Injustice, Clarity, and Storytelling: An Interview With Scott Adlerberg

The slim, propulsive novels of Scott Adlerberg pack a hell of a punch. He’s equally at home writing characters displaced from the familiar and characters whose daily routine can turn suffocating. His latest novel, 2018’s Jack Waters, follows the story of a gambler who becomes involved in a revolution in the early-20th century Caribbean. What begins as an adventure story with an antihero at its heart slowly changes into something deeper and more unpredictable, yet no less thrilling for it. I spoke with Adlerberg about his use of setting, his literary lineage, and his penchant for splicing genres together.

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“Like A Shanking”: Gabino Iglesias on Writing “Coyote Songs”

Coyote Songs, the latest novel from Gabino Iglesias, covers a bold stylistic range, from tautly realistic characters living desperate lives to head-spinning forays into body horror. To call it “unsettling” would miss the mark somewhat: this is fiction that isn’t intended to leave a reader settled. It’s also a significant stylistic departure from his previous novel, the searing noir that was Zero Saints. I spoke with Iglesias about the process of finding a structure for this book, the role of religion in his work, and how bodies factor into his fiction. 

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Where William Blake Meets Orchestral Pop: An Interview With Astralingua

Astralingua, the duo of Joseph Andrew Thompson and Anne Rose Thompson, recently released their new album Safe Passage. It’s a musically and lyrically lush work, bringing in everything from nuanced arrangements to a William Blake-inspired song, and its expansiveness makes for a wholly immersive listening experience. We talked with Joseph via email about the process of making the album, turning William Blake into music, and more.

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Ghosts of Places, Ghosts in Places: A Review of Jenny Hval’s “Paradise Rot”

Some novels have a sense of place. Jenny Hval’s Paradise Rot drips with it. This is the story of a young woman named Jo, who’s come to study in a country other than her own. Where she’s from and where she is are never crucial to the plot — there’s a brief mention of Jo as Norwegian, and of certain locations in the south of England, but specifics, at least these specifics, aren’t the point here. Our protagonist is far from home, speaking a language that isn’t her first, and living among people with whom she’s out of sync. This is a novel about dislocation, about being out of step with a place. It’s also a ghost story — perhaps several varieties of ghost story.

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The Familiar and the Wild: Notes on Maryse Meijer’s “Northwood”

It’s been several weeks since I first read Maryse Meijer’s Northwood, and I’m still sorting out how best to classify it. For the record, I mean that in the “this is a feature, not a bug” kind of way. This is the sort of book for which the term “hybrid works” was invented: Meijer blends the quotidian with the folkloric, tells much of the story in verse, and utilizes a host of formally inventive page layouts along the way. If the most striking figure of the book’s design — white text on black pages — isn’t indicator enough, I’ll say it clearly: this is not a conventional read.

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“Those Who Knew” and the Fiction of Political Realities

Though it’s largely set in an unnamed Latin American nation, Idra Novey’s new novel Those Who Knew abounds with moments that will sound familiar to readers in the United States. There’s a seemingly-idealistic male political candidate whose upstanding veneer conceals bleaker impulses; there’s the fact that said candidate’s treatment of women places him one potential scandal away from (justifiable) ruin. Novey’s novel abounds with legislators compromised by their ties to industry, artists from the upper class relentlessly mocking the foibles of the wealthy, and a landscape in which the political and the intimately personal are inexorably connected.

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“There Are No Cures”: Marian Womack on Writing “Lost Objects”

The stories found in Marian Womack‘s collection Lost Objects haunt the reader from a number of angles. Whether she’s writing about climate change and environmental catastrophes writ large or about subtler and more personal betrayals, Womack creates worlds in which the ground is constantly shifting–sometimes both metaphorically and literally. Her fiction blends a fantastic sense of place with a haunting glimpse of the near future; it’s work that’s difficult to shake–which is the point. I asked Womack some questions about her work via email, covering everything from the science of her stories to the role of translation in speculative fiction.

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“I Love the Act of Forming Words”: An Interview With Chaya Bhuvaneswar

White Dancing Elephants, the debut collection from Chaya Bhuvaneswar, is a powerful literary statement in its stylistic range, its willingness to engage with powerful themes, and its geographic and temporal shifts. Whether she’s writing about characters grappling with their own mortality and that of the people closest to them or veering into more fantastical realms, Bhuvaneswar roots her work in recognizable (and often wrenching) emotion, making for powerful and compelling fiction. I talked with her about the collection’s themes, her upcoming work, and more.

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