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Archive for the ‘Nonfiction’ Category

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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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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You can’t even be somewhere without spending money anymore: to earn the right to perform your cellular respirations in any given square foot, you’d better have a receipt or be standing in line to get one. A cup of coffee buys you an unharassed half hour on a high stool; a jaunty shopping bag shields you from suspicion while you linger for a moment on a bench. I once spent time in a city where the mall for the affluent was protected by security guards with machine guns. The people they let in were taller, robust, pressed. The ones whose path they stepped into were slighter, hungrier, looser in their clothes. In another city a hemisphere away, sidewalk guards stepped in front of men from the provinces and told them that the parks and stores were closed. 

To be treated humanely, you must seem to be doing well. 

We’re still more interested in the friendless, the bereft, the people who are left out of the sanitized exchange of the marketplace, the bleaching streetlamps of public life, the invisible fences around gated communities. There are those who are completely outside, and those on the edges, who eke out their positions every day.  The story of the have-not is the only interesting narrative; stories of success are all alike: find your market, trade up. 

~T.M. De Vos, Editor

Current Issue

Poetry

Cathedral by Samir Atassi

Like Brothers and People Who Have Nothing by Roy Bentley

Friendless by Colin Dodds

Two Poems by Simon Perchik

Creative Nonfiction

The More Things Change, or How Facebook Has Ruined Reincarnation by Zeke Jarvis

Potato Chips by Jessica Wiseman Lawrence

Art Untied by Katy Masuga

Fiction

Cassandra by Lindsay Merbaum

The Greyhound by Wendy Vaizey

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I just returned from a work trip to Vegas and was reminded again of the immense darkness that lies behind the relentless marquees, the canned attractions, overdone resorts, and extraverted casinos. What intrigues me are the people, the ones who live off the scraps: the immigrants in stained shirts flicking pornographic cards at tourists; the oversunned men undoing the failed Harmon Hotel, tier by black-shrouded tier; the old men levitating objects on the sidewalks for spare change; the trio of girls in extensions and eyelashes who stood in the Cosmopolitan, smiling nervously at the men who ordered them. Those who have nothing extraordinary to show, or no money to buy the time and wares of others, are seen only in flickers: shadowy figures crossing the six-lane intersections, dragging their bags or carts or unresponsive limbs. They do not rest until the others have finished consuming and, when they do, they are always waking.

This issue is dedicated to the darkness—not necessarily melancholy or evil, but the unseen, quiet vacuum that lies between the attractions that compete for our conscious attention. From what do we turn when we look for diversion? From what do we hide when we fill our time with noise, with conversations, with souvenirs, with spectacles—with what I call the dimestore world?

~T.M. De Vos, Editor

Current Issue

Poetry

Meat and three by Rachel Adams

Dim, but not darker than me and What he pawned was black by Ashlie Allen

Inviable and Who Was the Girl in the Window? by Maureen Alsop

Deciding When to Die by Paul R. Davis

Our Dimension by Peycho Kanev

Three Poems by Simon Perchik

Strand, The Golem Visits Coney Island, and The Golem Rides the Amtrak by Yosef Rosen

Creative Nonfiction

Exhibit I[ntrovert] by Kristin Fitzsimmons

Fiction

Sleep Paralysis by Valerie Borey

Public Viewings by Chase Eversole

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Spring Nonfiction

In keeping with the theme of springtime travel, our current crop of nonfiction comes to us from a distance. The distance is literal, with stories originating in Cuba and the remote Chuvash Republic, in Russia; temporal, in their remembering and refiguring of the past and its losses; and figurative, in absenting the characters from the present—and even from another person. ~T.M. De Vos, Nonfiction Editor

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Delia

by Elizabeth Hanly

She wouldn’t open the door to me that morning. Not at first. “Delia,” I called.

Neighbors shouted down that I should go away. Delia lives less than a block from Havana’s bay on the second floor of what had long ago been a sumptuous building, in a neighborhood that before the revolution had been caliente with its gangsters and whores and remained so. (more…)

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Conceptually, this is one of the most unusual books I have ever read. We Bury the Landscape, by Kristine Ong Muslim, is a collection of 100 mini-stories based on works of visual art—paintings for the most part, but also drawings, and one photograph.

With the exception of William C. Tumley’s 1990 photograph of the environmental catastrophe that is the dried-up Aral Sea, all of the works of art are surrealist, at least in a loose sense. Dali, Ernst, and Magritte each have several works in the selection, as do more recent artists, such as Jacek Yerka and Jennifer Heffernan. (more…)

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In the Simpsons episode where Homer becomes a food critic, his love of food inspires a rave review of every restaurant he critiques. I worry that I may be the Homer Simpson of literary criticism, writing one glowing review after another.  However, like Homer, I am determined to find a way to expose the bad in everything I read. Fortunately or unfortunately, it won’t begin with Mitchell Jackson’s Oversoul. There are few, if any, unenthusiastic words to be said about this unusual collection.

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