Nice Things by James Franco

Dear James Franco,

While I’m pursuing an MFA in fiction at USF, I am also working at a pizza restaurant. In fact, one of my coworkers coincidentally ended up being my student this semester. I work at the to-go counter, where I take orders through flour-crusted phones, assemble mountains of pizza boxes, and show the finished pizza product to customers, holding my breath, hoping they don’t say “it looks burnt” or “I thought I asked for extra cheese.” I cross my fingers for a decent tip and high-five my coworkers if they give more than 10%. Sometimes when customers yell at me through the phone complaining the order they took home was wrong, when a $100 order tips $0, when the line is backed up and people look impatient, I think: why am I here? Am I too “good” for this?

I tell you this about myself because I was inspired by your McDonald’s story in the first Q & A in Nice Things by James Franco. As you avoided Lovelace and Neely’s questions, instead telling your tale of working at McDonald’s while you tried to make it as an actor, I felt that perhaps our experiences were parallel. Maybe it’s the artist’s journey to work at shitty food service jobs while struggling to make art. And as Nice Things by James Franco—a beautiful display of poetry and prose—demonstrates, the path you took was paved for success. Maybe one day I can have my own “nice thing.” Although the Q & As often resulted in whimsical, sometimes round-about answers, I did learn some valuable advice, like, “Here’s a little writing tip for you: there was none. Only confusion. Art is a songless bird, a gas station coffee—a void.” As a young MFA student, it’s encouraging to hear such uplifting teachings from a master of words like yourself.

Nice Things by James Franco is filled with chaotic, yet surprising moments that take readers through a maze of lyrical and narrative twists and bends. Along the way, you transport us through time, alternate us between third and first person, and take us through the stream-of-consciousness, existential processes of an artist.

The prose pieces in the chapbook, mostly told in third person, are full of bizarre tales—like the one where you witnessed the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand while holding a sandwich for a stranger, or the one that explores flea trainers (amongst other things) and how flea trainers can be metaphors for writers. Perhaps my favorite prose piece in the chapbook was the way you described finishing a marathon: “…but then comes the second race, the 6.2 miles, the suffering, a tunnel, a cloudy tunnel that closes in, with lightning spider webs on the walls [if you can imagine], and you go to this place [I can’t explain it, a cave?…], this place…far away…well, anyway, the marathon isn’t one race of 26.2 miles: no, it’s two races, two separate identities, on walk of a tolerable pain, the other walk of—yes, I’ll say it—exquisite and existential agony.)” The images and language mingle and intertwine with punctuation to create a rhythm and pace representative of the painful ending to a race. The seemingly formerly inexplicable becomes articulated. Sometimes I feel this way after working at the pizza shop, when I go home for the second race, writing 6.2 miles of a short story that’s due for workshop soon.

The poems in Nice Things ask ponderous, existential questions, most of which, I gathered, address the sometimes painstaking, internal process of creating art: “When I close my eyes a thousand short films / spin their reels… / the monster / peeling off my face, / revealing my face…” The poems put into words issues artists face with identity, posing these questions in true bizarre James Franco fashion, my favorite stanza being, “We can’t have nice things / digging through ruble / in these bodies / that aren’t even ours.” These motifs of masks, foreign bodies, and feelings of unbelonging culminate through images that aren’t afraid to reveal vulnerability and disparity. The journey of the artist feels less isolating with your inward examination of identity and process.

I learned a lot about what it means to be a writer, artist, and person through this genre-bending, rule breaking chapbook of prose, poetry, and Q & As. The next time I go in for a shift at the restaurant (end of this week) where I won’t even get to eat the pizza someone forgot to pick up (jealous you ate the cheeseburgers at McDonald’s left under the heaters longer than 7 minutes!), I’ll think of you, James Franco. I’ll think of what I learned about being an artist. And one day, when I’m walking a marathon, I’ll finish the race by eating a cheese pizza from the restaurant: crisp, satisfying, grease dripping off my chin.

Courtney Clute

Be With Me Always by Randon Billings Noble

Dear Randon Billings Noble-

For a period, I was a dedicated fan of the British Sherlock Holmes series on Granada television. Enthralled by Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of the detective, I kept a photo of him displayed on my desk. I watched episodes over and over, fascinated with the central character and the mix of contradictions and elusiveness that his character embodied: the way that he blended in, assumed disguises, and went against the grain; his skill in combat, both mental and physical; the way that he surrendered to danger. 

Reading your book, Be With Me Always, I am reminded again of Sherlock Holmes in your approach to every haunting, and every visitation of your body by a ghost. Holmes makes an appearance in your list essay, “69 Inches of Thread, Scarlet and Otherwise”, but I noticed the similarities before this. When you ripped through Vivaldi arpeggios without realizing you had an audience, I pictured Holmes playing his Stradivarius. In “A Pill to Cure Love” you dissect the way a body metabolizes a love affair, and I pictured Holmes performing extractions in his home chemistry lab. Holmes’ devotion to justice, I liken to your hunger for understanding your ghosts. As Holmes hunts for criminals, driven by empathy and a lust for intellectual challenge, so too, do you hunt for your ghosts. 

This collection of essays is evocative of a ghost story and mystery in one. The essays make us aware of things around us (mirrors, birdsong, paintings, shell casings) or things inside us (grief, nostalgia, vanity, desire) that we didn’t see before but suddenly beckon us. In your own words, “We can’t control when the ghost materializes or what drives it away. Sometimes it’s a presence, more often an absence. “Let me in,” says the voice at the window, “I’m come home.” Each essay stands alone, capable of being extracted from the others, but contains threads that run through all of them, the thread unraveled from the red skein, as you delve deeper and deeper to meet your ghosts. 

The ghosts in the essays are lost loves, mirrors, cancer, hallucinations, youth, memories, paintings, silence, fantasies, widows. They are things that visit or enter the body and leave an imprint. The clues are etymologies, stretch marks, cemeteries, a biopsy, a cross necklace, your Grandmother’s rings, books. The clues are also the collection of historical and fictional characters that you weave into each essay, from Dracula to Henry the VIII. You give us the sense that your story is connected to seemingly disparate bodies. Through your story, these bodies are unified across time and space, made real. Like a good detective, your range of methods of examination is astounding: intertextuality, etymologies, strikethroughs, inference, lists, micros, a poem, a medical care plan, and close examination of the clues and ghosts.

