Hillary Leftwich on the Unruly Ghosts Haunting Her Work

Hillary Leftwich

Hillary Leftwich has a knack for titles. Her new collection has arguably the best one I’ve encountered this year: Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock. In it, she combines surreal fiction, sharply-composed poetry, and taut nonfiction into an unpredictable and compelling whole. In addition to her book, she’s also the person behind the reading series At the Inkwell Denver; in other words, Leftwich is someone who can approach literature from many sides. I talked with her via email about the range of work in her collection, literary kindred spirits, and her handling of class.

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D. Harlan Wilson on the Literary Afterlife of Daniel Paul Schreber

D. Harlan Wilson

The Psychotic Dr. Schreber, the latest book from D. Harlan Wilson, is a nearly indescribable blend of unsettling fiction, historical rumination, and cultural criticism. It’s also an utterly gripping literary work, one that takes bold risks and makes incredible use of an unconventional structure. In revisiting the life of a man best-known for Sigmund Freud’s writing on his case, Wilson details the ways in which Schreber remains relevant today — and traces the way he’s left his mark on everything from medical history to popular culture. I talked with Wilson about the genesis of the book and its unexpected scope via email.

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The Unexpected Fun and Disquieting Worlds of Oliver Zarandi

Oliver Zarandi

Full disclosure: I blurbed Oliver Zarandi’s new collection Soft Fruit in the Sun, so I’m not exactly an impartial observer when it comes to his writing. But that’s not a bad thing: Zarandi is a writer worth championing, someone whose writing takes readers to wholly unexpected places and revels in bizarre yet familiar imagery. And so we talked about the making of his collection, the writers he admirers most, and what his take is on the current Premier League season.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Paul Crenshaw

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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Songs Without Music: A Conversation with Cathy Ulrich

Cathy Ulrich

“The thing about being the murdered girl is you set the plot in motion.” All 31 pieces of flash fiction in Cathy Ulrich’s debut collection Ghosts of You (Okay Donkey Press) begin with a variation of this sentence. Ulrich is a writer from Montana, whose work has appeared in Fiction Southeast, Cleaver Magazine, and The Atticus Review, among other venues. In Ghosts of You, she gives the murdered girls and women so frequently used as plot devices back their stories. In this conversation, Ulrich explains her deft use of repetition, the anger that fueled the collection, and the influence Law and Order reruns had on the collection.

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An Unexpected Portrait of a Fictional Seattle: Talking “Emerald City” With Brian Birnbaum

Brian Birnbaum

Some novels hew their focus to one particular character or motif, pushing that theme through infinite permutations. Others opt for a sprawling and vivid campus, sometimes combining elements in ways that have never been seen before. That’s the case with Brian Birnbaum and his novel Emerald CityIt’s at once a portrait of institutional corruption, a description of a familial relationship unlike many that show up in the pages of fiction, and an illustration of changes taking place in the city of Seattle. I spoke with Birnbaum about the genesis of his novel and how its unique structure evolved.

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“I’m Looking For the Surreal Moments of Real Life”: An Interview With Jac Jemc

Jac Jemc

Whether she’s navigating the secrets people keep from one another or venturing into the world of the uncanny, Jac Jemc has established a particularly haunting corner of fiction where she explores the unpredictable and disquieting. This week brings with it the release of False Bingo, her second collection of short fiction, and one which demonstrates Jemc’s impressive range as a writer. I talked with her about the collection’s origins, her work in both the supernatural and realistic, and caught a glimpse of what might be next from her.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Chuck Greaves

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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