Where Art, Life, and Simulations Meet: A Review of Shane Jones’s “Vincent and Alice and Alice”

Shane Jones book cover

Vincent is just a guy, who has “just an office job” working for “the State” in the fictional town of A-ville. He used to be a painter, until “the shame of not selling paintings [made him] give up.” Unlike his namesake, he doesn’t sever his ear in the depths of despair; he enrolls in the experimental “PER” program offered by the bureaucratic Leader Dorian Blood, designed to increase worker happiness and productivity. The program requires a total devotion to data-entry, and dictates Vincent’s routine even outside of his 9-5 work, but it simultaneously walks him through his “ideal gate.” Once through his ideal gate, he carries out the same perfected routine, but feels in every way as though he is living his deepest subconscious fantasy. For most workers, this fantasy expresses itself as the material gain that we conflate with corporate success: a nicer car, a house with a pool, time to do and be nothing. For Vincent, this fantasy turns out to be exactly the same as his reality, except it includes his ex-wife Alice, an activist who left Vincent once the grayness of his work seeped out into the rest of his life.

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“Discomfort Is Pretty Universal”: Jaime Fountaine on Her Novella “Manhunt”

My first encounter with Jaime Fountaine came via her role as one of the two hosts of Philadelphia’s Tire Fire Reading Series. Then we had the good fortune of publishing her essay “19, 16, and 1” here at Vol.1 Brooklyn, showing off another side of her literary works. This summer brings with it the release of her debut novella Manhunt, the story of a teenage girl dealing with her complex relationship with her mother, the mundane horrors of growing up, and the restrictions of suburbia. I talked with Fountaine about her book, suburban landscapes, and the game that gave her book its title.

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Charting Blurred Boundaries: A Review of Jia Tolentino’s “Trick Mirror”

"Trick Mirror" cover

When you look into a funhouse mirror, and your body appears stretched out or warped, you believe that reality is being distorted. You are confident that what youre seeing in front of you is not how things really are. But what happens when youre no longer looking into a mirror? What if youre looking into a computer screen, or a book, or someone elses face? Suddenly, its much more difficult to delineate whats true from whats not. 

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Pam Jones

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.

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A New Kind of Indie Publisher Opens its Doors in Brooklyn

This summer, I got the chance to correspond with Sarah Lopez, one of the co-owners of Radix Media, a new Brooklyn-based publisher that focuses on beautifully designed, illustrated books with a high attention to detail. So far, they’ve published speculative works by John Dermot Woods, Vera Kurian, Ashley Shelby, and others. All look and feel like collector’s items, objects that truly do justice to the ideas they contain.

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Making Postpunk in the Shadow of History: An Interview With Trupa Trupa

The music made by Polish post-punks Trupa Trupa finds a haunting balance between intensity and off-beat melodies, even as the group’s lyrics juxtapose the absurd with the harrowing. Their next album, Of the Sun, is due out next month on Lovitt Records, and they’ll be touring the US in October — including a stop at Union Pool on October 8. I talked with singer-guitarist Grzegorz Kwiatkowski about the group’s music, his poetry, and the place where they all converge.

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Vol.1 Brooklyn’s August 2019 Book Preview

August brings with it hotter temperatures, a vision of a more humid life, and the slightest hint that fall might be on the way. August also brings with it a host of thought-provoking books, deftly-translated works from around the world, and imaginative fiction that riffs on contemporary concerns. Here’s a look at some of the books due out this month that have us most excited.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Jordan A. Rothacker

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.

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