You Never Know

cropped image of bullets

You Never Know
by Amy Kiger-Williams

1978

My dad keeps a rifle in the coat closet in the laundry room. I don’t know why he has it. He doesn’t like hunting or fishing like his father does. He likes Captain Beefheart and Mad Magazine and British racing cars and Monty Python and wearing aviator sunglasses and playing with chemicals in his photographic darkroom in the basement. I cannot imagine a time when my father has ever fired this gun, and I never ask him why it’s there or what he’s done with it. But I take it out of the closet when my parents aren’t home. I take it out of the closet and inspect it, its simple design, the metal barrel, the length of it. I am afraid to touch the barrel, but I do, I touch it with my finger tip, just tapping it lightly as if it’s on fire. 

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Six Ridiculous Questions: Kathe Koja

Kathe Koja

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.

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“The Only Conspiracy is the Conspiracy of White Supremacy”: An Interview With Brian Castleberry

Castleberry author photo

In his debut novel, Nine Shiny Objects, Brian Castleberry peels back the veneer of a rosy, postwar America, exposing the messy inner workings beneath. The novel is divided into nine hefty sections, each with a different protagonist whose life intersects in one way or another with a mysterious UFO cult. The book begins in 1947 with Oliver Danville, a small-time Chicagoan hustler, who, after witnessing a murder and reading about a strange UFO sighting, feels compelled to head west to investigate. Danville eventually establishes a group called “the Seekers,” and what follows is one chance encounter after another, as the story wends from coast to coast, spanning four decades, and all the while explores the limits of utopian dreams and the reactionary forces poised to strike them down. A whole world populates this richly woven novel: farmers, rock stars, city folks and suburbanites, a poet, a salesman, a conspiracy radio talk show host, and more. This is an American novel with heavy American themes, and at the same time, Castleberry reveals the humor in the absurd. In an email exchange, the author discussed with me some of these themes and how the book came to exist.

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A Surreal Voyage Into a Collapsing Life: Kevin Bigley’s “Comaville” Reviewed

"Comaville" cover

You could fill a bookshelf with fictional work set in a character’s imagination during a life-or-death struggle. From Shane Jones’s Daniel Fights a Hurricane to Ian Edington and D’Israeli’s Kingdom of the Wicked, storytellers have seized on the opportunity to blend phantasmagorical imagery with psychological acuity, creating works that can resonate on multiple levels. There are others I could mention, but to reveal some of them would be to spoil a narrative twist. With Kevin Bigley’s debut novel Comaville, there’s little doubt as to where the novel’s protagonist is — it’s right there in the title.

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Six Ridiculous Questions: James Reich

James Reich

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.

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Sunday Stories: “Prewitt”

"Prewitt" image

Prewitt
by Jonathan Rose

I was not following him. A person in my condition wouldn’t be able to do that anyway, couldn’t stay with him, unless this guy up ahead—presumably a healthy grown man or at least a man in reasonable physical shape, making normal adult-sized strides—was held up, slowed down by something. Maybe he’d stop, say, for a coffee, or give pause to consider the aroma of a street vendor and buy a late-afternoon snack, or decide to linger in front of a shop window, or kneel to tie his shoe, or maybe he’d just be halted by an exceptionally long street light. It was possibly him up there ahead, a figure resembling someone from my past—that is, a person who, based on what he looked like from forty-fifty yards away and in front of me, bore a resemblance to someone I once sat next to for an hour a night, years ago and in a distant city.

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