During detective work, Holmes sometimes brings us close to danger. We welcome it and fear it with exhilaration. You bring us to the cusps of danger, and clarity, silence, betrayal and death, then return us to ourselves with insight each time.  You are both in the scene and removed from it at the same time, as when describing your split selves after an accident: “But the whimpering, squealing me knew that second self, calm and clear, was there as well, attending me during those moments of separation.” This separation allows the common threads of each essay, the ghosts, to stand out as red threads on their backdrop.

Every essay left me with the feeling of being visited by something that I couldn’t name or rationalize into existence. Your essays create that feeling of great potential in the morning before we’re fully awake. As “On Silence” suggests, the gaps, the absence of what you write, feels more like a presence. Just as every observation that Holmes makes baits us with anticipation, we wait for yours, too, Randon. 

With You Always,

Jessica Watson

Still Come Home by Katey Schultz

Dear Katey Schultz,

When reading, Still Come Home, I was in a mason jar of dust and oak and apricot. The novel was a self-contained entity of imagery and conflict that incited all the senses. Sweet to read yet there is a discomfort created within these pages, wounds that bleed out in lyrical prose and conflict. Discomfort in the good way. This is the kind of reading that can be absorbed in one sitting, because one can’t stop, but do, because the lines created need to be inhaled and exhaled.                       

The novel takes us between three main characters who rotate chapter to chapter–two Afghanistan natives and an American soldier. As a reader we live through the conflicts of social expectations, interpersonal relationships, and war. Even though perspectives rotate the general theme and tones are the same–life in the middle of a war-torn country is not sustainable. 

On your website you mention a term you coined yourself–ecstatic uncertainty. You go on to describe it as, “The feeling when a person is presented with the opportunity to stretch beyond his or her comfort level and current understanding of the world.” You achieve this in, Still Come Home. Set in 2009 Afghanistan, every millennial and generation above knows what that means. Immediately, I knew what your setting would encompass. Smartly, you give your readers multiple points of view, which I appreciated in such a political setting. Aeseya who struggles with independence and the restrictions of her gender, Rahim who has to juggle expectations of being a husband, and Nathan who deals with life as a soldier and the marital struggles of being overseas. 

There is an admiralty that comes with the poetic narrative and brutality of your depiction of war,

 “There’s no justice in war and no one to blame except himself, and if he waits another second, that family up ahead might take one, two, three more steps any direction and blow themselves into a thousand fleshy splinters. The desert is a minefield. The minefield is the ocean. He is walking on water. There is no Jesus Christ. He is utterly unglued.” 

Balanced, you do not romanticize or diminish such a big undertaking. We see each character affected by their setting and yet there’s always hope, whether we find in within a wife overseas or with a lost little boy. You have taken such a rock of a topic, heavy and seemingly unmoving, and yet you grabbed it, molded it, and presented it with delicate edges. 

 Ecstatic uncertainty is embodied here, in this place that you experienced solely in your writing. Through your characters and your setting, you live up to your coined term. You paint scenes that capture the moment and leave us suspended,

“A few blocks ahead, Aaseya hears the cries of animals for slaughter, sons bargaining on behalf of their mothers. It’s a spectacle of activity: the smell of dung, the dry taste of the desert, people coming and going—enlivening the mud-cooked pathways in flashes of teal, maroon, sun gold, deep purple. Men loiter, scuffing their dirt-coated sandals against the ground. At the edge of the bazaar, beggars wait.”

Personally, as a fiction writer, what I enjoyed, not most but just as much as everything above, was your craft. Throughout the book, we go back and forth between perspectives: Nathan, Rahim, and Aaseya. Each character has their own voice and shift in tone. We see the effects of bombing and death from every character, who in their own way, are connected. Like Aaseya and Ghazél, “the two connected mid-air by an invisible thread,” each character has an invisible string to those alive and dead within the narrative.

 Each character has their own language, the gears and mechanics of your lines reshape within each change in perspective:

Nathan, the American soldier who just wants to go home.

Rahim, the husband who is in truth a good man but held down by social norms.

Aaseya, a young woman unable to accept her position in her world.

I love them all dearly.

They all are experiencing the same topics: loss, love, identity. Yet, their experiences are their own microcosm within the macrocosm of theses pages. 

Still Come Home builds from the ground up climaxing with a literal and metaphorical bang, an explosion that was built through tension from the first page. With all its bravado, you still find a way to encapsulate paternal and maternal love and tenderness. The main female characters’ name, Aaseya, means pillar or column. I think Aaseya is a perfect encapsulation of the books end, the climax is full of rubble in the setting, yet the foundations of the characters identities and relationships are all still intact, we are hopeful. And about a million other things all at once. I see why you open with Yeats: Endure that toil of growing up/ The ignominy of boyhood/ the distress of boyhood changing into man/ The unfinished man and his pain/ Brought face to face with his own clumsiness.

 Yeats creates a poem of the mind and soul arguing and while there is no clear winner at the end of the poem, I think your characters found harmonies amongst their own souls and bodies. 

At one-point Rahim said, “The Persian poet Hafiz would say that the past is a grave, the future a rose. Think of the rose.” 

That’s what I think this book is–a rose. 

Thank you for introducing this world to me,

McKenzie Zalopany

Quite Mad

Dear Sarah Fawn Montgomery,

I have obsessive compulsive disorder.

I was diagnosed when I was 17 but have experienced symptoms since I was 12. Before medication and cognitive behavior therapy, I would spend hours each day conducting a multitude of compulsive rituals, afraid that if I didn’t do them correctly I would die or get sick. I would spend an eternity wringing my hands under the faucet with pumps and pumps of soap until my hands were raw and cracked, unable to touch any food until I deemed my hands sterile. Although my symptoms aren’t as severe anymore, I still struggle to touch food without a thorough hand cleaning, still feel the cyclical, pestering thoughts that I know are irrational, but I just can’t seem to scrap from my mind.

I am a writer, a storyteller. Yet, very few people know my story.

I feel a mix between embarrassment, fear, and vulnerability every time I think about sharing my truth. For a few years, I’ve been wanting to be more vocal about my illness: I’ve wanted to write about it or share it with more friends, but I could never find the courage to do so. I didn’t want people—strangers or loved ones—to look at me and see a disorder, an illness, instead of me.

