Tag Archives: McSweeney’s

Queen of the Liminal: ‘Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine’ by Diane Williams

Diane Williams has remained on the edge of American experimental short fiction for the last twenty years. Known for her compact, oblique stories and her extraordinary use of non sequiturs, Williams has written seven books of stories and was an editor at StoryQuarterly before starting the NOON literary annual. She has been lauded by authors Jonathan Franzen, Sam Lipsyte, and Lydia Davis. And her latest book of remarkably potent short fiction, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (136 pages; McSweeney’s), not only keeps her on the forefront of the form, but also redefines its parameters. In an interview with HTMLGiant.com, Williams …Continue reading

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Everything Contained in a Small Moment: ‘Saint Friend’ by Carl Adamshick

Saint Friend (64 pages; McSweeney’s Poetry Series), the newest collection by Carl Adamshick, is massive, not in length, as the collection clocks in at well under 70 pages, but in quality. The poems Adamshick presents us with are expansive thought projects. Even the shorter poems occupy a space that is difficult to comprehend—yet they are so readable, like all the poems here. The fact that Adamshick can write with such variance, that he can be in tune with society and with the incredible poets of the past and present, makes his work impressive and enjoyable. In the opening poem of …Continue reading

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The Beginning of the End: ‘One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses’

Lucy Corin has a gift for illuminating the dark and the unsettling through flashes of often absurdist humor, even of beauty. As the title of her new story collection, One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses (McSweeney’s, 192 pages), suggests, Corin’s imagination is vast. In it, she nimbly shuttles us among a soldier encountering a witch, treasure-guarding dogs, and a girl he knew in high school; a pubescent girl agonizing over her coming-of-age rite, in which she selects a “madman” for her own; a high schooler obsessed with a neighborhood girl who disappears after California begins to burn unceasingly; and a …Continue reading

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A Refreshing Story Set in a Rundown Town: Michelle Tea’s ‘Mermaid in Chelsea Creek’

In a post-Twilight, post-Hunger Games world, the Young Adult literary scene is fraught with sparkly neutered vampires, teens struggling against the shackles of their dystopian societies, and bland heroines who are somehow sucked into irritating love triangles. This new YA craze has even spawned a Paranormal Romance sub-section in the Young Adult shelves of Barnes and Noble, crammed tight with the types of book covers you cannot help but judge. There is hope, however, and it comes in the form of Michelle Tea’s newest protagonist, a thirteen-year-old, dirt-layered, scabbed-knee girl named Sophie Swankowski. In her first installment of a YA …Continue reading

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Two Half-Lives That Make Up a Single Identity : Zubair Ahmed’s ‘City of Rivers’

Zubair Ahmed’s first poetry collection City of Rivers (McSweeney’s, 96 pages) captures the reader’s heart from its first line to its last. These poems are reminders of poetry’s power to leave us breathless after immersing us in truths, both wonderful and painful. Ahmed, who was born and raised in Bangladesh and moved to the United States in 2005, explores memory and identity with a sincere voice steeped in genuine experience. These are dense poems, carrying the story of an individual, of a family, and of Bangladesh itself. City of Rivers opens with “Measuring the Strength of a Sparrow’s Thigh” and …Continue reading

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Beauty Amid a Community’s Pain: Susan Straight’s ‘Between Heaven and Here’

Between Heaven and Here (McSweeney’s, 232 pages), the capstone of novelist Susan Straight’s Rio Seco trilogy, is set in Sarrat, a Southern California community as economically bone-dry as the creek separating it from Rio Seco. It is in Sarrat where a band of Louisianan refugees, their banter laced with Creole and their memories peppered with sugarcane, sharecropping, and floods, has taken root. And it is in Sarrat, with its fruit pickers and prostitutes, where one of that Creole community’s most beautiful members, Glorette Picard, is murdered. Straight has created a portrait of a city immediately familiar to anyone versed in …Continue reading

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Jesse Nathan is an editor at McSweeney’s and a doctoral student in English literature at Stanford University. He is also the author of a poetry chapbook, Dinner (Or, a Deranged Event Staged in a Theoretical Mansion in Which Time and History Have Been Grossly Dismembered and What We Know as the Laws of Physics Wildly Subverted, Conducted as an Inquiry into the Genius of Madness and the Art of the Faux Pas, and Having as a First Course to be Served to a Cast of Sixteen Eccentrics A Dish of Carrot Cabbage Salad Meant to Tickle Every Palate).

“Eye” is one of two poems by Nathan in the Fall 2012 issue of ZYZZYVA. An ode of sorts, it begins “Voice low, father, you are/ hurting aloud from the book of your life on this earth.” The images and ideas flowing from there prove arresting and surprising.

Jesse Nathan will be one of the readers at ZYZZYVA’s Fall Issue event at City Lights Bookstore at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30.

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Creatures in the Desert: ‘A Million Heavens’ by John Brandon

Probably the most enjoyable theme through all of John Brandon’s novels is his fascination with people in solitude, because it allows Brandon to linger on often-bizarre penchants and lifestyles. In Arkansas we saw the partnership of Swin Ruiz and Kyle Ribb, two young guys whose utter weirdness in personality lands them in the drug running business. In Citrus County, he focused on the dark longings of his characters, which they ponder on long walks through the forest, or during detention in an undecorated middle-school classroom. In his new novel, A Million Heavens (McSweeney’s; 272 pages), Brandon maintains his interest in …Continue reading

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A Relationship Gone Missing: ‘Love, an Index’ by Rebecca Lindenberg

Many poems of love loss have been written, but none are as difficult to categorize as those in Rebecca Lindenberg’s collection Love, an Index (McSweeney’s; 96 pages). The title itself is a teasing, post-romantic gesture, as though the subject can be summed up in one sequential arrangement. And yet, the poet attempts. But unlike Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” whose world is full of “many things… filled with the intent / to be lost that their loss is no disaster,” Lindenberg’s poems do not possess that self-consoling bravado. Her loss is abrupt and unforeseeable; her lover-poet, Craig Arnold, mysteriously vanishes while …Continue reading

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