VCO: Chapter 25

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Chapter 25

One million square feet of space can hold a little over 17 American football fields. Joselyn heard back from Hans that we were approved to purchase ten million square feet of undeveloped land for database warehouses.

One issue: before DPZ gets absorbed into PPL on paper (we’ve already made the change on the site) we have to sort out the compensation for our initial business partner: Marcus. 

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Unplanned Beauty in Dirty Waters: Brad Vogel’s “Find Me In The Feral Pockets”

"Find Me in the Feral Pockets"

Brad Vogel’s Find Me in the Feral Pockets is a Whitmanic yawp for Gowanus. Often known as Lavender Lake, Gowanus became infamous as a dumping ground for local industries in the late 20th century and for the Mafia, if you believe the urban legends told of it.  Now, it’s a Superfund site with a patron saint poet.  Vogel’s poems come to life with glimpses of subway tracks above and the looming skyscrapers in the distance. The work ranges from pondering and playful to dark and depressive, as the voice takes careful stock of the strange hypnotic beauty of Gowanus, whether it’s roaming the streets on foot or floating down the canal via canoe.  In “Black Mayonnaise” we see “Sick rainbows swirl/ Deep secrets bubble up/ Past percolating at low tide/ -And here I stand/ Bulkheaded, reeking/ Ancient timbers bowed/ A sponge garden/ With a runoff problem.” The stanza sets in motion so much of the volume’s energy; this place leads the voice deeper into itself. “I envy you, Gowanus/ We envy you, Gowanus/ You have an EPA/ To rid you of your PCBs/ A Superfund/ For your black mayonnaise/ Would that I could/ Would that we would/ Dredge ours up/ Omissions and failings/ Dredge ours up/ Half lives and toxic words/ Mix sludge with mountains/ With concrete/ To stabilize/ And cart it all away/ To some other state.”  Poems like this one show the reciprocal relationship between speaker and setting—a longing to dredge up and cart away the toxins of the past to find some other state of being, to be strangely healed by regenerative powers of nature even in a state of pollution.

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Presenting an Excerpt From Darrin Doyle’s “Let Gravity Seize the Dead”

"Let Gravity Seize the Dead"

We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Darrin Doyle’s new book Let Gravity Seize the Dead. This book follows a family who, in 2007, move into a secluded cabin and begin to detect evidence of another presence there — one with a connection to the cabin’s inhabitants a century earlier. Sara Lippman called the book “a moody, pitch dark novella that will linger in my nightmares for quite some time.” Read on for a glimpse inside.

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Joan Leegant on Writing “Displaced Persons”

"Displaced Persons"

I met Joan Leegant the first time I attended a writer’s residency—in 2017—at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. I was excited to read Leegant’s new short story collection, Displaced Persons, winner of the New American Fiction Prize, set half in Israel and half in America. Aside from elegant and accomplished writing, what grabbed me about these stories, especially the ones set in Israel, especially now, is the window into ordinary life. Israel has a large immigrant and refugee population; many people who live there have been displaced at one point or another. Meeting the characters in these stories, finding their humor and humanity on the page, was uplifting.

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Writer/Artist Caza on the Genesis of “Arkadi and the Lost Tribe”

"Arkadi and the Lost Titan"

An ongoing Kickstarter campaign seeks to collect the full scope of a stunning work of science fiction comics.Beginning in 1989, writer/artist Caza has been telling the story of Arkadi and the Lost Titan. Publisher Humanoids describes it as “a visually stunning tableaux that blends imaginative landscapes with intricate detail, and classic sci-fi adventure with spiritual and metaphysical exploration.” Regarding the book, Mark Russell called it “the sort of imagination-bending science fiction comic you rarely see.”

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VCO: Chapter 24

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Chapter 24

While Joselyn and Morgen have been away on business Everhet and I have been able to read a lot in the cabin. 

He needs some time to forest bathe his bad vibes off. 

Turns out he’d been chewing gum before I’d ever met him and I really didn’t know how bad it was.

Did we ever chew gum together?

Did he introduce me to it?

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John Freeman on the Perpetual Evolution of “Hit and Run”

John Freeman

It’s always daunting to talk with a writer who’s made a significant impact on you. Given that John Freeman’s How to Read a Novelist had a seismic effect on the way that I write about books, the opportunity to talk with Freeman about his new novella Hit and Run was both enticing and imposing. Thankfully, Freeman was a warm and engaging conversationalist, and I was happy to talk to him about this new book, which follows a character not unlike Freeman who witnesses a horrific incident and finds his life shifting in its aftermath.

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Tennis Triangles and Dark Twists: A Review of Teddy Wayne’s “The Winner”

"The Winner"

Teddy Wayne drops two clues in his novel The Winner’s epigraphs.  First, “A little water clears us of this deed” from Macbeth. A sinister sign for what’s ahead. And then, from Allen Fox’s Think to Win: The Strategic Dimension of Tennis, “The true defensive player (or ‘dinker,’ as he is unaffectionately called in recreational circles) is prepared to hit ten, twenty, or more balls in the court per point…Dinkers understand the facts of life at the recreational level of tennis.” Both choices shed light on the narrative arc: dark, bloody waters ahead and defensive court volleys to score recreational points in a game. That’s our direction in this novel. The Winner transports us into wealthy, elitist Wasp America, and it sets up its social satire through tennis lessons and dark relationship triangles of sex, violence, lies, and concealment.  It’s an entertaining, and darkly brutal twisting of the “rags to riches” tale, as it pokes at the dark heart of the American story of success at all costs.  

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