But after reading your memoir and reading about your mental illness narrative, I realize that my illness is me. They aren’t two separate entities—I wouldn’t be myself without my illness. As you so eloquently put, “I would not be without OCD, without PTSD because they have changed the way I see the world. I feel, I think, I am, richer, fuller, and more human because of them. I have been created by my illnesses, but at the same time illness has made me a creator.” Reading this urged this latent desire I’ve had for years to share my narrative. And I’m starting here.

Perhaps what I admired most about your memoir is your ability to put into words what I’ve struggled to express to others for years, to make them understand what it’s like to have anxiety and OCD. Although you write, “I cannot make the words right, cannot make the listener—not even you—understand,” I do understand. Our narratives are different in certain aspects, but there are certainly overlaps (the fear you felt on May 21st, 2011—the day of the supposed rapture, the inescapable pull of fulfilling your compulsions, and the obsessive thoughts that exhaust your mind) that made me feel a little less alone. In order to describe what it’s like when anxiety and OCD consume you, you use metaphor, “Know this. There are ropes around my feet, holding me down, and when I bend to untie them they are vines that grow and grow and take root even deeper.” This digs so deep into my felt experiences that I start to choke up every time I read it. It is rare when I find such truthful and spot-on language in writing to dictate what I’ve been feeling all these years.

I believe your memoir should be read by everyone, not just those with mental illnesses or those who wish to read narratives with which they can relate. The book crucially examines America’s history of mental illness treatment by providing in-depth research of the tumultuous and problematic practices of the past and present. I read in horror about the American mental health industry’s history of lobotomies, eugenics, unsafe administration of psychopharmaceuticals, and the disillusionment that deems mental illness as “curable” and not “chronic.” Even though these parts were uncomfortable, I knew that was your intention. America tends to participate in a collective forgetting, where we push our horrific histories away because we’re ashamed to admit that such a “wonderful, problem-free” country participated in such atrocities like icepick lobotomies. But we need to address these pasts so we can expose the ways sufferers of mental illnesses have been wronged. With stories like those told in your memoir, we can start to change the stigmas and narratives of mental illness treatment.

Another necessary part of your memoir was the way you illuminate female experiences with mental illness, using both personal narratives and research. “Women’s silence is learned. Since childhood I’ve been taught that working-class women—women like my grandmothers my mother, me—need to be tough and resilient. There is no time, no space for weakness, for emotion, for the indulgence of madness.” Many female narratives in general are marginalized, so one can imagine how the female narratives of mental illness and trauma are even more suppressed, yet in dire need of exposure. To start a dialogue about mental illness without mention of the female body and experience would be to not talk about it at all.

I would like to thank you, Sarah, for sharing your narrative, for presenting the problems surrounding the psychopharmaceutical industry, America’s treatment of mental illness, and the female experience with mental illness. It is because of Quite Mad and your beautiful words that I have found the courage to share my own narrative. Your words are powerful, captivating, and necessary, and I will carry them close for a long time to come.

Courtney Clute

The Coolest Monsters

Dear Megan Baxter,

Thank you for your book, The Coolest Monsters. This debut essay collection is electric, a true page-turner. I read it in just a few days as I sat on a porch in Wyoming with a view of the Bighorn Mountains. These essays, all stitched together, awoke something in me, a certain nostalgia for lost childhood, mingled with a sharp reminder of real-life monsters and challenges. I also experienced a keen taste of love and its many faces. I appreciate how you leaned into writing about love and loss, particularly about romantic love, without layers of irony and coolness or even false humor the way many writers treat these subjects out of a fear of waxing cliché or sentimental. Your first person, present tense, lyrical style exudes a palpable urgency. These essays are alive and wriggling.

A wise writing mentor of mine once recommended I write from within an experience instead of telegraphing. For the longest time, I wasn’t sure what he meant by that. But your collection presents a model of what it looks like to write from within, to relive and render with poetic detail the lived emotion rather than a flat telegraphing of merely what transpired. Your descriptions lingered in my mind long after I put the book down:

birch spilling over the stone walls
lightening white and purple
eyeliner sharp as bird’s markings
neat hexagons of last year’s wasp nests

This is the work of a writer with a powerful imagination, as vivid as a child’s, who runs up against pressing, difficult adult questions. The result is magical, luminous, and often surprising. What I especially appreciate about this book as a teaching model is how you play. So often in workshop classes I have heard well-meaning but dangerous warnings such as:

Avoid second person.
Present tense limits you too much to write something long and sustained.
Numbered section headers are a cop out for finding the narrative arc.

You “break” many so-called “rules,” and the result is thrilling. Thank you for sharing your answers to these questions I had about what brought you to this collection:

1. What was your process for getting this collection together?

First of all, I’m so glad you enjoyed the collection. I’m driven by the idea of how things relate to each other. I’ve been thinking a lot about the action of collecting recently and examining everything from albums, to books, to museums exhibitions but ‘The Coolest Monsters’ came together very organically. I began writing the pieces in this collection when I moved to a new city and had three months of blissful back-pay from the job I’d recently left behind. I hadn’t written in over five years and felt creaky getting back to the page. I started where I always begin, in a journal with hand written notes and those notes grew and concealed into a list of twenty ideas for pieces. I didn’t know at first what genre they would be but as I began it became clear to me that it was essential to their power that they presented themselves as truth. I wrote about 75% of the pieces in the collection during this three-month time period. As the essays started to accumulate I found that they were all connected, which is perhaps not particularly insightful discovery since they are all based on my life, but thematically they grew as I matured in age. There are a few pieces that didn’t get collected and some that I inserted later which added to the depth of the themes and brought a sense of reflection to the book. Some of the pieces were long and others very short and where it was possible in the time-line of the story I inserted short pieces between long ones to break up the readers pace and control the dynamic energy inherent, I believe, in shorter works. The essays are arranged chronically and are thus more of an accounting than a collection.

2. You have an ability to evoke the child narrator with real energy and believability. What helps you do this? Can you say more about the full spectrum of writing tools in this collection?

I am thankful that this comes across. Although I acknowledge some of memory’s slippery tendency I feel that I have vivid recollections of my childhood. This memory tends to recall sensory details more than narrative and so I tried to seep myself in those details as I wrote. Smells, tastes, sounds and images fill my notebooks. Sometimes they seem to be the only thing I remember. I also began telling stories at an early age and thought a lot about narrative. I think many children who grew up loving books have this natural tendency to see themselves as characters, to dress up, to try on different voices. My memory of childhood feels magnified by my sense of story – princesses and villains, fairies in the woods. I think in my twenties I did a similar thing by imaging myself grown up, settled and happy. To invoke these memories I simply have to remember the girl I wanted to be at that time. I didn’t write from pictures and I did very little research in these essays. I was more interested in mining my own memory.

