Aura, the new book from Hillary Leftwich, is a lot of things — a mother’s correspondence with her son, a writer’s origin story, and an at times harrowing account of abuse. It maintains the same formal innovation and structural intricacies that characterized Leftwich’s previous book while also offering a candid look back at its author’s life. Leftwich and I conversed about the process of writing Aura and the act of revisiting the personal histories contained within.
Last summer I met a Brooklyn-based writer from my hometown who told me about her friend Sara Lippmann and showed me the amazing cover of Sara’s (then-forthcoming) latest story collection, Jerks. After hearing it was brilliant, I eagerly sought out the collection, which was published by Mason Jar Press in March. And it lived up to the hype — the stories are funny and razor sharp. Lippmann’s prose is electric and she maintains a generosity to both her characters and her readers.
RICK CLAYPOOL is the author of Tentacle Head (Bear Creek Press, 2022), The Mold Farmer (Six Gallery Press, 2020), and Leech Girl Lives (Spaceboy Books). His short fiction appears here and there online, including Expat Press, Heavy Feather Review, and Bear Creek Review. He lives in Rhode Island.
Unlearning the Law: Novel Lessons
by Martha Anne Toll, former lawyer, current novelist
Myriad lawyers transition from litigating to literature. I am no exception: I recently published my debut novel, THREE MUSES. Before that, I attended law school, practiced law, and worked for many years in social justice and the nonprofit world. Each of those jobs involved intensive writing where I had to learn how to present arguments clearly on the page, and to advocate for strategy and policy positions. I sharpened my research and analytic skills as I tried to present the incontrovertible. However, as I was becoming a novelist, I realized I had to unlearn the writing practices I found most useful in my time in the corporate and non-profit world. I have thus identified three rules in fiction that may come in handy for others following a similar path:
PAULA BOMER is the author of the novels Tante Eva (Soho Press, 2021) and Nine Months (Soho Press, 2012), the story collections Inside Madeleine (Soho Press, 2014) and Baby and Other Stories (Word Riot, 2010), and the essay collection, Mystery and Mortality (Publishing Genius, 2017). She grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and has lived for over 30 years in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Bomb, Full Stop, The Cut, Los Angeles Review of Books, TalkSpace, and elsewhere.
Human Blues, the complex fourth novel from Elisa Albert, tells the story of an indie rocker through nine menstrual cycles, as she tries to get pregnant. By her side, keeping her warm and spiritually alive through the labyrinth of doctors and unsolicited advice, is none other than the spirit of Amy Winehouse. This plot and structure alone made it a radical read. But Albert goes deeper. In the singular voice of Aviva Rosner, one worthy of Mickey Sabbath, Albert takes on the foundations of our society: the mythologies of motherhood, the industrial fertility complex, medical hubris, and the barren spiritual landscape. In a voice and style all her own: at once kind, wise, scathing but always funny, Albert has created a story that will challenge all you hold dear. In this wide-ranging interview, we discuss everything from IVF, the Dobbs ruling, Taharat HaMishpacha, and trying out for Rent, among other juicy topics.
In our afternoon reading: interviews with Juliet Patterson and Tara Lynn Masih, writing advice from Jim Harrison, and more.
We’re pleased to present an except from frequent Vol. 1 Brooklyn contributor Dmitry Samarov’s new book Paint By Numbers, which is available now in both print and audio editions.