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In Conversation

JOHN DOMINI with Christina Milletti

At the outset of John Domini’s book of essays and criticism, The Sea God’s Herb (Dzanc Books, 2014), he reflects on the trajectory of his writing over the past several decades—three novels, with a fourth novel out next year, a book of poems, and two story collections, in addition to Movieola!, published this summer—before diving into a cross-section of writers, past and present, who each in their own way advance what he calls “non-traditional storytelling:” writing that pushes expectations, searches beyond borders, writing that reconfigures ordinary language in extraordinary ways.

Harlem to the Moon

Flashforward to today, as many years have passed as there are keys on a piano, Joe Okonkwo pops the cork with a fresh look at this still nourishing and fattening slice of history. In his debut novel, the author best known for his short fiction, brings the place, the era, the voice to life with glorious authenticity.

The Critics and the Chroniclers: Four Writers on Food in Our Times

The Irish Arts Center’s Pen, Paper, and Palate literary salon this past May, a conversation among four food writers at The Half King in Chelsea, suggested two curiously opposite directions in modern food writing.

In Conversation

To Boldly Go: ANN VANDERMEER & JEFF VANDERMEER With Nancy Hightower

By drawing from 20th-century works from local and international authors, the VanderMeer’s extraordinary compilation questions the clichéd boundaries around what is considered “literary” or “science fiction.”

In Conversation

The Writers' Writers: Bookmarked Series by Ig Publishing

If you were to choose one novel that was fundamental to you as a writer, what would it be? This is the question Robert Lasner, editor at Ig Publishing, asked a handful of authors. The result is Bookmarked, his new series that features writers devoting an entire book to discussing their choices.

In Conversation

SARA BAUME with Torrey Crim

There is beauty in everything, the novel argues, if you take the time to see it, and at the final page one might look at one’s own surroundings with the sense that, in Baume’s words, “Now everything holds a diaphanous kind of potential.”

In Conversation

Caring for the Underdog: JEROME CHARYN with Alex Dueben

Today many literary figures regularly jump between forms and genres with ease but Jerome Charyn has been doing that throughout his long career.

Canon Fodder

It’s weirdly easy to no longer be quite so shocked by what John D’Agata’s pulled off with his three-volume American Essay series for Graywolf.

Nothing Embarrassing or Strange: Curating KGB Bar’s Writers’ Series

t’s Harvard Lampoon night at the East Village’s famed KGB bar, and Suzanne Dottino, its Sunday night reading series curator for fourteen years, has arrived early to make sure things run smoothly.

The What is That

Yet here we are now with Bob Hicok’s latest collection, Sex & Love &, and it’s a book resolutely concerned, as ever, with the tiny infinite aspects of life, those smallest irreducible bits of existence that constitute what buzzing hum we sometimes believe we hear, but this one’s using sex and love as its entrance point to those tiny bits.

Status Update: MATTHEW VOLLMER Speaks with Joseph Salvatore

Recently the writer Matthew Vollmer began posting a series of beguiling, engaging, and suspiciously literary status updates on his Facebook page.

In Conversation

Expanding the Possibilities of Story: AMBER SPARKS with John Madera

Love and death, as themes, figure prominently throughout The Unfinished World and Other Stories, and they’re often threaded, knotted, or otherwise mangled together when they appear.

In Conversation

BELINDA MCKEON with Torrey Crim

Belinda McKeon’s second novel, Tender, opens in 1997 in Dublin and follows a young woman, Catherine, and the shades of love that she has for her friend James as they navigate their early adulthood at Trinity, and is set against the last years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the recent decriminalization of homosexuality.

In Conversation

BLAIR BRAVERMAN with Leigh Kamping‑Carder

A few minutes into my phone call with Blair Braverman, the line goes silent. A wolf is prowling outside her window. “It’s very cute,” she says, distracted. All in a day’s work for Braverman, the twenty-eight-year-old author of Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North, a memoir of her experiences living in Norway and Alaska that came out in early July.

Father Figures

Hisham Matar has finally stopped beating around the bush and is telling us his story straight. Matar is the author of two very good novels (his 2006 debut, In the Country of Men, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize; it was followed by Anatomy of a Disappearance in 2011) that deal with, among other themes, political dissent and intrigue, exile, oppressive regimes, and, at their center, absent fathers.

Artistic Wanderings

Gauguin is one of six artists featured in Jamie James’s new group biography-essay-memoir-history book, The Glamour of Strangeness: Artists and the Last Age of the Exotic. The other five artists, like Gauguin, fled their dull or stultifying home countries in search of new, more “exotic” homes, whose very strangeness would allow them to reach new creative frontiers.

In Conversation

DYLAN HICKS with Evan Lavender‑Smith

Hicks’s second novel, Amateurs, is a send-up of the publishing world: heir to a sex-toy empire, wannabe literary luminary Archer Bondarenko employs down-on-her-luck MFA grad Sara Crennel to ghostwrite for him; soon Archer is enjoying a spot on the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list that should have been Sara’s.

The Unfinished World of the Short Story

Amber Sparks’s new collection of stories, The Unfinished World and Other Stories, is aptly named. It contains the frustration, if not the paradox, that all short stories do: that the time represented within the story is all the reader receives, but which cannot possibly give the fullness of life itself.

The Barely-There Before or: Paradise Lost (& Found)

The experience of reading Among the Dead and Dreaming is not unlike watching a soap opera, or a slasher film, or a Greek tragedy, or even a car crash; a catastrophic collision on the interstate where bodies and objects evacuate and disperse and hang for a moment, or half a page, and ultimately fall, which is actually the novel’s entry point, the vehicle that sets this polyphonic operatic tragic romance or romantic tragedy in action.

In Conversation

RUMAAN ALAM with Catherine LaSota

Rich and Pretty, the début novel by Rumaan Alam, has received much well-deserved acclaim. On the surface, one might categorize the book as another breezy summer release about two young women and their trials in New York City, but a reader doesn’t need to get very far into the text to understand why Lincee Ray of the Washington Post, for one, has proclaimed that Alam “transforms a whimsical beach read into compelling literary prose.”

The Fog Machine

On New Year’s Eve of 2004, Khalid El-Masri, a German car salesman of Lebanese origin, was on a brief holiday in Macedonia.

Trove of Secrets

Diane Arbus knew Lauro Morales, a dwarf who performed at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, for fourteen years. She made pictures of him backstage, in the circus ring, and in his hotel room.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2016

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