3. Though you do write primarily in present tense, especially in the beginning of this collection, you have a few essays written in past tense. How do you decide which mode to work in?

Tense alters the way a reader experiences a piece more than any other tool I can think of. The present tense brings urgency to the page while the past tense creates separation between the voice and moment of the story. It was important to me that the rush, the flood of being young came across in the essays. Of course the present tense is limited by this immediacy and makes it challenging to weave reflection into the narrative. There are other ways of offering reflection – of course every detail of setting, image and word is controlled by me, the older, hopefully wiser writer but where I needed to open up space for that mature voice I felt bound to use the past tense. I also feel that this reflects my sense of self within the narrative arc of the essays. As a child I thought a lot about the present moments and the future and as an adult I have a tendency to daydream and time travel backwards hoping to dredge up meaning or discover some familiar joy in a memory.

4. I noticed that in several of your essays, you speak directly to the tropes of storytelling. You discuss the words The end in “A Princess Story,” that the narrator was becoming a character in a story I didn’t like in “The Promise,” and that the narrator realized I wasn’t in a story in “Heal the Sick”. You also address this thematically in one of the final essays, the beautiful and ominous “The Wrong Love Story,” where the narrator proceeds with a planned wedding despite her inner sirens. To what extent do you think we trap ourselves in these story tropes, or to what degree does waxing meta about stories within stories speak to a universal truth?

I’ve been reading a lot of Carl Jung recently and his type of analysis was very narrative focused and perhaps unique to the culture in which he developed his ideas and therapeutic techniques. Freud seems to me to be more concerned with the stories that we can trapped in than the stories we tell about ourselves. One is interested in free will, the other in pre-destination. My fiancé is a psychiatrist so we speak about this often and I feel that stories are both terribly dangerous to one’s sense of self and also essential. Some of the earliest lessons we learn as children come in the form of stories and fable and are meant to be instructional at the same time that they are enjoyable. I read and was read to often by my parents. My sisters and I also watched every Disney VHS religiously. I was surrounded by story and as I grew I sometimes felt trapped in a narrative line. Other people might describe this differently but I wanted very much to have a happy ending and the way to that was through tropes that I’d absorbed both through story and culture. They can be restrictive, yes, but easy. The hard things lie outside the lines. Stories, as we know, aren’t always true but the act of telling stories is a communal attempt to find meaning, teach lessons, and gather insights from whatever disorderly life we live. A story isn’t an essay but an essay can contain a story and then break those bonds all to pieces.

5. What are you working on now?

I am working on a series of food articles for a local paper, a travel essay about returning to the city where I spent two years in college, and a piece about having an essay of mine fact-checked. I’m in the research stage of several others and completing a long lyric essay and a hybrid research piece which I find really exciting.

6. What advice would you give to an aspiring essayist?

Stay curious. Be someone who is interested in things. Read not just essays but poems, history books, novels, magazines, shampoo bottles, diaries and song lyrics. I like my essays weird and vibrant, like they’re trying to bear hug all these things that wouldn’t normally be in a bear hug together. I’m a believer in over-producing. There are many ideas that I don’t research, much research that doesn’t get used and journals that are beautiful but useless. But once I feel two or three things buzzing together, magnetized, I’ll fight to the end to make an essay work because I know there’s something there of interest. Joni Tevis, who is an amazing essayist, told me to focus on the things that I’m attracted to and can’t look away from, the things that come up again and again with an almost pornographic fixation. I think that’s great advice.

Rachel Rueckert

Sustainability: A Love Story

Dear Nicole Walker,

As a natural born worrier, it eased my anxious mind to know I was not alone in wondering what the future of our world is going to be. Despite the fact that I do not have children, a husband, or a permanent home to worry about, the questions and commentary you present in Sustainability: A Love Story echoed some of my deepest fears: are we going to last? How do we teach the younger generation about sustainability? How do we apologize to them for the damage we have done? Can any of the efforts we make somehow make a difference?

What drew me into this collection of essays was not solely based on the fact that I adored the quiet balance of a cautiously optimistic yet fearful tone, but that this collection has never felt more urgent. Each piece, from “Sustainability: A Love Story” to “Why I Did Not Ride my Bike Today,” had an awareness of time that intertwined a call to action, the rhetoric of environmentalism, and personal narratives flawlessly. The connections between the personal and the worldly were so smooth, calling my attention to what I needed to pay attention to, making me aware of things I should focus on, and asking me to try and be better for myself, my loved ones, and this planet. Moments such as, “If eight graders can’t rebel against their parents’ carbon loving ways, there is no hope,” emphasized this sense of urgency. I couldn’t shake the endless list of possibilities and paranoia that the rhetoric of environmentalism and personal narrative this collection evoked. It made me want to change because it showed that the two elements are so intertwined. Without Earth, how do we exist to even love in the first place?

This collection echoes. It says things that are hard to hear. Things like, “Lies don’t last very long. Neither does the truth,” and, “The world is hard to keep. But there are whole days when I think we’re going to make it,” are said in an unashamed voice, a voice that becomes self-aware of the destruction we cause as humans, while simultaneously realizing the beauty we (as humans) can bring to this world. Looking at your children, calling to the rain gods, debating if we should shower or drink coffee or give up both to help the world: everything weighs heavily on the takeaway of this timely published collection.

But more importantly, or what I loved most about these essays, was the fact that every page was somehow connected with something else. Each word echoed in a following essay. Or the symbolism and metaphors extended so far beyond their respected essay that I felt them resonating in the depth of my chest long after I closed the book. At one point you write “Nouns are interchangeable.” Titles are interchangeable. Places. People. Things. And that is what works so well in this collection: we see sustainability as a placeholder for family, love, marriage, loss. And we see love, marriage, family and loss as a form of sustainability. Without these, we neglect to exist. We need to keep them healthy. Alive. And that is the takeaway of this collection: the symbolism and ease of interchangeability of the things we can or cannot live without, whether this be Mother Earth, fire, ash, rain, children, coffee or showers, helps readers realize what is truly important to them. It encourages us to ask: how do we preserve one thing to save another? And, more importantly, can we?

