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.

Continue Reading

“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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

“A Meditation, A Cleansing”: Michael J. Seidlinger on Writing “Dreams of Being”

Michael J. Seidlinger

Michael J. Seidlinger’s new novel Dreams of Being is simultaneously a haunting story of depression, an ode to delicious food, and one of the most unsettling takes on the creative process I’ve read in a long time. In telling the story of the bond between a novice filmmaker and an expert in sushi, Seidlinger has created a fantastic book on isolation and frustration; even better, it’s a memorably immersive read. I spoke with Seidlinger about the book’s genesis, its literary lineage, and more.

Continue Reading

Revisiting Steve Reich: Erik Hall on His New Recording of “Music for 18 Musicians”

Erik Hall

Erik Hall isn’t 18 musicians, but you could be forgiven for thinking that he is. He’s recorded music as a solo artist and with the group In Tall Buildings; before that, he also had stints in His Name Is Alive and NOMO. For his new album, he opted for a particularly ambitious maneuver: recording Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians. The ensuing record is both a loving version of a minimalist classic and a work that shows the impressive flexibility within Reich’s composition. I talked with Hall about the making of this album and his own musical journey over the years.

Continue Reading

Six Ridiculous Questions: Kim Vodicka

kim vodicka

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.

Continue Reading

Amy Berkowitz on the Rebirth of “Tender Points”

Amy Berkowitz

Sometime in February, Alexandra Naughton met up with Amy Berkowitz at a cafe in San Francisco to talk about the re-release of Berkowitz’s book Tender Points (an incredible and extremely readable lyric essay on the topic of trauma and chronic pain) by Nightboat Books. 

The pair sat at an outside picnic table in San Francisco, before the reality of the pandemic hit the United States, and discussed what’s changed since Tender Points was first published in 2015, zines, the roles of trauma and disability in literature, what Berkowitz and Naughton are working on these days, and the birds in their immediate surroundings.

Continue Reading

Vaporwave, Malls, and Reimagining Genre: An Interview With JD Scott

JD Scott cover

JD Scott‘s new collection Moonflower, Nightshade, All the Hours of the Day is a quietly devastating powerhouse of a book. Scott’s characters grapple with horrific traumas; they also encounter immortal chinchillas and globe-spanning malls. These are stories that occupy familiar spaces but also tie in with mythic resonances; the end result, then, is a book that feels both familiar and subtly groundbreaking. I talked with Scott via email about the genesis of their book and finding the balance of the quotidian and the revelatory.

Continue Reading