I’ve got a buddy back in Jersey who just bought a house. When I stopped by he was putting in new kitchen appliances and the whole place still smelled like the styrofoam wrap new electronics come in. My buddy is an engineer and makes small but, as I understand it, very fundamental parts for airplanes. He took me out to the backyard and we drank Modelos from the can while his neighbors splashed in a pool. The air smelled delicious. I thought about a rejection email I had received earlier that day and thought: what the hell am I doing with my life?
“Under all my remarks rests a very unhappy premise. Fascism may be more to the tastes of the ruling powers in America than democracy. That doesn’t mean we’ll become a fascist country tomorrow. There are any number of extensive forces in America that would resist it. There are also huge forces in America that are promoting fascism, one way or another…” So wrote Norman Mailer in The Big Empty (2006), published a year before his death in 2007. He had been pressing the point since his first novel The Naked and the Dead in 1948 when he was twenty-five years old.
I grew up listening to punk rock, No-Wave, and various types of experimental music in the basement of my parents’ home in New Jersey, where the now old-fashioned stereo system was located: two large speakers leaning against the wall at an angle on bar stools, turntable and heavy receiver mounted on a wooden stand between them. I went to Bleecker Bob’s and Generation records on the lower east side, or a small record shop, Things from England, a few blocks from where I lived in New Jersey, to pick up the latest new wave and punk records. I was thinking of these early experiences when I picked up Shotgun Seamstress.
The first thing that caught my eye after opening Jeremy Haun’s Haunthology was the list of blurbs. About half of them came from comics creators I admire (Declan Shalvey! James Tynion IV!), while the other half came from horror writers whose work I dig (Laird Barron! John Langan!). Throw in an introduction by Nathan Ballingrud and you have something tailor-made to pique my interest.
We’re all familiar with the coupling of rich, older men and women half their age. It’s the troubled, age-old dynamic you can find in Hollywood, politics, and everywhere in-between. It’s also the sort of relationship 22-year-old Alex tries to game in Emma Cline’s latest novel, The Guest. Alex’s life is spiraling out of her control—a complete nosedive—until 50-something year-old Simon arrives as “the emergency exit she had always suspected would present itself.” As in: When she has no other options, she knows she can take the predatory interest older men have toward her and flip it for her advantage.
Through Waiting For Jonathan Koshy, Shroff presents a fascinating tale of characters who exist at the margins of a cosmopolitan city like Mumbai, a city undergoing changes from changing its name (Bombay to Mumbai) to landscapes because of construction. The city is a center of migration for people from all parts of India. Jonathan, the titular character, himself is from the state of Kerala and is exiled to a place like Mumbai. Other characters take various jobs in order to be assimilated into the culture of the big city. Prashant is a writer who writes scripts for other people while Jonathan does all sorts of jobs.
D.M. Rowell (Koyh Mi O Boy Dah) has brought two worlds together in her debut mystery novel, Never Name the Dead. Rowell connects her story from Silicon Valley to Kiowa tribal lands in Oklahoma through her lead character, Mae “Mud” Sawpole. The novel, the first in a series, was recently nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award by Mystery Writers of America. Mae runs a PR firm in Silicon Valley, but a strange call from her grandfather James leads her to catch a plane and head back home to her tribal homeland. While a lot of the novel shows Mae busy at work, working the phones back in California, the real heart of the book is her amateur detective skills in Oklahoma.