After reading this incredible collection, my desire to learn more about sustainability is fueled. I want to gather information and make change. In “Dear Rain,” you write “You don’t have to read it. But listen.” Although this line is taken from context where the narrator is writing a love letter to rain, it also breaks the fourth wall. It invites readers in and demands us to take action. It was these two short sentences that brought me into the collection on page eight and didn’t let me go. I am still in the grip of these words, of this awareness, and I am determined to make something right. How? I am still unsure. I am fearful and cautiously optimistic, but it is something. Maybe I’ll begin writing about it. Maybe I’ll change my lifestyle. Maybe I’ll rake pine leaves from my yard and not drive a Prius or give the young children I babysit cautionary tales about guns and condoms. The possibilities are endless. Our world is not.

I’ll end with my favorite quote from the collection: “I am trying to see things your way but my own eyes get in the way.” Let us blink, clear our vision, and see. Let us read. Let us write and let us learn. It is only then that we will understand, and thus, have the possibility to change. Thank you for this beautiful, wonderful examination of environmental rhetoric and personal narrative. I am forever moved.

Sincerely,

Macey Sidlasky

Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past

Dear Kathyrn,

When I first opened “Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past”, the images of balloons carrying people through the skies made me think of a moment my mother and I shared in Kenya. Our lodge in the Masai Mara offered a hot air balloon safari, the chance to fly over the herds of zebras and wildebeests dancing the ballet of the Great Migration. But Mum was hesitant to be ballooned up into the sky, and so we chose to skip the opportunity, something that Mum came to regret as we watched the balloons taking off, carrying those braver than us to a forever memory.

Thankfully, your book gave me another chance to fly. We soared through the barriers of time and sky. I felt welcomed by the lyricism of “Float, Cleave” and “And Now Brightness Falls From the Air…” which lifted me up into the world and history of hot-air ballooning, with the same wonder, fear, and excitement that must have colored the mind of Elisabeth Thible, whom I learned to be the first woman ever to fly in an untethered hot air balloon. I was fascinated by Benjamin Franklin, and by the minds of southern Civil-War soldiers, who came from a world where, “it was dangerous to put a balloon down…[where] they’d hang you sure as shit for Yankee bedevilment and espionage.”

But the purest magic of the book truly took form as we began to see how you were able to connect the terrestrial and oneiric by weaving in the personal narratives of those who took these vaunted flights, or even just the ants they would see beneath them. The woman who feigned birthing rabbits or a gentle son who, “reminds us all that it’s pretending to think he’ll live forever,” all of them reveal to us why these tall tales, rumors, astonishments, and wonders carry such deep and intimate meaning for any person who reads them.

I love history deeply and grow excited at even passing mentions of eras like the French Revolution or moments like Marie Antoinette stepping on the foot of her executioner. I found such a true magic in the way that you were able to bring history to life; to make it intriguing and dynamic and mystical, something far more accessible than the textbook-like spiels people often expect from history buffs. But while, “[your] husband is not interested in reading about Marie Antoinette’s hair,” there was no detail that you included that seemed esoteric or extraneous, and I truly found myself enthralled with each individual epic or national ripple.

Reading the book reminded me of a podcast that I once listened to during my nightly gym session at an LA Fitness in the Alhambra neighborhood of Los Angeles. The podcast is entitled, simply, Revolutions, and their third season rounded to roughly 50 episodes on the French Revolution, some of the most history rich lessons I had ever experienced. Reading your book added that lyrical flare that turns an otherwise dry description of the Palace at Versailles into descriptions like, “the candelabra are dolphins, as are the mantle clocks.” There are a myriad of brilliant lines and gorgeous vocabs words throughout, but certainly one of my favorite sentences had to be, “the loom performs its apoplexies with a nutmeg grater.” I feel as though, like Marie supposedly told me to, I am eating a cake of language, one as rich and grand as the pre-revolution calking of Versailles.

I would recommend the book to both the niche grouping of French Revolution nerds with propensities towards balloons, as well as a wider swath of humanity that adores learning and adventure, language and lyrics, and the lively humanity that beats the heart of any true, human drama. Thank you for your teachings, your boundlessly fun lyrics, and the ethereal aplomb with which these otherwise disparate things are brought together.

Sincerely,
Pat Templeton

The Good Girl is Always a Ghost

Dear Anne Champion,

I don’t know how to write about this book. It contains a rage that usually only silence can hold. So I will start with a story:

I saw a therapist for a year. I hated men, in a quiet way I would always deny. My therapist picked up on it from little things: my irrational fear of windows and being looked at through them, my fear of my own body, and my wild protectiveness over the women in my life. She saw my poetry as an opportunity to redeem men and myself. To complicate the world a little, to make it less black and white.

I wrote something. Less a chapbook, more so a mirror.

But your book, The Good Girl is Always a Ghost, is the book I needed to know, not write. My therapist was right; that poetry was my avenue to moving forward, but she was wrong about the hierarchy of needs. I did not need to redeem men and then myself. I needed to redeem myself, then women, and connect us. That is what this book does. It feels as though it let me in on a secret that I had no idea I was keeping. A secret that “when women squealed / it was only at realizing they could save themselves.” How “a woman’s smile / can be a muzzle.” How “the finest thing a woman can wear is her untethering.”

Every poem you write is a reflection of Woman’s experience and catches in the back of my throat like a scream. I feel anger. I feel comfort. I feel productive rage, near blinding. From your poems exalting these women to the 41 biographies of them, you give a voice and context to those who remain largely voiceless in our history. It reads like an encyclopedia of womanly captivity, which in turn, brings the captivity to light. From the censored life of First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis, to the tortured cruelty of Aileen Wuornos, the first recorded female serial killer, I see in your writing just how deeply the male gaze permeates everything. This makes the fact that there isn’t a single cis-male main voice in the book even more imperative. I never really think about the fact that I don’t exist in spaces that are reserved only for women and people who are transgender. The only ones set up for us are sororities and convents, which generally exist at two extremes of the spectrum.

Even when we do have all-women stories, we so often homogenize them, (as I have just done with sororities and convents—forgive me) make all women into a nurturing bunch of kind nuns, or a sexualized group of party girls. This book takes women who have been placed in these boxes, like Mae West, Bettie Page, and Marilyn Monroe, and explodes them out of the boxes. How Marilyn didn’t “teach me how to be beautiful; you exposed / what the world does to a beautiful woman when everyone starves / for her, when you have no choice but to let them feast / on your body.” How sexual freedom even becomes a cage.

