Winter Issue 2019

1. I have begun listening to music again, needing something sweet in a hard world. I have been pleasantly surprised going from one Tiny Desk Concert to another. It’s a kind of shock to feel certain things again, to remember how much you used to feel, to realize how long you’ve gone without feeling. ThereContinue reading “Winter Issue 2019”

Winter Issue 2017

Build yourself a time capsule. Fill it up with the excess portion of your disappointment and disgust. Stuff it with the nausea induced by their unending, towering lies. Pour in the words you need to remember. You will need these things later, and you will be glad to have them close at hand. They willContinue reading “Winter Issue 2017”

Summer Issue 2016

  The Cupboard is not where we store our politics (though you could probably infer where we stand after a relatively superficial skim), so I’m not referring to the U.S. presidential race when I say that it’s been a difficult summer. Some people are safer than ever, golden parachutes and all; others are living through violence that would not be outContinue reading “Summer Issue 2016”

Winter Issue 2016

One remembers. One forgets. Snow drifts down and specks the tops of things. A man crosses the street to buy a sleeve of scratch cards from a kiosk. All the newspaper headlines are gloomy and ecstatic. A cheap pack of cigarettes now costs twelve bucks. Running into an old friend is like two roads convergingContinue reading “Winter Issue 2016”

A Big Packet of Unprotected Protein

The cephalopod, specifically the octopus, is our mascot for this autumnal lament/salute to impermanence. (Thank Sy Montgomery’s marvelous The Soul of an Octopus for our current obsession.) I’m thinking not only of its amorphous shape and feats of disguise—It can escape from its tank and squeeze into cracks in the wall! It can camouflage itself to look like a cloud passing over sand!—but also of its vulnerability. It’s aContinue reading “A Big Packet of Unprotected Protein”

Memoir, Travelogue, and Lyric: Raymond M. Wong’s “I’m Not Chinese”

 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, andContinue reading “Memoir, Travelogue, and Lyric: Raymond M. Wong’s “I’m Not Chinese””

Lush, Humid, and Lost: The Characters of Vanessa Blakeslee

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.Continue reading “Lush, Humid, and Lost: The Characters of Vanessa Blakeslee”

Dickinsonian, Delphic, and Dreamlike: Kathryn Levy’s “Reports”

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: IContinue reading “Dickinsonian, Delphic, and Dreamlike: Kathryn Levy’s “Reports””

Humor amidst chaos: Moshing it up with Mindela Ruby

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 actedContinue reading “Humor amidst chaos: Moshing it up with Mindela Ruby”

Grey-Suited and Bitter with Gary Beck’s “Clerk”

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 itContinue reading “Grey-Suited and Bitter with Gary Beck’s “Clerk””