The Wanting by Kevin Clark (author interview)

Interview by Lynn Houston

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(Five Oaks Press, 2016)

Did you serve in Vietnam? What were you doing during that time? What is it you remember most of all about that historical era? 

I consider myself fortunate. My lottery number was 202. The army drafted up to 195. I was a junior at the University of Florida, where I’d gone to run track. The sixties diverted me away from track and on to all the issues of the day. Politically I most remember Bobby Kennedy’s assassination and then Watergate. Personally, I was swept up in the counterculture. Continue reading

The Neapolitan Novel Quartet by Elena Ferrante

review by Jennifer Spiegel

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My Brilliant Friend (2012), The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014), and The Story of the Lost Child (2015): doesn’t this four-book-in-a-row thing blow you away?

My introduction to Ferrante came on the operating table, minutes before I had both breasts cut off. Probably my most-trusted literary confidante had told me to read Ferrante’s The Days of Abandonment (2005), and—for some no-doubt predestined reason—that was the book I took to the hospital to get a double mastectomy in the summer of 2015. I read parts of it, in a hospital gown with only socks on—no underwear. The protagonist’s marriage was over. Reality, contorted. I woke up and read again. My body, compromised.

Continue reading

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Review by Jennifer Spiegel

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I can’t believe it took me so long to read (or listen to) this! I’ve had this latent, mildly unkind disinterest in Didion’s work for a dumb reason. I had to read one of her books in an undergrad class called “Politics and the Novel” (I won’t tell you which one), and I guess I didn’t like it. The class was taught by a Poli Sci prof who liked to read, rather than a stuffy old English prof or a chic/smarmy writer-type: the course was a noble endeavor, but somehow I missed out on the heart of the Didion conversation. Continue reading

Californium by R. Dean Johnson

Review by Paul Fuhr

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(Plume Books, 2016)

There’s a moment midway through R. Dean Johnson’s Californium (Plume Books, 2016) where the novel’s teenage protagonists are comparing the logo of their new punk band to the iconic ones from the legendary bands before them: “Pretty soon, all we’ll need is the top part. Like how people know it’s the Dead Kennedys just by seeing the tomahawk or the Clash when all they see is the guy bent over, smashing his guitar.” It’s a moment that speaks to how emblems, symbols and patterns embed themselves in our consciousness and stay there, triggering instant recall upon seeing them. This is also true of Johnson’s writing: the longer you stay steeped in his words (SoCal, circa 1980), the longer it stays with you and the faster you identify with it. Johnson’s characters—Reece, Keith and Treat—join forces against the headwind of adolescence through the shared love of punk rock. Continue reading

Radiant Action & Radiant Companion by Matt Hart

review by Lynn Houston

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(H_NGM_N Books, 2016)

 

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(Monster House Press, 2016)

“I have only my love / to recommend it beyond what it already is.”
(Matt Hart, “Breaking Spring,” Radiant Companion)

By now, one of your friends has shared a social media meme with lines from the Leonard Cohen song “Anthem” that goes like this: “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

The poems in Matt Hart’s latest two collections, Radiant Action (H_NGM_N Books) and Radiant Companion (Monster House Press), crack open language and spill light on the page. They radiate a galactic sense of warmth and well-being in response to the ever-fucked-up-ness of the world. And aren’t we hungry for art that reacts to hate and violence with love and light? Radiant Action and Radiant Companion are this historical moment’s necessary carnal communion, songs of self that blossom into melodies of every body: “this body—mine and yours, which is the same body” (68 RC); “My veins with your veins, my noise with your noise” (81 RC). Continue reading