We move on to women of power, who we can surely put into a box as the stoic prude. But no. Women like Indira Gandhi, Meena Keshwar Kamal, and Rosa Parks, who all push so hard for our untethering. Indira, who is called an “old hag” in the poem because of her perceived unsexuality which makes her useless in the male gaze. An emotion we all are aware of. The look in a man’s eyes after I tell him I’m lesbian, until he decides that, too, can be sexualized.

This book is not all rage. It is hope and communion among women. It is reminders of our outstanding beauty and worth. It is a lesson and a prayer.

This book was what a release for me to read, and provided a new space to sit in with women I had never related to before.

Thank you for seeing and speaking so clearly,

Haley Morton

Radiation King

Dear Jason Gray,

I stand by the assertion that all poetry and religions are a cry in the dark towards the endless something that we can’t reach. Radiation King is a violent smash of the most basic parts of our being into that void of dark matter, of beginning and ending, of whatever next is. In the poem “THE VISIBLE SPECTRA”, you actually name this uncertain variable and complicate it: “The latest math finds ninety-five percent / Of the universe subluminous: dark matter, / Dark energy. We don’t know what it is, / Except it isn’t dark.” This dark, endless mystery is no longer dark. It is made into something familiar through your words. You bring the abstract expansive dark to the light, describing what can only be described as nothingness, as we sing along to this explosive, scientifically generated poetry.

You look down so closely at the cells of your own reality that it quickly becomes recognizable as anyone’s cells. The amount of care and thoughtfulness and personality that goes into the choice of each description brings the reader closer to what you see, and closer to the way we might see the world. It becomes important that it is my cells that you are talking about because it is so urgent the way you are conveying the message. This book already feels necessary, but your tone of urgency makes it seem even more important that we read it. The exaltation of the smallest, most irreplaceable pieces of our being: the atom. Treated as if they are to be respected and feared, little gods. Hydrogen bombs are more human than humans in this post-apocalyptic daydream. Someone had to write this in the terrifying, increasingly pre-apocalyptic world we live in. I’m grateful you were the one to do it. Who else could have held the drama and desperation in: “By the time Andromeda /Is our permanent firework, someone /Is watching us, and we are ghosts.” For the empathy of: “but death is not a rabbit/ Pulled from your coat on a crowded subway”.

The tone drifts from solemn and desperate, as in “RED”, to satirical, as in “US RADIUM’S FINEST PERSONNEL MAN TO THE NEW RECRUITS”. The former using words like “scratching at the walls” and “The Wolf can see you / Riding Hood so run / Run run, run Red run” twisting the tone to life or death. The latter of the two, with death, apocalypse, radiation, and quiet violence permeating every pore, feels undeniably like a fresh White Noise (by Don Delillo).

“COLOR IS AN EVENT” marks the center of the book, and continues your cry into the darkness, into the unknown, towards the end. In this section, the specific detail makes me feel as though I am walking in to your fever dream and waking up in my own. All the details are so specific and thoughtful that we can see it as clearly as if it was our own thought, but it feels so personal it must be a dream. Each poem feels almost like an obituary in the wake of the impossibility of tomorrow.

Blue: “Oh sweet shipwreck. / I would de-blue you stitch / By stitch, raise the bluest flame from your skin / With every kiss, flood and loose every vein / Until all left is your cloud-breaking peak.”

Violet: “A little massacre, or, a massacre / Of little things, the slow lurch of sea snails / Made them immensely catchable.” You make it seem so obvious, and yet so specific and absurd, we could never have thought of it. Of course this is what blue is the most. Of course violet is a massacre.

The book finally implodes into itself in the last section: “ATOMS”. Small breaths of words mark the beginning of each page, without title and in a consistent recognizable form, beginning only with “You have to start / Somewhere.” You bring us to the ocean, bring us back and back and back until we see the way you see. There is always that desperation, the need to “Clutch for anything.” The sea is the only thing left to save us, the thing that will bring us “To know if we’d corrode / Or heal.”

This book showed me that “The Universe is not collapsing back”, and somehow combines us all into a single atom that is the same. I feel the urgency. I feel the threat, without feeling hopeless. There is always connection.

Thank you for this cry,

Thank you for connecting us all so thoughtfully,

Death feels like delight in this collection,

Haley Morton

 


Haley Morton is a poetry student at the University of South Florida. Her work often centers around the experience of women, and the search for identity. She lives in Tampa, FL.

BOMB

Dear Ashley Inguanta,

 

I have tried to write poems about being gay. I have tried to write poems that make me feel more real, like I could really reach out and touch things the same way that someone completely comfortable with their sexuality could. Of course, words can’t do this for me, but, as a poet, replicating experience with words is the only way I know how to create. There always seems to be some distance between me and my own experience, unreachable by my own words. Your book BOMB, in its rising out of the ashes, a new creation story, has offered peace that no words had offered before.

 

Reading your book deconstructs the form of love poetry created for us by great love poets of old and explores love between women that is so often dismissed as pornographic. As a queer writer, this distinction has been a weighty one to breach. What is the distance between love and identity? And how does one make a cry in that direction? Your book abolishes this distance, love is love and grief is grief. Gender makes no difference. Lines are blurred not only between love and grief, man and woman, but between seeing and being, and dreaming and seeing.

 

The longing in this book propels the reader forward into the loss and anguish of love, alongside the stories that push the speaker’s life onward: $12 rose, creation stories, Amelia Earhart, burials, baseball games, and the bomb. The author’s longing presents itself in repetition of themes and images. Over and over again we hear about this “her” and poems are titled “dedications” to many different people, and we are moved back to “the woman I will marry”. This repetition represents the never-ending nature of the desire that the speaker feels. It also raises questions about the future and whether or not the feeling of losing love will ever go away. We reach the lengths of mundane and most exquisite existence in this book, not just lesbian experience, but human. It’s a prayer. The language feels like it’s coming from somewhere deep inside you that knows of something deeper inside of readers. It offered a reaffirmation of my own queer humanity in many ways, by making no distinction between being queer and being human.

