Jeff Chon’s debut novel proves the need for psychologically dense, overlooked characters in our fiction for the present moment. With Hashtag Good Guy with a Gun, Chon has chosen a very forward-sitting scab to pick at on the forehead of America. Set four days before the 2016 presidential election, Chon’s characters frame our cultural moment in urgent and unforgiving ways, and his dark satire wrestles time and again with humanity’s injurious existence. Bouts of conspiracy rampant and rewriting our present tense, Chon is able to pen these unpopular glooms with a sly humor befitting his all-too-relevant tragicomic study of modern egos.
Megan Miranda picks up the phone, explaining that I’m catching her at the beginning of allergy season, also known as Spring, and we chat about her path from working in biotech to teaching high school science to returning her dream: writing. She grew up in New Jersey, graduated from MIT, and migrated to a small town in North Carolina where she lives with her family. The author of five novels for adults and several books for young adults, Miranda’s methodical plots often balance on the knife edge of science and law, while her atmospheric writing carries with it always a bedroom intimacy. In her latest and most eerie novel, Such a Quiet Place, which of course isn’t quiet at all, Miranda continues to write through the layers of a mystery, creating a prism of suspense, through the themes and characters that steadily return to her.
Life is a Cow with a Fly on its Eye
by Eli S. Evans
The worst thing in the world, I think we can all agree, is cutting the inside of your mouth on the sharp edge of a potato chip. There you are, enjoying the combination of salt, grease, and crunch, availing yourself of the high satiety index, I believe is the proper terminology, of your potato chip, and suddenly it flips onto its side and slices, most of the time, into the roof of your mouth, and in that moment you know not only that you will not be able to take pleasure in eating the rest of your potato chips, the salt from which will, quite literally, be salt in the fresh wound, but that you will not be able to take pleasure – unmitigated pleasure, in any event – in eating anything, for days, because until the wound heals (a process that will suffer a setback each time you eat again), such pleasure will inevitably be compromised by a simultaneous experience of, if not outright pain, discomfort.
SEAN KILPATRICK wrote Anatomy Courses (with Blake Butler; Lazy Fascist Press, 2012); Gil the Nihilist: A Sitcom (Lazy Fascist Press, 2013); Sucker June (Lazy Fascist Press, 2015); Thank You, Steel China (Schism  Press, 2016), Sir William Forsythe’s Freebase Nuptials: A Screenplay (Sagging Meniscus Press, 2017), and Collected Scripts (11:11 Press, 2021). He has written for Nerve, Fence, Vice, Bomb, Evergreen Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Hobart, New York Tyrant, Exquisite Corpse, Juked, and The Collagist, among several other publications. Check out his podcast.
I am an actual person in a concrete historical situation. So are you, and that guy? Over there? Yep. Same. Look at us. Just some actual people in a concrete historical situation. Seems obvious, but, really, I mean, is it? When’s the last time you thought about being an actual person in a concrete historical situation? Actual stuff – life stuff – situated in some broader context. Your birth and death and the stuff in between. That’s all it is, and you’re doing it. Thanks for spending some of it reading this introduction with me. Let me tell you something.
This July, your reading might get weird, with a host of new books dealing with mythical history or bizarre futures. Your reading might get insightful, unlocking a new way of seeing the world or an insight about yourself. Or your reading might be relevatory, prompting you to see or hear something familiar in a brand-new way. Here’s what’s on our reading list for this month.
BRAM RIDDLEBARGER writes, plays music, runs Gob Pile Press, and lives in SE Ohio. His books include Messages from the American Trashcan (Cabal, 2020) and Western Erotica Ho (Trident, 2020).
In our morning reading: thoughts on Kate Zambreno’s new book, an interview with Brandon Taylor, and more.