Literature

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Sesshu Foster’s City of the Future by Ammiel Alcalay
City of the Future

I first encountered Sesshu Foster through his cotranslation of Juan Felipe Herrera’s masterpiece Akrilica and an anthology he coedited, Invocation L.A.: Urban Multicultural Poetry. It was 1990: I’d just returned from six years of intense political and cultural involvement outside the US. The Gulf War was right on the horizon, and in the hyper-stratified world of US poetry, where class and cosmos had taken backseats to an almost purely theoretical politics and poetics, I was in search of allies and kindred spirits. With Foster’s work, I felt I’d struck pay dirt.

Roque Larraquy’s Comemadre by J.W. McCormack
Comemadre Abedit

Let’s begin with death. “Let’s say that in the course of all human experience, death is pure conjecture: it is, as such, not an experience. And all that which is not an experience is useless to mankind.” The speaker here is Ledesma, one of a cadre of lovelorn, thoroughly chauvinistic doctors up to no good at a sanatorium just outside Buenos Aires.

Shiv Kotecha’s The Switch by Corina Copp
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It’s possible that like John the Divine—aka John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation—Shiv Kotecha has been plunged into boiling oil and suffered nothing from it, his audience converted into sweet lambs upon witnessing the miracle, and the prophet-poet cast forever unto the brightness of exile.

Daaimah Mubashshir’s The Immeasurable Want of Light by Rachel Valinsky
Imeasurable Want Cmyk

Capaurisces (pronounced “kuh-pour-i-ces”)—a combination of a far-flung galaxy made of “99.99 percent dark matter” and an artist colony in New Hampshire—is the unlikely setting for Daaimah Mubashshir’s The Immeasurable Want of Light, a collection of short plays recently published in book form as part of the playwright’s ongoing project Everyday Afroplay. Beginning in 2016, Mubashshir developed a daily writing practice in response to Chris Ofili’s Afro Muses painting series, offering a sustained meditation on Blackness and the Black body.

Dirty Plotte—The Complete Julie Doucet by Austin English
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The second issue of Canadian cartoonist Julie Doucet’s Dirty Plotte begins with a four-panel strip called “Month of December.” We see the author standing on the edge of a highway overpass, looking down. She remarks “Christmas is coming… / Snif, it’s cold.…” She hurls herself off the ramp, yelling “And I’m gonna die!!!?”

Something Like Hope: On Virginie Despentes’s Vernon Subutex 2 by Rebecca Rukeyser
French Park

An eerily at peace coterie.

Young, Adrift, Bereft: On Jessie Greengrass’s Sight by Angela Woodward
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Scientists, motherhood, and other probings of the female body.

Living with Contradiction: On Weight of the Earth, David Wojnarowicz’s Tape Journals by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
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The real-time making of an artist.

Gunnhild Øyehaug’s Wait, Blink by Ryan Chapman
Wait Blink

What kind of novel would you write if you had never read a novel before? Would it have the mounting tension of a campfire tale? The breathless cadence of fresh gossip shared with a best friend? If you’re Norwegian writer Gunnhild Øyehaug, you unspool 50,000 words with the inventiveness of Scheherazade and the guilelessness of a Red Bull–fueled, hyperarticulate ten-year-old. This is Wait, Blink.

Ninety-Nine Footnotes: On Dag Solstad’s Armand V by Bradley Babendir
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An anti-novel about the value of the unseen, unknown, and unwritten.

A Bildungsroman Spy Novel: On Rosalie Knecht’s Who is Vera Kelly? by Kristen Martin
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The covert operative with a complex psyche.

We Are The Thoughts of Sorrows: On Lou Reed’s book of poems Do Angels Need Haircuts? by Alex Zafiris
Reed Review

After The Velvet Underground, a poetic underworld.

The Limits of Sympathy: On Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room by Daniel Pearce
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What literature can (and can’t) tell us about America’s criminal justice system.

A World Without the Present: on Yoko Tawada’s The Emissary by J.W. McCormack
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The novelist’s latest imagines an apocalypse that feels all too likely.

A Taxonomy of Refusal: On Anne Boyer’s A Handbook of Disappointed Fate by Julia Bosson
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Essays that investigate the poetics of “no.”

Two Things at Once: On Harry Mathews’ The Solitary Twin by J.W. McCormack
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The pleasures of literary play in the writer’s final novel.

Mundanity and Insanity: on Joy Williams’s The Changeling by Lincoln Michel
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Rediscovering a beguiling masterpiece forty years after its publication.

Sheila Heti’s Motherhood by Monica Uszerowicz
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When I was young, my mother told me that when she was a fetus in her mother’s womb, her own body already contained the egg that would one day be fertilized and become me. It’s an image akin to an infinite-loop motif—a Droste-effect woman in a woman in a woman

Lynne Tillman’s Men and Apparitions by Michael Valinsky
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Lynne Tillman’s first novel in twelve years, Men and Apparitions, follows a narrator ruminating on his own subject position: Ezekiel “Zeke” Stark, a cultural anthropologist, conducts a study of men’s reactions to and impressions of the changing nature of masculinity in America today. 

The Rest Is Silence: Magnus Mills’s The Forensic Records Society by Sean Adams
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The comic turmoil of the mundane, with musical accompaniment.

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