 

Prose entwines itself with poetry as you experiment with line breaks and form from poem to poem. The freedom of the form shows itself in prose pieces running into traditional stanzas running into micro poetry that is filled with blank space. All of these forms create an individual experience that somehow feels as though it can be applied to all our lives. “I imagine you running, wet concrete / from rain.” You cast the uncertainty of love into the light of angels who may or may not do what we expect them to do. Renaming the pieces inside of us that we want to know best through surprising images, syntax curling in on itself, and form that breaks our expectation of love in half. This book is a bomb to what we know about love in so many ways. But most profoundly it is a bomb to the heteronormative love that we are used to seeing, twisting it out of its shell that has been passed down from generations of poets.

 

You paint the experience of grief as a “body flatten[ed] into horizon”, creating the feeling into something tangible. And from this “bomb” of destruction comes a reverse evolution of grief. Things must start growing again from the rubble eventually. An “animal/becomes flower”. Two things: equally beautiful, equally wild, the world remaking itself after such a loss. Offering peace for the reader and speaker alike.

 

This book has offered words to my experience. Offered some sort of description to being queer that isn’t a fight for humanity, but a description of it. Even better that this book is not about being gay or loving a woman. It is about being a person. Triumphantly so. It embodies humanity in a way that is intoxicatingly reachable to the reader.

 

I left my first reading of the book wanting to cry and kiss. Thank you.

 

 

Your fan,

Haley Morton

 


Haley Morton is a poetry student at the University of South Florida. Her work often centers around the experience of women, and the search for identity. She lives in Tampa, FL.

 … return to Issue 11.2 Table of Contents.

Fan Mail

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Read full review here!


Nice Things by James Franco

Nice Things CoverNice Things by James Franco is filled with chaotic, yet surprising moments that take readers through a maze of lyrical and narrative twists and bends. Along the way, you transport us through time, alternate us between third and first person, and take us through the stream-of-consciousness, existential processes of an artist.

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Be With Me Always by Randon Billings Noble

Be With Me Always CoverReading your book, Be With Me Always, I am reminded again of Sherlock Holmes in your approach to every haunting, and every visitation of your body by a ghost. Holmes makes an appearance in your list essay, “69 Inches of Thread, Scarlet and Otherwise”, but I noticed the similarities before this. When you ripped through Vivaldi arpeggios without realizing you had an audience, I pictured Holmes playing his Stradivarius. In “A Pill to Cure Love” you dissect the way a body metabolizes a love affair, and I pictured Holmes performing extractions in his home chemistry lab. Holmes’ devotion to justice, I liken to your hunger for understanding your ghosts. As Holmes hunts for criminals, driven by empathy and a lust for intellectual challenge, so too, do you hunt for your ghosts.

Read full review here!


Still Come Home by Katey SchultzStillComeHomeBookCover

When reading, Still Come Home, I was in a mason jar of dust and oak and apricot. The novel was a self-contained entity of imagery and conflict that incited all the senses. Sweet to read yet there is a discomfort created within these pages, wounds that bleed out in lyrical prose and conflict. Discomfort in the good way. This is the kind of reading that can be absorbed in one sitting, because one can’t stop, but do, because the lines created need to be inhaled and exhaled.

Read full review here!


The Good Girl is Always a Ghost by Anne Champion


I wrote something. Less a chapbook, more so a mirror.

But your book, The Good Girl is Always a Ghost, is the book I needed to know, not write. My therapist was right; that poetry was my avenue to moving forward, but she was wrong about the hierarchy of needs. I did not need to redeem men and then myself. I needed to redeem myself, then women, and connect us. That is what this book does. It feels as though it let me in on a secret that I had no idea I was keeping. A secret that “when women squealed / it was only at realizing they could save themselves.” How “a woman’s smile / can be a muzzle.” How “the finest thing a woman can wear is her untethering.”

Read full review here!


Quite Mad by Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Another necessary part of your memoir was the way Excerpt text here
you illuminate female experiences with mental illness, using both personal narratives and research. “Women’s silence is learned. Since childhood I’ve been taught that working-class women—women like my grandmothers my mother, me—need to be tough and resilient. There is no time, no space for weakness, for emotion, for the indulgence of madness.” Many female narratives in general are marginalized, so one can imagine how the female narratives of mental illness and trauma are even more suppressed, yet in dire need of exposure. To start a dialogue about mental illness without mention of the female body and experience would be to not talk about it at all.

Read full review here!


The Coolest Monsters by Megan Baxter

Thank you for your book, The Coolest Monsters. This debut essay collection is electric, a true page-turner. I read it in just a few days as I sat on a porch in Wyoming with a view of the Bighorn Mountains. These essays, all stitched together, awoke something in me, a certain nostalgia for lost childhood, mingled with a sharp reminder of real-life monsters and challenges. I also experienced a keen taste of love and its many faces. I appreciate how you leaned into writing about love and loss, particularly about romantic love, without layers of irony and coolness or even false humor the way many writers treat these subjects out of a fear of waxing cliché or sentimental. Your first person, present tense, lyrical style exudes a palpable urgency. These essays are alive and wriggling.

Read full review here!


Sustainability: A Love Story by Nicole Walker

As a natural born worrier, it eased my anxious mind to know I was not alone in wondering what the future of our world is going to be. Despite the fact that I do not have children, a husband, or a permanent home to worry about, the questions and commentary you present in Sustainability: A Love Story echoed some of my deepest fears: are we going to last? How do we teach the younger generation about sustainability? How do we apologize to them for the damage we have done? Can any of the efforts we make somehow make a difference?

Read full review here!


Brief Interviews With the Romantic Past by Kathryn Nuernberger

When I first opened “Brief Interviews with the Romantic Past”, the images of balloons carrying people through the skies made me think of a moment my mother and I shared in Kenya. Our lodge in the Masai Mara offered a hot air balloon safari, the chance to fly over the herds of zebras and wildebeests dancing the ballet of the Great Migration. But Mum was hesitant to be ballooned up into the sky, and so we chose to skip the opportunity, something that Mum came to regret as we watched the balloons taking off, carrying those braver than us to a forever memory.

Read full review here!


Radiation King by Jason Gray

Dear Jason Gray,
I stand by the assertion that all poetry and religions are a cry in the dark towards the endless something that we can’t reach. Radiation King is a violent smash of the most basic parts of our being into that void of dark matter, of beginning and ending, of whatever next is. In the poem “THE VISIBLE SPECTRA”, you actually name this uncertain variable and complicate it: “The latest math finds ninety-five percent / Of the universe subluminous: dark matter, / Dark energy…….

