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Modern Humans Are Probably Easier to Unwrap: JEFF VANDERMEER with Jacob Blumenfeld

Jeff VanderMeer writes weird fiction and eco-fiction. He also edits science fiction, horror, and fantasy anthologies with his partner, Ann VanderMeer.

In Conversation

Bed-Stuy's Many Faces of Gentrification:
BRIAN PLATZER with Liz von Klemperer

Brian Platzer’s debut novel Bed-Stuy is Burning is to Brooklyn gentrification and police brutality what The Day After Tomorrow is to climate change.

In Conversation

The Revealing Science of Prog: DAVID WEIGEL with Rick Moody

At some outlet mall in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, I found a cheap tape of The Yes Album and I was hooked. The melodies weren’t just solid—the songs zigged from place to place. I’d never heard anything experimental, so when I got Close to the Edge and heard 50 seconds of nature sounds, I wondered if I had a bad tape. BAM—there was the band, crashing in with this incredible sound.

Her Body, Herself: Hunger by Roxane Gay

I had a fiction professor once who said something about memoir writing that stuck with me. The gist of it was that memoirs are difficult because so few people have “earned” the right to tell us about their lives.

Changing Climate

A fighter jet slices through the mute heat of the desert, momentarily chasing off strange mirages and small lizards. Tucked away in the desiccated hellscape between California’s Death Valley and Mojave Desert sits a sprawling military research complex—the largest U.S. Navy landholding in the world.

In Conversation

Giving Voice to What's Unsaid: FRED MARCHANT with Olivia Kate Cerrone

Fred Marchant’s powerful new collection Said Not Said, recently published by Graywolf Press, examines the necessities of life and survival in a world ravaged by war, violence, illness and political corruption.

God in the Machine

The epiphany machine wants to know our secrets, the ones we show to everyone but ourselves. I know the conceit well, too: we keep making the same mistakes; the pattern is obvious to everyone except ourselves, because we are too busy performing our various social scripts to know anything about the performance, or whether we are still performing, or whether we are ever not performing.

In Conversation

Through the Viewfinder: PAMELA RYDER with Peter Markus

Pamela Ryder writes sentences like no other writer I know. I remember my first encounter with her fiction, a story called “Hovenweep” as it appeared as the opening story in Gordon Lish’s The Quarterly #29, a story that begins, “We are too much in the open here: sky, sky, slick rock, heat, and high above us the circling birds.” What is this word Hovenweep?

Dan Egan's The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

I’m as anti-pun as the next guy, so forgive me: I was sucked in by the sea lampreys.

In Conversation

MATT HART with Weston Cutter

This is now the third time I’ve interviewed Matt Hart for a publication, which seems strange simply because, when I first witnessed him, he sorta scared me. If you’ve seen him, you know: Matt’s engaged and loud at his readings, as interested in polyphony and aural dynamics as he is in transmitting verbal info (if you write, you likely leave his readings wondering why you’re not doing the same as he does, or at least that’s how I feel).

In Conversation

MAILE MELOY with Weston Cutter

I guess I’m curious how this book even began. There feel to be competing claims or developments—or I can imagine, I guess, different onramps (a pair of close relatives vacationing together on a cruise; a set of kids getting lost; a story of a little girl trying to make her way north). Was there some specific instance that initiated it all, that you kept coming back to?

Deb Olin Unferth's Wait Till You See Me Dance: Stories

It's been said that most people live small lives of quiet desperation. While this is true of many of the people in her stories, Deb Olin Unferth writes their desperation large. Reviews of Unferth’s new collection, Wait Till You See Me Dance...

Julia Fierro's The Gypsy Moth Summer

Do we live in our dreams or are we more fully realized in the events that surround us? Is our consumption of literature and fairytales useful in unraveling the intensity of what life throws our way? The Gypsy Moth Summer reads like a fairytale, complete with an enchanted maze that twists the lives of those who enter, just as these same lives run smack up against the Long Island-esque garden’s wall of cancer, race, and class war. 

Maile Meloy's Do Not Become Alarmed

The first Maile (pronounced, just so you’re hearing it correctly in your head from here out: my-lee) Meloy thing I remember reading was the story about the guy who does proxy marriages with his crush/friend for quick/easy cash (it was in the New Yorker in ’12 and is called “The Proxy Marriage”); it was a pretty story, and freighted, and it had a weird magnetism to it, but it didn’t upend me. The story that did that was/is her masterful “Two-step,” which is in her absolutely perfect collection Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, and I’m better off not getting into the story and my almost rhapsodic fervency for it. It’s among the very best American short stories written in the last thirty years.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUL-AUG 2017

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