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Desire, Text, & a San Francisco Apartment: Interview with Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian

by Daniel Benjamin

ZYZZYVA Volume 35, #3, Winter 2019

I sat down with authors and artists Dodie Bellamy and the late Kevin Killian in their Minna Street apartment in San Francisco on a Sunday afternoon in early May. I didn’t know it would be my last time seeing Kevin—he died following complications from chemotherapy on June 15, 2019. On the day of my visit, Kevin was in high spirits, even though he and Dodie had recently returned from a hospital stay following his cancer diagnosis. Kevin was enthusiastic about ongoing projects, and seemed to be speeding up more than slowing down. In tributes to Kevin following his death, many

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The Fixers

by Troy Jollimore

Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 film, Fargo, begins with the following statement: “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.” The statement was, of course, false. So far as we know, there was no desperate man, in Minnesota or anywhere in the Midwest, who hired two goons to kidnap his wife in the hopes of stealing the ransom money that would be paid by his

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Shop Talk: Troy Jollimore

by ZYZZYVA

Troy Jollimore ZYZZYVA interview

Fans of the films of the Coen Brothers simply must read Troy Jollimore’s essay “The Fixers” from Issue 120, the Technology issue. Through the lens of several of the Coens’ most seminal films, including their 1996 Best Picture nominee Fargo, Jollimore explores how disinformation and conspiracy have grown  dominant in American culture over the last two decades. Be sure to order your copy of Issue 120 so you can read “The Fixers.”

Troy Jollimore is the author of four books of poetry and three books of philosophy, as well as numerous articles, essays, and reviews. His first collection of poetry, Tom Thomson in Purgatory, won the National Book Critics Circle award in poetry for 2006. His poems have appeared in publications including the New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, McSweeney’s, the New England Review, Tin House, and The Best American Poetry 2020. He is currently a Professor in the Philosophy Department at California State University, Chico.

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Shop Talk: Lee Conell

by ZYZZYVA

ZYZZYVA Shop Talk: Lee Conell

Lee Conell’s story “My One and Only Very Incredible Amazing Love” appears in Issue 120, the Technology issue. In this bitterly funny and keenly insightful piece, Conell tracks the outsized influence that social media and reality TV have on the fragile friendship shared by two young women. Which reminds us: be sure to order your copy of Issue 120 if you haven’t already.

Lee Conell is the author of the novel The Party Upstairs, which was awarded the Wallant Award and was named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Post, as well as the story collection Subcortical, which was awarded The Story Prize Spotlight Award. Her writing appears in the Oxford American, ZYZZYVA, the Paris Review Daily, Kenyon Review online, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere; her stories have been shortlisted in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize anthology. She spoke to Editor Laura Cogan about “My One and Only Very Incredible Amazing Love” and its sardonic commentary on our social media age.

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The Street Sweep

by Meron Hadero

ZYZZYVA Volume 34, #3, Winter 2018

Getu stood in front of his mirror struggling to perfect a Windsor knot. He pulled the thick end of his tie through the loop, but the knot unraveled in his hands. He tried again, and again he failed. Did he really need the tie? He guessed it would probably be easier to persuade the guards at the Sheraton to let him in with one. And even then… But he couldn’t work out the steps, so Getu put the necktie in his pocket and decided to try his luck without it. Sitting at the edge of his mattress, he waited for

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Alabama Funeral

by Kristen Iskandrian

The sitter arrived with a Ziploc bag of brightly colored string. “For friendship bracelets,” she said, one eye veering off. “Yes,” Bette said. The sitter’s eye was particularly lazy today; Bette had never gotten used to it, although she herself, when extra tired, had an eye prone to drifting. Bette was aware that she could be, in a multitude of ways, a perfect hypocrite. She was named after Bette Midler, which had always embarrassed her, so she told people she was named after Bette Davis. “So it’s ‘Betty’?” people would ask, and then she’d have to correct them, and they’d

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Good With Boys

by Kristen Iskandrian

I was going to sleep in a museum—with any luck, next to Esau Abraham, a boy so gorgeously Jewish he held the entire Old Testament in his name, in the perfect contours of his face. I had this theory about boys, that if they just got close enough to me, and sort of focused in, they would forget about the obvious deterrents, the glasses, the frizzy hair, the underdeveloped body. I was zany, I really went for it, I knew all the good dick jokes. Everyone talks about personality like it’s a bad thing but the fact is, without one,

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Chorizo

by Jaime Cortez

The dogs are melting. Lobo is lying on the porch with his pink tongue hanging out. Chiquita is hiding under the car with her ears down. Everybody is hiding from the sun except for me. I’m riding my bicycle, so I can feel some wind when I pedal. It’s not working too good. Past the tomato fields, I can see this family walking along San Juan Highway. Right away I know they ain’t doing so good. We’re not rich or nothing, but they look super poor, even from far away. They’re walking, so obviously they don’t have no car or

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Shop Talk: Michael Jaime-Becerra

by ZYZZYVA

Michael Jaime-Becerra

Michael Jaime-Becerra’s story “Omar, March 1987,” about a boy named Omar who discovers his mother’s affair while skateboarding in the neighborhood, originally appeared in Issue 102. The story evokes the sights and sounds of Omar’s streets, its homes and storefronts, with these details grounding the story as Jaime-Becerra builds to Omar’s emotional devastation. It can be read in its entirety in Issue 102.

Michael Jaime-Becerra currently teaches creative writing at University of California, Riverside. His story collection, Every Night Is Ladies’ Night, was named one of the best of the year by The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. It was awarded a California Book Award, the Silver Medal for a First Work of Fiction. He spoke to Managing Editor Oscar Villalon about “Omar, March 1987” and his use of distinct sensory details.

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The Wedding Visitor

by Elizabeth Spencer

ZYZZYVA Volume 29, #2, Fall 2013

It seemed a good thing to do and because he hadn’t come there in so long, he went slowly. Approaching the house from the road before it spiraled up the drive, he sat for a while and gave it a long look. Like many Southern houses, the original structure was almost lost among the many extensions. There was the added side porch where everyone lived out each day, enjoying sun through the enveloping series of windows. He recalled another, earlier porch out back, screened in, added to escape the hot summer nights. They had slept under mosquito nets and hoped

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The Almeda Fire: Rogue Valley, Oregon

by Octavio Solis

Driving down Pioneer Road to Colver Road in Phoenix, Oregon (12/18/20). Credit: Otavio Solis As the weather report had promised, the morning was clear and blustery, the aspens outside clicking their leaves like maracas. I slurped the dregs of milk from my bowl of cereal, stepped outside to head to my studio, winked into the brightness and saw the plume. An immense bulbous cloud of pearly grey smoke billowing high into the blue. It loomed so large that for an instant a jab of panic seized my chest. Fire. Just as we had feared. All the day and night before,

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Anyone Can Do It

by Manuel Muñoz

ZYZZYVA Volume 34, #2, Fall 2018

Her immediate concern was money. It was a Friday when the men didn’t come home from the fields and, true, sometimes the men wouldn’t return until late, the headlights of the neighborhood work truck turning the corner, the men drunk and laughing from the bed of the pickup. And, true, other women might have thought first about the green immigration vans prowling the fields and the orchards all around the valley, ready to take away the men they might not see again for days if good luck held, or even longer if they found no luck at all. When the

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