Assaf Gavron has seized time as a metaphor for his funny, poignant, and nuanced look at the decades’ long conflict in the Middle East. If what you know about the Israel-Palestine dispute comes from reading newspapers, listening to pundits on television, or watching startling images of screeching ambulances, demolished homes, and the comet-like puffs of smoke from bombs exploding in the air, then you are in for a treat with Gavron’s novel, Almost Dead, the story of Eitan Enoch and Fahmi Sabich.
Posts Tagged ‘Issue 1’
I love poetry. Really, I do. In fact, to repurpose what Alvie told Annie in Woody’s “Annie Hall”… Love is too weak a word for what I feel. I luuurve poetry, you know, I loave poetry, I luff poetry, two F’s. So, this isn’t easy for me to say. But it’s time for a talk. We need to surround poetry with all of its closest friends and family—maybe in that den with the nice window overlooking the maples or the dusty book-stuffed office where poetry counsels its earnest undergrads—and have a talk. You know, that talk—the one that starts with those four hard-to-hear words: you have a problem. Yes, Poetry, it’s time for an intervention.
Interviewed by Alex Gilvarry
Porochista Khakpour is the author of Sons and Other Flammable Objects, a remarkable debut novel published to wide critical acclaim in 2007. That year it was a New York Times “Editor’s Choice,” a Chicago Tribune Fall’s Best, and a California Book Award Winner for First Fiction. The New Yorker has called Khakpour’s “comic sense… infectious.” And her debut novel, full of raw energy and exuberance, has drawn comparisons to Zadie Smith and Philip Roth. Khakpour’s latest story, The Deer-Vehicle Collision Survivor’s Support Group, recently appeared in Guernica.
Porochista has taught fiction as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bucknell University for the past few years, and this fall will be joining the faculty at the College of Sante Fe as a Professor of Creative Writing.
READ (red) v. – 1. To comprehend or take in the meaning of (something written or printed). 2. To utter or render aloud (something written or printed).
—Oxford English Dictionary
Consider the above entry from the OED. Readers applying the second definition to The System of Vienna, by Gert Jonke, will, I believe, more readily meet the condition of the first. Jonke’s prose is fun to read, but not always easy to understand. It helps to ‘render aloud’ his words, much the same way that, say, Finnegan’s Wake is served by recitation, all the better to hear Joyce’s musicality. With Jonke, an oral reading brings out the obsessive vocal twitter of Vienna’s denizens such as this one that we meet early on in a chapter entitled “Autumn Mist—Rose Hill.”
In the unnerving first chapter of Jon McGregor’s Even the Dogs, the body of an almost forgotten man is found lying dead in his sitting room. Watching the police puzzle over the scene are the man’s friends, also dead. Through their eyes, McGregor juxtaposes the hopeless macabre scene with the hopefulness of the past. Here, Robert bloated and smelling on his floor. There, Robert moving in with his wife Yvonne. Here, molded walls and empty beer cans, “crumbs of comfort scattering across the floor”; there, a recently papered bathroom and the promising orderliness of a new flat. Yesterday’s sun. Today’s “bruised purple sky.” The contrast rendered by McGregor is stark and telling. But even during the flashbacks to better times, the premonitions of Robert’s demise appear: as the couple celebrates the start of their life with a bath, “peppered spores of mould thicken and spread towards the ceiling.” This doesn’t end well. Yvonne is gone, Robert is dead, and his helpless ghost-friends can only watch and record.
Interviewed by Alex Gilvarry
Saïd Sayrafiezadeh is the author of the memoir When Skateboards Will Be Free, which has just been released in paperback from Random House. Saïd was born in Brooklyn to a Jewish American mother and an Iranian father, and was raised by his mother in Pittsburgh, where much of the book takes place. It is a revealing portrait of Saïd’s childhood, the pains of growing up in a single-parent household devoted to the Socialist Worker’s Party. But at its core it is the story of an American childhood made complicated by politics and paternal estrangement. The book is a revelation of honest-to-god storytelling, “heartbreaking and hilarious…” said The Guardian, where it was an editor’s pick. And in 2009 it was selected as one of the 10 best books by Dwight Garner of The New York Times.
Saïd’s short stories and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, The New York Times Book Review, and numerous other publications. And his most recent short story, “Appetite,” was published in the March 1, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.
He lives in New York City.
Letter from the Editor
If you’re anything like me, you prowl the table displays and bookshelves of your local bookseller each week with a list that’s been building in your head for years, even decades. The list is long and ambitious, growing more so. It’s an impossible task we’ve set upon, but as long as we’re still breathing, we’ve resolved to hold ourselves to it.
What are we looking for?
In Las Vegas, a city famous for its extravagant and perpetual avoidance of reality, even the natural disasters are unnatural. Lake Mead—the largest man made body of water in the world and chief water supply for the city—is draining at a staggering rate. A major drought in the city wouldn’t really be a drought, not technically anyway, but the terrain protesting its own facelift. Las Vegas is rightly a desert. A little over two hundred years ago, this changed. Aberrant rains pummeled the area, bullied its hard sands and dry brush into lush, green meadows. But this transformation wasn’t to last. The new vegetation had no roots, no intentions of staying. Soon enough, the land struggled to reveal its true nature. But Las Vegas was having none of it. The city pressed on, refusing defeat, solving one problem after the next in order to survive.
The cover copy for Zachary German’s Eat When You Feel Sad advertises that protagonist Robert “feeds his cat, watches television and drinks beer. He gets mustard on his clothes, rides a bicycle and talks on Gmail chat.” Put aside any cynical suspicion that the novel will miss that high bar, for Robert in fact engages in each listed activity, plus things the cover copy doesn’t even mention, like masturbation and vegan cooking.
The Delighted States: A Book of Novels, Romances, & Their Unknown Translators, Containing Ten Languages, Set on Four Continents, & Accompanied by Maps, Portraits, Squiggles, Illustrations, & a Variety of Helpful Indexes
“One way of becoming happier with the history of an art is to realize that every work, as an aesthetic value, is never quite irrelevant.”
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