fiction and Poetry:

Stories by Emma Copley Eisenberg, Elena Graceffa, and, marking his First-Time-in-Print, David Paul; poetry by Ruth Madievsky, Jennie Malboeuf, and Paul Wilner.

Art: Featuring Obi Kaufmann’s watercolors of California’s fauna and flora.

You can purchase a copy of No. 113 here, or order a subscription to ZYZZYVA now and we’ll start you off by shipping you the Fall issue.

Posted in News | Comments Off on In the Fall Issue

Celebrate Independence Day with a Subscription to an Indie Journal!

unnamed (3)This Independence Day week, champion vision and perseverance with a subscription to ZYZZYVA—one of the nation’s few independent literary journals.

Your subscription will include a FREE copy (a $15 value) of our acclaimed Art & Resistance Issue (No. 111), featuring essays, poetry, and stories by T.J. Stiles, Dana JohnsonRobin RommVictoria ChangKrys LeeDorthe NorsDean Rader,Ruth MadievskyJenny XieDavid Hernandez, and many more. (A subscription starts with our current issue, Spring/Summer, which will be delivered to you with the Art & Resistance Issue.)

Subscribe before July 9th, and see for yourself why ZYZZYVA is so widely enjoyed.

And have a Happy Fourth of July!

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

In the Spring Issue

In this issue:

Interview:

The first American to win the Man Booker Prize, Paul Beatty talks with Managing Editor Oscar Villalon about his novel “The Sellout,” Los Angeles, literature, and satire.

Nonfiction:

What Emerges from the Fog: Essays on the faded traces of a life spent in the City (Joshua Mohr’s “San Francisco Loved Us Once”), and on the incredible challenges of making a life here—and of just choosing to live (Suzanne Rivecca’s “Ugly and Bitter and Strong”).

Fiction:

Anticipating the Worst: Stories on the threat of explosions, whether it be at the airport (David L. Ulin’s “Terminal”) or as just part of your job (Tom Barbash’s “Catbird”).

Natalie Serber’s “La Voix du Sang”: A son, becoming a young man, pulls his parents into the spiral of his wobbly future.

Maddy Raskulinecz’s “Barbara from Florida”: The tricks of the pizza-delivery trade: carry a dummy wallet, have plenty of fake IDs, and be ready for anything.

Plus stories from Dawna Kemper, Olivia Parkes, and Michael Zaken.

Poetry:

Christopher J. Adamson, William Brewer, Leah Clare Kaminski, Amy Miller, Pablo Neruda (translated by Katie Lateef-Jan & Dean Rader), John Sibley Williams, Casey Thayer, Robert Thomas, Kristen Tracy, and Devon Walker-Figueroa

Art:

Featuring the paintings of Eileen David

You can purchase a copy of No. 112 here, or order a subscription to ZYZZYVA now and we’ll start you off by shipping you the Spring issue.

Posted in News | Comments Off on In the Spring Issue

Become a Member-Level Donor and Get a Copy of Fred Lyon’s ‘San Francisco Noir’

PA_SanFranciscoNoir_CVR_9781616896515If you make a Member-level donation of $100 to ZYZZYVA before the end of the year, do we have a nice surprise for you. We’ll send you a copy of acclaimed photographer Fred Lyon’s gorgeous San Francisco Noir, published by Princeton Architectural Press, for free. But we have a limited supply of books, so don’t delay! Just enter SFNOIR in the “Write a note” field on the donation page to receive your copy.

All of our Member-level donors also get a complimentary four-issue subscription to ZYZZYVA and have their generosity acknowledged by name in both the journal and on our website.

Called “San Francisco’s Brassai,” Fred Lyons, now 93, has long been photographing the city. His work has been exhibited at SF MOMA, the Legion of Honor Museum, the Art Institute in Chicago, and at the Leica Gallery, where an exhibition of his work from San Francisco Noir runs through December 30. The glamour and the grittiness of San Francisco’s bygone years are forever captured in Lyon’s work. (Click on two of the images found in the book below for a better sense of what we mean.) And thanks to the good people at Princeton Architecture Press, this $40 book can be yours with your $100 donation to ZYZZYVA. But hurry! Copies are very limited.

1007326

 

San Francisco cable car turnabout at Eddy and Powell Streets 1005191

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment