The Ethics of Fiction, the Ethics of History: An Interview With Kristen Millares Young

Kristen Millares Young

Claudia, the protagonist of Kristen Millares Young‘s debut novel Subduction, is in a complicated place when the book opens. Her marriage has fallen apart, and she’s en route to conduct ethically fraught anthropological work in the Makah Nation. What follows is a haunting work about intimacy, tradition, and trust — and a thoroughly lived-in portrait of a place and a community. I talked with Young about the novel’s origin, its evolution, and how her own work echoed that of her protagonist.

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A New Documentary Explores the Lasting Appeal of the LP: Inside “Vinyl Nation”

"Vinyl Nation" art

Few musical formats have had the comeback narrative that vinyl has in the last decade or so. A new documentary film, Vinyl Nation, explores the enduring appeal of LPs and the subculture that’s grown around them recently — including the rise of Record Store Day. I talked with directors Kevin Smokler and Christopher Boone to learn more about the film’s origins and how the project came to fruition.

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“This History Has Not Had its Reckoning Yet”: An Interview With Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste

Since mid-2019, it’s been a busy literary time for Maaza Mengiste. Her novel The Shadow King, recently released in paperback, is set in Ethiopia in 1935, when Italy invaded. Blending a bold historical scope with questions of identity and gender, the result is a thrilling read — and one which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. This year also saw the release of the new anthology Addis Ababa Noir, which Mengiste edited; it’s a taut collection of thrilling stories that encompasses modes from the realistic to the uncanny. I spoke with Mengiste about her recent work, translation, and what’s next for her.

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Memory and Mysteries in an Ambiguous Space: A Review of “Armageddon House”

"Armageddon House" cover

This is, by definition, going to be a short review. That’s not to say that Michael Griffin’s Armageddon House doesn’t have a lot going on, both narratively and structurally — it absolutely does. But part of the pleasure of reading this book is trying to figure out exactly what’s going on. It’s not quite a mystery box narrative, but there are certainly elements of that present here. Having finished it, I certainly have my theories about what’s actually taking place within its pages, but I’m not necessarily sure if I’m correct. And that’s fine, honestly. 

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Literary History Gets a Cosmic Horror Remix: Notes on Nick Mamatas’s “Move Under Ground”

"Move Under Ground"

When it comes to literary techniques, pastiche can be one of the most subtly volatile out there. Most of the time when it’s utilized, it’s effectively invisible — effectively cloaking an author’s work in the voice of another. When it’s done badly, it can be utterly unbearable; I’ve still never been able to make it through the segment of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier in which Alan Moore channels Jack Kerouac. There’s something about Cthulthu mythos stories that brings pastiche to the foreground — there’s a Lovecraftian Wodehouse pastiche in the aforementioned Black Dossier, for instance, and it’s far from the only one. 

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Michael Zapruder Debuts His New Single “New Quarantine”

Michael Zapruder

We’re pleased to be debuting new music from Michael Zapruder. “New Quarantine” is the new single from Zapruder’s new album Latecomers. You may also know him via his earlier project Pink Thunder, which found him adapting 20 poems by a host of writers into critically acclaimed songs. I spoke with Zapruder about the song’s origins, its unexpected resonance in 2020, and the long process of making Latecomers.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Kurt Baumeister

Kurt Baumeister

The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance. (And in a very special edition of Six Ridiculous Questions, this time around it’s 6RQ creator Kurt Baumeister’s turn to get a host of bizarre questions. One might even call this turn of events “ridiculous.” -ed.)

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A Surreal Visit to Memphis: Sheree Renée Thomas on “Nine Bar Blues”

Sheree Renee Thomas Author Photo

What happens when you blend a loving portrait of Memphis, speculative and uncanny elements, and some gloriously pulpy imagery all into one highly compelling work of fiction? Well, you might get Nine Bar Blues, the new collection from Sheree Renée Thomas. Thomas’s collection resonates on its own frequency, moving from moments of wonder to those of terror and back again. I spoke with her about the origins of this collection and how she created such a powerful work.

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