MATTHEW VOLLMER is the author of two short-story collections—Future Missionaries of America and Gateway to Paradise—as well as three collections of essays—inscriptions for headstones, Permanent Exhibit, and This World Is Not Your Home: Essays, Stories, & Reports. He was the editor of A Book of Uncommon Prayer, which collects invocations from over 60 acclaimed and emerging authors, and served as co-editor of Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts. His work has appeared in venues such as Paris Review, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, Tin House, Oxford American, The Sun, The Pushcart Prize anthology, and Best American Essays. He teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Tech, where he is a Professor of English. His next book, All of Us Together in the End, will be published by Hub City Press in 2023.
Robert Lopez’s latest novel-in-stories reads like a stream of conscious search for hope. A Better Class of People connects back with some of his characters from Good People from 2015, and the trilogy will be concluded with The Best People in 2024. All of the stories are first person narratives, told by a singular alienated narrator. The voice throughout A Better Class of People is hypnotic and rhythmic and often unreliable. Lopez has said that sound and energy are keys to his writing process. That’s where it all starts for him. And, you can hear the effect of this in every story of this collection. We’re on a ride with an impulsive voice and it’s uncertain where we’re going or where we’ve been here. Every other story is a subway interlude—you see this reflected by a train symbol above the table of contents. At times, the book is darkly funny and sometimes downright disturbing and tragic. There are even times the storyteller is potentially dangerous; he might or might not have a gun and often considers “shooting someone in the face.” Overall, the sound of the voice, like the electric currents of the subway, creates drama, intrigue, danger, and tension, and it pulls the reader through a strange, dystopian world that is both fascinating and unforgettable.
ASHLEY MARIE FARMER is the author of the new essay collection Dear Damage (Sarabande Books, 2022), as well as three other collections of prose and poetry. Her work has been published in places like TriQuarterly, The Progressive, Santa Monica Review, Buzzfeed, Flaunt, Nerve, Gigantic, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Best American Essays notable distinction, Ninth Letter’s Literary Award in Creative Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Review’s Short Fiction Award, as well as fellowships from Syracuse University and the Baltic Writing Residency. Ashley lives in Salt Lake City, UT, with the writer Ryan Ridge.
We’re pleased to be publishing Nell Zink’s introductory letter for Robert Perišić’s forthcoming novel A Cat at the End of the World. Translated by Vesna Maric, Perišić’s novel is narrated by a bodiless spirit that has an affinity for cats across time and space. Intrigued? We thought you might be. We’re also happy to be revealing the novel’s cover. It’s out on November 1 on Sandorf Passage.
Don’t take the Instagram account Publishers Brunch at their word when they assure you in their bio that “this is a joke i promise.” Not to say the account isn’t full of publishing in-jokes. Charming lo-fi memes targetting pay inequity, hackneyed market trends, brand-conscious novelists, and lucrative book deals for far-right demagogues don’t correct systemic injustices and a culture dedicated to poor taste, but PubBrunch is clearly motivated to highlight the industry’s wrongdoings and spark interest in collective employee actions like walk-outs, salary-sharing, and union organizing. Publishers Brunch is a shitposting account, but a deadly serious one. “Wait, it’s about unionizing?” asks the astronaut looking out at an Earth labeled “publishing meme accounts.” “Always has been,” replies his pistol-wielding colleague.
Literary noir maestro Fuminori Nakamura has always been interested in understanding the psychology of crime, and in My Annihilation he allows that obsession to shape the entire narrative. The result is a dark novel that’s the literary equivalent of a puzzle box; an experimental, relentlessly cerebral story in which every narrator is unreliable, memories are tampered with, and reality is as shifting as points of view.
Jonathan Evison has called it a vision quest. Hell, he’s even said he’s taking a shot at the Great American Novel, when referring to his seventh novel, Small World, a multiple perspective, multi-generational story about a western American train about to crash. We follow the lives of several characters in 2017-2019, with chapters included from their ancestors back in the 1850s. What unites them is their western journeys and desires to make something better for themselves. Evison’s big-hearted American epic delivers contemporary characters with their pioneering pasts, and he pulls it off without preaching or pandering. While Evison has used different timelines in novels like West of Here and Legends of the North Cascades, Small World feels bigger and more in keeping with our post-pandemic future. It’s a Dickensian 19th century throwback, grappling with big American themes and ideas: multiculturalism, westward expansion and Manifest Destiny, gold rushes, technological advances, homesteading, slavery, immigration, bigotry, and regeneration through violence. It’s a timeless American story, with vivid well-rounded characters, who have a lot to tell us about the world we live in today as well as the one we’ve inherited from the past. Small World is a great ride into the complicated, dark hearts of the American story, and it reads like Evison’s best work, to date.
MEG TUITE is author of five story collections and five chapbooks, including White Van (Unlikely Books, 2022). She won the Twin Antlers Poetry award for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, and is included in Best of Small Press 2021. She teaches writing retreats and online classes hosted by Bending Genres, and is also the fiction editor of Bending Genres and associate editor at Narrative Magazine.