2 A.M. in Little America

As with pop music and fashion, literature tends to follow the tide of emergent cultural movements, ideas, conflicts, and challenges. Occasionally, as with Ken Kalfus’s latest novel, 2 A.M. in Little America, a work of art looks further ahead, responding to our present moment by imagining a possible future. Ostensibly responding to our own increasingly […]

A Most Generous Offer

A Most Generous Offer Photo by Carsten Ullrich    i. The apartment in Beijing was Lin’s and mine until Ma made the generous decision of allowing old Mrs. Yang to move in. My sister and I spent our summers there. Lin liked to trample through the weeds caulking the patches around the apartment building, gathering […]

Seeking Fortune Elsewhere

The eight stories in Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, Sindya Bhanoo’s exquisite debut story collection, paint a portrait of characters struggling to make sense of the lives they have been given and trying to figure out what, exactly, lies within their control. The stories take place in India and in the United States, in the late 20th […]

Now you Know It All

Now You Know It All, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, reads more like a collection of very small novels than a collection of stories, given the breadth, depth, and twists in each offering. It’s not that these tales feel like stories that want to be novels—they are decidedly and perfectly what they should […]

Shit Cassandra Saw

In Greek mythology, Apollo grants Trojan priestess Cassandra the power to prophesize the future, but curses her after she refuses his sexual advances by making sure no one believes her visions, therefore facilitating the destruction of both Cassandra and Troy. But in Gwen E. Kirby’s electric, poignant, hilarious, and fiercely feminist story collection, Shit Cassandra […]

What Could Be Saved

Gregory Spatz’s short fiction collection, What Could Be Saved, raises essential questions about the nature of the art by offering us a glimpse into the lives of violin makers, whose artistry and technical prowess are the shadowy forces that give full articulation to a violinist’s talents. Just like the instruments they create, the job of […]

Mad Prairie

Certain states seem to be mentioned only when people are listing the ones that nobody ever mentions. Kansas is an easy target. Our broader understanding of Kansan culture seems to have been cut off at The Wizard of Oz, most of which takes place in a fantasy world that is explicitly not Kansas. Whether the […]

Rhinoceros Ridge

Rhinoceros Ridge Photo by Nacho Domínguez Argenta “You remind me of my brother,” I tell Ricky. We’re making out on the grass behind the cellar. Rocks dig beds into my knees, stationed on either side of Ricky’s ips. Far away, but not far enough, I hear the stray dogs howl. “Don’t be gross,” he says, […]

Forum

Josh Wardrip’s debut novel Forum begins with an epigraph from Pindar’s First Pythian Ode. In it, the Theban poet recalls the ill repute of the sixth-century despot Phalaris, “who burned men in his bronze bull. . .” We learn some hundred pages after this epigraph that a similar “brazen bull” stood in the center of a forum in […]