Cynan Jones’s books tend to rest on the intersection of the interior struggles of his characters and the exterior challenges the elements present. It is only through navigating the difficulties in the natural world that the characters are able to excavate the emotional dilemmas they’re unable to process—certainly, the elements, the land, and the creatures dying at the hands of the characters are symbolic of his characters’ moods, but there is always something else happening beyond Jones’s use of setting […]
I first met Jordan A. Rothacker at the Astrophil Press/South Dakota Review booth during the AWP conference in Washington DC. He was carrying a copy of his novel, And Wind will Wash Away and I found it in my hands very quickly. At first, I was a little taken aback by his direct and spirited personality. It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that Jordan is a gregarious and kind man who, like so many of us, is just […]
When I consider authors that have inspired me over the years, there is perhaps no fingerprint more pronounced than that of Brian Evenson’s. It was, after all, upon seeing Evenson read “The Polygamy of Language,” that brought me upon the path that I’m on today as a writer, precisely, a writer of fiction. Evenson’s work showed me, in a way I had not encountered previously, that narrative could grapple with metaphysics and language, and it was as if the chair […]
There is at the core of the American writing tradition an interest in haunts, specters, and otherworldliness as they allow play, or what Hawthorne refers to as “a certain latitude” in fashion and form. Jac Jemc’s latest book on FSG Originals, The Grip of It, seems to me to honor this tradition while finding its own voice. On the surface, the book is a haunted house story—the story of a couple who move away from the rush and clank of […]
One of the first books to come from the mysterious but promising new press, Inside the Castle, is M. Kitchell’s Hour of the Wolf. Deceivingly thin, Hour of the Wolf is a dense assemblage of an incredibly readable but decentering book. Kitchell divides the books between cycles (first, second, third, fourth, and final). However, before and after the reader arrives at the first cycle, Kitchell’s book begins a slow transition into the dark of dreamless nights. Beginning with a […]
The Long Dry by Cynan Jones is the third book that Coffee House Press has released in the United States and though it doesn’t have some of the mystery and action that provides a sense of urgency to his previous novel, Everything I Found on the Beach, The Long Dry is still a driving novel in its own right, which is due in some part to the slim chapters and clever sequencing of the book.
Matt Bell has become a force in American literature and this is in no small part due to his flexibility in style. His latest collection of stories A Tree or a Person or a Wall is perhaps the most comprehensive example of his stylistic diversity. The collection begins with the title story “A Tree or a Person or a Wall,” which is a story about a boy that finds himself captive in a room with a rather temperamental albino ape. […]
Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers is a heartbreaking work that riffs off Emily Dickinson’s poem “‘Hope’ is the Thing with Feathers” emptying it of its signification, filling it with black feathers, cursing crows, and loss. What I find most fascinating about the book is the very thing I didn’t seem to care for when I began reading. He lays symbolic representation naked upon the page in such a way that the reader must struggle with the overt […]