Can you surrey? Can you picnic? Surrey down to a stoned soul picnic… And from the sky come the Lord and the lightning. -from the song “Stoned Soul Picnic” by The 5th Dimension They hit the streets, those Single gents spilling out of the cleaners All partnered up & promenodding Escorting their dainties. O You Shirtwalkers! Drop her, she’s just a thin wire of feigned domesticity Nothing but a clothes hanger. The press and starch of your city life Is blanding your manly. Don’t you see me passing? I want to slap my hands against your plackets & Pop your […]
I can’t not keep coming back to this place that’s not a place, its pepper trees, olive trees, lilac, narcissus, jasmine, here with me and mock orange and eucalyptus and working words that fill in others, an earthquake-enlivened rose bush, pollarded plane trees and sycamores, and cypress flat-topped by sea wind. Here are Interstate concrete, desert dust, hardpan, here are cobblestones and woven bricky streets, Death Valley’s salt flats, here are red granite domes that cool at night and groan. They are here. The imagination rushes toward the world in fear of forgetting anything: witness and invent, it says, and […]
San Francisco writer Jill Storey has been published in Salon, the Washington Post, and Ms. Magazine, among other publications. Her essay “Sight Lines” appears in ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue.
A meditation on what it means to have monovision (“What I see can perhaps be described as what others see when viewing a movie or photograph.”), “Sight Lines” is a thoughtful exploration about seeing the world in two dimensions, and of the philosophical and cultural inquiries her condition raises. “Real is also the word my husband used when we saw a 3-D movie recently,” Storey writes. “To me, it looked like any other movie. So if the three-dimensional world is real, does that make my world unreal?” The following is an excerpt from her essay.
The white of the ocean’s foam-froth is said to contain all colors, while the sea’s green-blue depths are composed of the colors our ancestors could not bear. Or could not bear to let go: the story varies with the source. And the shadow that lies on the sea is cast by no flying or orbiting thing, but by the ocean floor where it blocks the light from the sun at the heart of the earth. These things, however they might terrify, are nonetheless true. I will hold you through the shivers and terrors. I will kiss the unholy curve of […]
Susan Berman is a writer in Los Angeles, where she also works as a Spanish interpreter. Her story “Lust for Life,” which appears in ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue, marks her first fiction in print.
The tale of a toxic love affair, Berman’s story is set in ’70s New York City, amid aspiring artists and youthful passion. How self-destruction can be confused for “passion” is one of the story’s concerns. The other is an appreciation for hope and beauty amid the most unpromising of scenarios. The following is an excerpt from “Lust for Life.”
Tom Bissell, who lives in Portland, Oregon, is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia (2003),
God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories (2005), The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam (2007), and Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter (2010).
His story for ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue, “Love Story, With Cocaine,” is a humorous portrayal of the ennui-soaked relationship between a young woman in a nameless Baltic European country and her American (platonic) boyfriend. Cocaine is part of their scene. Video games are in the background, too. And a highly strung greyhound is a constant companion. The following is an excerpt from Bissell’s story.
Handcuffed and head down in the tank two and a half minutes behind the black velvet curtain, deadbolts across the opening and nothing but the sound of water filling my ears, I discover myself on the verge of a possible mistake. This is to say I meant for Anatole to leave me bound this time round; the longer the lapping occurs in my head, the closer I come to the governance of happiness. I am truly singing in here, not drowning but singing, and if only you could hear me strumming in this little ocean of sleep, you would know […]
Dear Readers, Welcome to the new ZYZZYVA. After 26 years we’ve given the journal a new look, even a new heft. Over the past months we’ve worked on a redesign with Three Steps Ahead, the same California firm behind our new website. ZYZZYVA’s original print design, created with care by Thomas Ingalls & Associates in 1985, was elegant and restrained. We kept in mind the clarity and the spare beauty of their vision as we sought to add other elements speaking to the pleasures of print, to the craft of bookmaking, and to the stimulating quietude of reading. We considered […]
Dear Readers, In 1985 Howard Junker founded this publication, and kept a steady course all these years. In the case of a West Coast literary journal, a steady course requires a perpetual willingness to take risks—to offer, time and again, the thrill of discovery. Yet having survived these many years, it is now clear that we have the fortitude of some enduring values. As Howard once said, ZYZZYVA asserts “classical values: the possibilities of individual vision; the enduring magic of words; the delight of variety; absolute freedom from commercial constraint.” As we take up where Howard Junker left off, we […]
If you’re visiting our site for the first time, we say, welcome! If you’ve been here before and are wondering if you’re in the right place, you are. We’ve spruced up the website, just one of the many changes at ZYZZYVA. We also have a new staff, a new blog, even a new office address. We’d like to fill you in.