M.S. Coe’s novel New Veronia begins with a trio of teenage boys living in suburban Delaware and pondering a very specific goal: how to build their own private space in the woods, and how best to use that for parties and having as much sex as possible. In the hands of a very different writer, this could be a means for wacky misadventures or a heartwarming coming-of-age tale. New Veronia is neither of these things. Strange power dynamics within the trio begin to manifest themselves (these are teenagers, after all), and thing take an even darker turn when one of them begins to embrace a racist ideology. I talked with Coe about creating this novel and why Delaware should show up in more works of fiction.
You learn something new every day. In the case of today, it’s that multiple H.P. Lovecraft-themed parodies of Chick tracts exist. That probably shouldn’t have surprised me, though: when you’re dealing with cosmic horror, one of the expected elements is a sense that human religion is beside the point, that prayers and supplications will do no good in the face of some sort of limitless eldritch evil. Alternately: that theology and cosmic horror don’t mix.
Today, we’re pleased to publish an excerpt from Mary Ann Cain’s new book South Side Venus: The Legacy of Margaret Burroughs. Its publisher, Northwestern University Press, gives readers a sense of what to expect: “The extraordinarily productive life of curator, artist, and activist Margaret Burroughs was largely rooted in her work to establish and sustain two significant institutions in Chicago: the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC), founded in 1940, and the DuSable Museum of African American History, founded in her living room in 1961.” Cain’s book is the first full-length biography of Burroughs, and draws on extensive research as well as the author’s conversations with Burroughs herself.
In our afternoon reading: looking back at the writings of Bette Howland, an interview with Chigozie Obioma, and more.
Snow’s on the ground, the winds are chilly, and the holiday season looms. December can be an unexpected month for new books. But there are a host of gems due out in the coming weeks, including a number of great works in translation, some boldly inscribed poetry, and new and unpredictable novels from some of our favorite writers. Here are some December books that caught our eye.
The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
What happens with the quotidian and the uncanny collide? There was a point in my early 20s, when I’d started writing fiction but was still highly impressionable, when I began considering what it might be like if one combined a Raymond Carver-esque realism with Lovecraftian forays into cosmic horror. Behold, suburban repression with eldritch horrors glimpsed in the background, never quite making their way forward to devour souls and drive people to madness.
The following is what happens when ML Kennedy, author of 100 by 100: Stories in 100 Words, interviews Jayne Martin, author of the newly released flash fiction collection, Tender Cuts.