“Désirée Zamorano’s third novel, The Amado Women, is an unflinchingly honest look at family relationships and the joys, sorrows, and ultimately unshakable love in these ties that bind. Like A Day Late and A Dollar Short and other work by the late Bebe Moore Campbell, The Amado Women fills a need for female-driven novels of substance, humor, and well-drawn family relationships. The novel opens with the 60th birthday of matriarch Mercedes Amado, known as Mercy. In attendance are her eldest daughter Celeste, who has flown into Los Angeles from her hideaway in San Jose, Mercy’s middle and only married daughter Sylvia, and Mercy’s youngest daughter Nataly. Nataly and Celeste are not speaking because of a grudge Nataly holds against Celeste, but the three daughters manage to enjoy a wonderful celebration with their mother.”—Hope Wabuke reviews The Amado Women by Désirée Zamorano.
Writers and painters and stand-up comics and other creative types where solitude is so critical—these folks often think that the pair phenomenon is for others. But creative intimacy is so much more than “collaboration.” In writing especially, the problem of the hidden partner is rife. Most good editors don’t talk about what they do. It’s often indiscrete, or even disrespectful. I just heard the story of a magazine editor who lost his job because he’d lost the confidence of his writers by talking so promiscuously about how he rescued their work. Michael Pietsch, who edited David Foster Wallace, said that “The editor works in disappearing ink. If a writer takes a suggestion, it becomes part of her creation. If not, it never happened. The editor’s work is and always should be invisible.”
And some writers don’t even have an editor yet, or an agent, but many of the same functions of muse, critic, sounding board—these get played by members of writing workshops, spouses, special readers. (John McPhee calls them his “listeners.”)
“The representation of mental illness in art is fraught with the tension inherent to any profoundly shattering human phenomenon. Like death or war, insanity is a reality rich and storied enough to support the trappings of a broad range of genres and aesthetic choices: slapstick straight jacket gags and terrifying visions of the mind’s hinterlands are borne with equal aplomb. But even in the most beautiful, strange and sympathetic renderings of mental illness (the paintings of Francisco Goya, say, or the poetry of John Berryman), it is hard to escape a certain entrenched taxonomy of representation.”—What About Bob? And My Bad Years by Dustin Illingworth.
“I want to say that I don’t want anything
but the whisper of yr scarf as you do
the Dance of the Seven Veils
soft sound of yr satin slippers on the carpet and the raw, still bloody meat you toss my way
that I chew all night long.”—From “The Poetry Deal,” the title poem of Diane Di Prima’s new book, reviewed at The Rumpus by Barbara Berman.
“You see, the term “Basic Bitch” and has been Columbus-ed. White people want so badly to be in on the joke of making fun of white people (so as to seem hip and down and to escape criticisms of whiteness, supremacy, and racism themselves) that they picked a group of white people they can lampoon and make fun of, all while distancing themselves from whiteness, a very tragic practice summed up neatly as “White People Be Like ‘White People Be Like.’””—
“I like short books. And I wanted to write one. You mention a play, and it certainly has things in common with a play. It takes place mostly in one location—four people in a house. And if you have a central conflict that is compelling enough I think you can pull that off.”—The Rumpus Interview with David Bezmozgis.
For three years, Vela has addressed the byline gender gap by publishing high-quality, long-form, happiness-inducing nonfiction writing on environment, ethics, family, home, identity, immigration, motherhood, the outdoors, politics, relationships, religion, science, violence, travel culture, and wilderness (essays available straight-up, lyric, or photo).
Vela has “held a national nonfiction writing contest, created a master ‘Unlisted List‘ of nonfiction writing by women, initiated a weekly roundup of reviews entitled ‘Women We Read This Week,’ begun a regular column called ‘Bookmarked‘ in which established women writers recommend their favorite work by women,” and has become a 501(3)(c) nonprofit – all without any funding ($0). So, “make it rain on [them],” and most likely Vela will solve gender polarity for all time.
With funding, Vela “can become a more powerful, widely recognized, and important voice in the publishing industry.” Fuck yeah!
Who can donate:
Gender non-conforming individuals
Anyone with an Internet connection
If you’re unable to donate because you’re one of those writers who doesn’t get paid and so doesn’t have funds set aside for Kickstarter campaigns, then:
Make time in your day to show support for writers by reading what they write, clicking “Like,” and complimenting them IRL, maybe in front of ex-boyfriends or dads who never really believed in their writerly dreams.
