Lance Olsen and John Domini Talk About Cities as Fictions, Political Daymares, and Never Being at Home

Domini and Olsen covers

Lance Olsen and John Domini have followed each other’s work for years, sharing an attraction to the edges of the fictional enterprise, to experiment and risk. Olsen has many works of fiction and non-fiction, and his awards include the Guggenheim. Domini too has published widely, in all genres, and won an NEA Fellowship. Both have spent extended time abroad, Olsen in Germany, Domini in Italy. Not till now, however, did they share new titles with similar core concern— namely, a European city going through a radical change.  In Domini’s case, in his novel The Color Inside a Melon, this was contemporary Naples, over a single hectic week. Olsen’s latest, My Red Heaven, considers a June day in Berlin, in 1927. 

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Dreams Upended, With Horror: A Review of Peter Stenson’s “Thirty Seven”

“I know all this,” claims the narrator of Peter Stenson’s scarring and hard-to-shake second novel, “because humans are all fundamentally the same. We are a desk of control switches in a recording studio. Our only differences are the… levels and mixing.” This bleak notion proves a navigational star for the narrative, one that draws us on even as it makes our skin crawl.

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Uncanny Americana: A Review of David S. Atkinson’s “Roses are Red, Violets are Stealing Loose Change from my Pockets While I Sleep”

Though awfully brief, the hundred-plus fictions in this collection all have be considered tall, as in “tall tales.” All of them stretch plausibility till it snaps, sketching quandaries of a surreal bumptiousness far beyond what we read in most flash fiction. The short-short form tends towards quieter epiphanies, the hurts and discoveries of the ordinary, but David Atkinson is having none of that. In one story a bizarre super-creature, more or less immortal, “replaced the bricks of the Pyramids with […]

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Pop Culture Tropes and Chilling Satire: A Review of Kurt Baumeister’s “Pax Americana”

  These are dark times for black comedy, especially if a humorist takes on American politics. A mere novel, it would seem, can never match the Real World. The problem clearly occurred to Kurt Baumeister, because he took his nasty jibes to another world. The title of his bleak yet bubbly Pax Americana smacks of satire, but also sketches a power structure that doesn’t quite match up with our own. Obama never happened, in Americana; rather, 2009 saw the Third […]

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