In our weekend reading: interviews with Kathe Koja and Adam Wilson, thoughts on Julianna Barwick’s new album, and more.
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.
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.
In our morning reading: thoughts on books by Danez Smith and Kathryn Scanlan, an interview with Blanck Mass, and more.
Afternoon Bites: Benjamin DeVos, Yan Lianke’s Memoir, Lucinda Williams, Imbolo Mbue Interviewed, and More
In our afternoon reading: reviews of books by Benjamin DeVos and Yan Lianke, an interview with Imbolo Mbue, and more.
The Normal Strange
by Kathe Koja
What he carried to her he carried in a red string bag.
Life is strange. The aching break-up; the ferocious good luck that blooms from the blue; the infant’s amazing and fully expected birth; the shattering death of a loved one: when our outer and inner worlds are suddenly transformed or shaken, never to be the same, we say, This feels unreal. We say, Life is so strange.
Two years ago, the Midwestern book tour I was on with duncan b. barlow concluded on a rainy Chicago night with a reading at Volumes Bookcafe headlined by Maryse Meijer. Hearing Meijer read from her debut collection, Heartbreaker, left me floored; since then, I’ve eagerly read her subsequent books, the novella Northwood and the new collection Rag. Meijer’s fiction is haunting in a host of ways, some of them literal: she brings the reader to the border of the uncanny and primal, while also tapping into something deeply modern and urgent. I spoke with her following the release of her latest book about her short fiction, the role of horror in her work, and titles, among other topics.
Morning Bites: Brandon Hobson Interviewed, Marilynne Robinson, Michel Faber Fiction, Kathe Koja Revisited, and More
In our morning reading: an interview with Brandon Hobson, new writing by Michel Faber and Lance Olsen, and more.