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Before Donald Trump began his march to the White House, before he had his own line of clothing, and before he had his own television show, he was simply a real- estate mogul, setting up casino after casino in Atlantic City. Before Trump dug his grubby paws into the sand, though, Atlantic City was a place of fortune tellers and food stands, a place where families could go for a day or a week to get away from their lives in the New Jersey and Philadelphia suburbs. Louis Greenstein’s debut novel, Mr. Boardwalk (New Door Books, 2014) chronicles that time, when things at least seemed simpler—not counting the racial politics that are glossed over by the suburbanites, narrator of the novel included.

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 The first thing you need to know is that I’m not Chinese.
My name is Raymond Wong and I stopped being Chinese
at the age of five.

And so begins Raymond Wong’s touching account of his own coming of age as a Chinese American. I’m Not Chinese is part memoir, part travelogue, part lyric essay, and it is entirely warm and moving. Wong takes us with him on his journey from resentment to openness and insight, and his is a book that, while appearing at first unassuming, is, we come to realize, thick with humor and understanding.

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Vanessa Blakeslee’s short story collection, Train Shots (Burrow Press, 2014), gives you a little pause. True to the title, the breaths between stories are like the pauses in between downing shots.

Blakeslee is not afraid to end things on a suspenseful note, and I still find myself wondering about the fates of some of the characters.  For example, Layla in “Barbecue Rabbit” kept me up at night, wondering about her and her unhappy, psychopathic son, Ethan. The ending  gives such a rush. Without spoilers, let’s just say I wonder how many people wind up getting listed in the police report. It is rare to find an author who creates characters that stay with you so vividly once the book is closed.

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In her collection of poems, Reports (New Rivers Press, 2013), Kathryn Levy presents a distillation of hurt, regret, and wonder. This is verse that eschews sentiment. These poems toss aside pat notions of speaker and story, offering up instead imperative, Delphic pronouncements in clipped, syncopated lines that exhibit a charged urgency. Reports reads like telegraphic shorthand:

I have to get back—she can’t

rest tonight

—unless I return

and embrace her

(from “Got to Get Back”)

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In her debut novel Mosh It Up, Mindela Ruby proves that she’s done her time in mosh pits. She knows what it means to be loud, fast, and punk and Ruby’s characters are alive with this same energy.

Mosh It Up is about Boop, a San Francisco punk of the punk-revival 1990s, when “real” punks acted curmudgeonly because bands like Green Day were rocketing to success while the real punks continued to play dingy basements and do drugs in dirty bathrooms.

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Meyegraine 56 image

Meyegraine 56

 

These gorgeous pictures were taken in the Faroe Islands … check them out here: The Gallery

And for more art from our past contributors, please visit our archives: The Museum

For the first few months of a job—maybe a year—you feel you have a great thing, until the boredom, the stagnation, the frustration, the repetitiveness sets in. You want out, but it is also your livelihood. You feel hinged between two places, and the powerlessness of it all, until you make that big decision to let it go.

Gary Beck’s collection, Songs of a Clerk (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014), hearkens back to those moments of job dissatisfaction I have experienced, yet in reading this collection, I travel back vicariously, enjoying the journey with Beck.

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