On Ghosts and Absence: A Review of Terese Svoboda’s “Dog on Fire”

"Dog on Fire" cover

“My brother was dead was what I remembered then,” reflects our unnamed narrator, “and I cried a little the way a car does when the ignition’s gone, a click and a grind, something that needs something, that could be stopped only by stopping.” That balky engine seems a defining image for Terese Svoboda’s new novel. Dog on Fire isn’t itself aflame, but rather smoldering: something that needs something. That’s not a criticism the text delivers an arresting portrait of both melancholy and a way out but rather a description of what’s lacking for the principal players. Both the grieving sister and her fellow-narrator Aphra, the brother’s lover and one of the only characters with a name, fumble after what psychologists call “closure.” 

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An Excerpt From “A Tide Should Be Able to Rise Despite Its Moon” by Jessica Bell

Jessica Bell poems

You might know Jessica Bell best through her work as a musician — she spent five years in the group Keep Shelly in Athens, as well as having released work as BRUNO and under her own name. She’s also been working on a number of books, including forays into both fiction and poetry. We’re pleased to present an excerpt from her new collection, A Tide Should Be Able to Rise Despite Its Moon, out now from Vine Leaves Press.

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Excerpting a New Graphic Novel Adaptation of “The Great Gatsby”

Today, we’re pleased to present an excerpt from Ted Adams and Jorge Coelho’s graphic novel adaptation of The Great Gatsby. This project has been in the works since 2019, and is currently available via a Kickstarter campaign from Clover Press. As Coelho explained in a statement, the timing of the project was unexpectedly serendipitous: “A feeling of chaos, confusion and crumbling eras permeated both art and real life during the making of this book, resulting in my largest and most rewarding creative challenge so far.” Read on to see a new adaptation of a classic story.

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An Unconventional Writer’s Unconventional Memoir: Cris Mazza on “It’s No Puzzle”

"It's No Puzzle" cover    

The writer Cris Mazza and her siblings were blessed with remarkable parents. Her father, a World War II veteran who became a community college physics professor, was a forward-thinking man for his era, ensuring his girls had access to the same educational opportunities as boys. Her mother was not only college-educated, also unusual for her generation, but later returned for a second round of schooling so she could obtain a teaching credential and start a second career in elementary education. Together, the Mazzas made their children the center of their lives; they were rewarded by seeing their clan grow into vibrant, self-sufficient adults. Mazza chronicled these good times in Indigenous: Growing Up Californian, a critically acclaimed introduction into the “normality beneath the California myth that seems all the more dazzling and exotic with the passage of time,” as the Los Angeles Times said. While that book was fueled by memory, her new memoir, It’s No Puzzle: a memoir in artifact (Spuyten Duyvil Books), is powered by the questions that emerged as Mazza considered the objects that would amount to her parents’ legacy.  

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Suburban Disquiet, Dallas Style: An Excerpt From Abigail Stewart’s “Foundations”

"Foundations" cover

We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Abigail Stewart’s new novel Foundations, out now on Whisk(e)y Tit. Stewart’s book chronicles the lives of three different women with little in common except for the Dallas house where each of them live at various points in their lives. The result is a taut, empathic tale of restless lives and fraught dynamics.

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William T. Vollmann: A Reader’s Guide

William T. Vollmann

Taken as a whole, the works of William T. Vollman are frequently contradictory. He’s a writer drawn to the lives of outsiders who’s also written about some of the most essential and overarching subjects facing society; his bibliography encompasses both transgressive, unsettling writing and deeply accessible forays into historical and contemporary issues.

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