A Very Massachusetts Apocalypse: On Paul Tremblay’s “Survivor Song”

"Survivor Song" cover

Paul Tremblay’s Survivor Song is a prescient novel that is being published at the perfect time. In fact, it so timely that I almost feel like every reviewer should remind readers that writing a novel, editing it, sending it to an agent, selling it, and then editing it again is a long process, so when they read this and think “Wow, this is ridiculously prophetic!” they need to remember that Tremblay wrote it way before the current pandemic. 

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Excursions Into the Bizarre: A Review of Kathe Koja’s “Velocities”

"Velocities" cover

My first encounter with Kathe Koja came via the novels published by the surreal horror imprint Dell Abyss in the 1990s. The Cipher and Bad Brains were profoundly unsettling works on their own, as well as memorably serving as proof of concept for a more unsettling strain of horror that opted less for scares than for dread. Since then, Koja’s milieu has only expanded; with books like Under the Poppy, she’s displayed a penchant for forays into history, and her body of work also involves an extended commitment to theater.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Kathe Koja

Kathe Koja

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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“The Only Conspiracy is the Conspiracy of White Supremacy”: An Interview With Brian Castleberry

Castleberry author photo

In his debut novel, Nine Shiny Objects, Brian Castleberry peels back the veneer of a rosy, postwar America, exposing the messy inner workings beneath. The novel is divided into nine hefty sections, each with a different protagonist whose life intersects in one way or another with a mysterious UFO cult. The book begins in 1947 with Oliver Danville, a small-time Chicagoan hustler, who, after witnessing a murder and reading about a strange UFO sighting, feels compelled to head west to investigate. Danville eventually establishes a group called “the Seekers,” and what follows is one chance encounter after another, as the story wends from coast to coast, spanning four decades, and all the while explores the limits of utopian dreams and the reactionary forces poised to strike them down. A whole world populates this richly woven novel: farmers, rock stars, city folks and suburbanites, a poet, a salesman, a conspiracy radio talk show host, and more. This is an American novel with heavy American themes, and at the same time, Castleberry reveals the humor in the absurd. In an email exchange, the author discussed with me some of these themes and how the book came to exist.

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A Surreal Voyage Into a Collapsing Life: Kevin Bigley’s “Comaville” Reviewed

"Comaville" cover

You could fill a bookshelf with fictional work set in a character’s imagination during a life-or-death struggle. From Shane Jones’s Daniel Fights a Hurricane to Ian Edington and D’Israeli’s Kingdom of the Wicked, storytellers have seized on the opportunity to blend phantasmagorical imagery with psychological acuity, creating works that can resonate on multiple levels. There are others I could mention, but to reveal some of them would be to spoil a narrative twist. With Kevin Bigley’s debut novel Comaville, there’s little doubt as to where the novel’s protagonist is — it’s right there in the title.

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Tour or No Tour: Why I Won’t Shut Up About My Book

"Born to be Public" cover

I’ve spent the majority of my twenties working on my upcoming book. I will be twenty-nine when it comes out in August. In a way, it grew up with me: from getting the idea for it after graduating from Hofstra University in 2013, to outlining it in my first apartment a year later, in Harlem, to writing it on breaks during my various day jobs, to deleting over thirty-thousand words and starting over after moving to Brooklyn two years later, to getting an agent, to losing said agent a year later, when they left agenting for publicity, until eventually securing a book deal on my own with a small, albeit mighty and rapidly growing, independent press. Round after round of edits. 

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Six Ridiculous Questions: James Reich

James Reich

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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