Read full review here!


Sweet: Volume 11


View From True North by Sara Henning

What strikes me early on in your book is how women take care of everyone—not just the innocent, not just other women or children, caught up in the web of men’s violence, but the men, too. The grandfather, the central figure in this book, is an abuser who ends up with dementia in his old age. His daughter, the speaker’s mother and a victim of her father’s rage, becomes a caretaker. “She holds him on his knees,/grits these words through her teeth: You’ll never/hit me again.” The speaker’s mother gets this much power, but still takes care of her father.

Read full review here!


The Edge of Every Day by Marin Sardy

I worked in a mental health crisis unit for a short time last year. One of the things it taught me has been reiterated so thoughtfully in this book, The Edge of Everyday: everyone has their own reality. From person to person, the variations are usually only slight, but, on chance occasions, they vary so completely that the world is almost unrecognizable as the same one. This is usually defined as a mental disorder, in this book’s case, the mother has a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Read full review here!


This One Will Hurt You by Paul Crenshaw

It’s late Friday night. I’m in this Starbucks, one of only a few patrons left, and of course, Birdy’s cover of “Skinny Love” comes on. I don’t remember when I first heard it, but that piano and that voice send me spinning, swimming through memories. The sun’s set but the sky’s still an ombre of periwinkle into Stevia green into Easter yellow. The empty tables have me fidgeting for connection, for a recognizable face to appear.

Read full review here!


The Skinned Bird by Chelsea Biondolillo

I must admit: the sight of a dead, mangled animal makes me queasy.

Growing up in Indiana, surrounded by acres of cornfields, living in what felt like the coyote hub of the Midwest, I saw my fair share of animals torn apart by predators. My German Shepherd enjoyed the hunt. My friends’ fathers were avid hunters, always elaborating on the process of draining their conquests, always debating my claims of, “But they have a family!”

Read full review here!


A Certain Loneliness by Sandra Gail Lambert

The summer I moved to Florida, almost two years ago now, I called up my mother’s younger cousin, Kimber, to arrange a visit. We picked a date in late July or early August. I hadn’t seen Kimber, her husband, or her two daughters in probably ten years, when we all visited Disney together in 2007, so after driving two and a half hours up to Gainesville, we ate at local restaurants, watched movies in pajamas, and stayed up telling family stories. One particular event has become a running joke, a family legend: the visit to the La Chua Trail.

Read full review here!


Educated, A Memoir by Tara Westover

For three months, I have started, struggled, then stopped writing this letter about your recently published memoir, Educated. It is easy to note your stunning prose, which is vivid, clear, and utterly captivating, and the remarkable ways with which you have rendered such difficult material regarding your family and unconventional journey to gaining an education, particularly your generosity, openness, a sustained metaphor, and painstaking honesty. It is harder, however, to put my finger on, then articulate, how deeply this book moved me, and why.

Read full review here!


BOMB by Ashley Inguanta

I have tried to write poems about being gay. I have tried to write poems that make me feel more real, like I could really reach out and touch things the same way that someone completely comfortable with their sexuality could. Of course, words can’t do this for me, but, as a poet, replicating experience with words is the only way I know how to create. There always seems to be some distance between me and my own experience, unreachable by my own words. Your book BOMB, in its rising out of the ashes, a new creation story, has offered peace that no words had offered before.

Read full review here!


One Size Fits None by Stephanie Anderson

I recall one of my teachers in my early education urging my classmates and I during a science lesson: “Take a look next time you drive. What is Indiana? Corn . . . and soybeans. Soybeans . . . and corn.” She began to give the words a musical rhythm and before long, the entire class was excitedly chanting along with her.

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Daughter in Retrograde by Courtney Kerston

About this time last year, I sat cross-legged on layers of duvets and blankets, against pillows that seemed to stretch the length of my body, with my knees knocking against two of my best friends’ criss-crossed knees. With our thumbs scrolling across our glass phone screens, we each analyzed the results of our natal charts, trying to will meaning into memory and patterns into plans.

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The Middle of Everything by Michelle Herman

As a mother, and a writer, I’d like to thank you for writing The Middle of Everything: Essays on Motherhood. I’m deeply grateful for the insights you’ve shared as a Jewish-American woman, a writer, a mother, a wife, and daughter. I was so moved to read about your experiences with love, friendship, and parenting—moved to tears in fact, in many places. So much so that I believe your book will be one of the handful that I am certain to return to time and again.

Read full review here!



Sweet: Volume 10



Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart

I laughed out loud until my stomach ached. I cried like a baby. As both a writer and a Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union, I spent my entire journey through your memoir, Little Failure, feeling both grateful and affirmed. Finally, someone else out there understands what it’s like to always be—as you so accurately put it—“at the margins of places.” The old world is still in the rear view, and the new is not entirely within reach.

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Apocalypse, Darling by Barrie Jean Borich

I grew up in the same town my entire life, at the north end of Valparaiso, Indiana, near the border with Chesterton. After I moved away for college, whenever I returned for brief visits or holiday breaks, I almost always blocked out time for the Indiana Dunes. Now it’s clear to me that grief, both for home and a recent loss, had me searching back there.

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Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly

Thank you, thank you. Your book, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs, makes me want to write. I am beginning this before I have even finished the book.

In addition to being grateful—so few things I read make me want to write—I am, of course, also a little mad at you. You have written a book very much like one I want to write. In this book, you do so many things I want to do in my own writing. The sentences with their conversational rhythm, always ending in poetry. The scenes laid out more like a poet would do it than a prose writer, without quotation marks and always with an eye towards explanation, the interest more in what the scene means than merely what’s being said. The memories that seem to surface and sink again without the writer’s control.

Read full review here!


Surviving Jersey by Scott Loring Sanders

I must admit: I’m fearful of flying. To get home without driving two full days, I must fly. During two recent flights to and from Florida and Indiana, I squeezed into the seat and tore through Surviving Jersey.

Read full review here!


A Bestiary by Lily Hoang

When I first saw the cover of your book, before its release, I was intrigued. There was something about the small, swirling flowers that reminded me of a Flemish tapestry, a unicorn perhaps laying in wait. And then I read about its insides: a collection of fragmented sections, organized according to the zodiac. Done. And so when I left Florida, fearing a hurricane, I brought your book with me. This, I thought, this will help.

Read full review here!