Roy

Roy
by Nate Waggoner

When he was a boy, Roy Sullivan was out in the fields, hacking away at grain with a scythe. Picture a turn of the 20th century kid, maybe in overalls, sweating, buzz cut, diligent, serious. An expansive field lies in every direction around him. This grim tool in his hand, the tool of a psychopomp, the last tool you ever see. The way Death might show up with it one day and attack you crossing the street, or might wait around in your room with you for months, checking his phone. Little Roy cut and cut in the Southern sun, and the sun went away and clouds crept out, and a bolt of lightning struck his blade, bounced off it and sets the crops on fire.

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A Precise Arrangement of Grief: A Review of duncan b. barlow’s “A Dog Between Us”

I really ought to dislike duncan b. barlow’s writing. He writes in tiny punchy sentences, and to make them, he sometimes divides complete sentences into ungrammatical clauses. I am a Proustian all the way, insisting as I do on long winding sentences with many joined clauses, using commas to get my way, breathing only when necessary. (See?) But goddamn if I don’t love barlow’s writing anyway. Goddamn if he hasn’t done it again, whatever incredible thing he does as a writer, with his new novel, A Dog Between Us. It’s an intense piece of work, revolving as it does around two people in the narrator’s life who are dying in different ways. Its shape and symmetry remain elusive, and its plotlines taper instead of ending. But the reading experience is akin to—if you’ve never done this, I pity you—sitting on a plastic sled attached to the back of a moving vehicle. Joy and danger mixed together, roped to an unfailing engine dragging you along.

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