“To call a story set in an enormous castle “claustrophobic” feels odd, but that’s the first adjective that comes to mind when you read Black Lake, Johanna Lane’s hypnotic debut novel. Part of the claustrophobia is due to the plot: the Campbell family has lived in a castle called Dulough (Irish for “black lake”) for centuries, and can no longer afford to maintain it. Patriarch John will be forced to give the family home to the government, whereupon it will be turned into a museum. Philip, the Campbell family’s young son, is worried, and has every right to be. “He told himself that if he wanted to come back… he could. It was still his room. Dulough was still their house. Their father had told them so…” Later, Philip sees a KEEP OFF THE GRASS sign on his own (former) front lawn, and it feels so foreign that he leans back to the gravel, like a reflex.”—Ted McLoof reviews Black Lake by Johanna Lane.
On the poster Swimmy appears to be in love with a boy but then again maybe dolphins don’t even have genders. They’re supposed to be mammals but I’ve never seen a dolphin with breasts. I’ve always had to draw them on myself. If Dolphin Tale 3 has human/dolphin hybrids then I guess I’ll have my answer.
Should you go see Dolphin Tale 2? I mean what’s the worst that could happen?
In school I sought escape from the nightmare of home, but found neither refuge nor solace, for I was Clint Baker, the boy who played with dolls. So I turned to the church for love, but its love was like chocolate to a dog, a delectable poison. Still, it so mimicked my father’s love, conditional yet capricious—can I be blamed for being so horribly mistaken? I dutifully enrolled in Bible College, where the staff discovered my misplaced diary, and therein the crush I had on a fellow student (years before the crush on the aforementioned Mr. Shaw). Thus I was given the ultimatum: if I was to remain in school, I had to enroll in therapy to convert to heterosexuality. Even after I transferred to Indiana University, I remained in the treatments so as to merit the love of God and man—when all I longed for was the love of a man. When I, wishing to no longer commit the sin of lying, dared to speak the truth that I was most definitely not turning into a heterosexual despite my best effort, I lost nearly everyone.
Then the state of Indiana slashed my funding for school and eliminated the insurance that I needed in part to treat the effects of having suffered a decade under the quacks who failed to transform me into a perfectly acceptable heterosexual. I packed my maximum four bags onto a Greyhound bound for Minneapolis, a place I knew only by reputation—the best decision, aside from abandoning the quackery, I have ever made. My worst day in Minnesota is better than my best day in Indiana because I can breathe free.
I come from strong people. I am Strong. Could I really have any other name?
“Antrim’s stories center around white men in their thirties and forties, mostly in New York and often with Southern roots. These men are uneasy inheritors of Prufrock. They ask not “Dare I to eat a peach?” but “Ought I to light a joint?,” as one character queries in a fun, raucous party scene that becomes a frantic search for a former lover. They are adrift, mourning losses. Artists and intellectuals and lawyers who possess cultural capital and enough money to be middle class or upper-middle class (though typically not enough, by their lights, to feel secure), they struggle with anxiety and depression and grandiose flights of mania. They go on Madison Avenue shopping trips, buy—well, steal—outrageously expensive bouquets of flowers for their wives, mount ill-advised productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring undergraduate nudity, pretend to be doctors while hauling ex-girlfriends’ paintings to the dump. They occupy friends’ apartments. They attend book launch parties. They smoke; they drink bourbon and Scotch. They fret.”—Cara Blue Adams reviews The Emerald Light in the Air by Donald Antrim.
“Dyer paints himself as the always-astonished traveler. He is delighted and horrified by the whistle and destructive awe of jet planes and the carrier’s suctioning (often non-suctioning) toilet system. Dyer’s is surely an exaggerated persona. But the mask is also humbling. However much we may envy Dyer’s globetrotting, we would never trade our peccadilloes for his. Witness his self-conscious discomfort when meeting the crew: “I actually found I’d adopted the physical stance of the monarch-in-the-age-of-democracy (standing with my hands behind my back) and the corresponding mental infirmity: nodding my head as though this brief exchange of pleasantries was just about the most demanding form of communication imaginable.””—Clinton Crockett Peters reviews Another Great Day at Sea by Geoff Dyer.
As far as I knew, no one knew about Return to Oz . I can’t even recall an origin story, how the movie actually showed up in my hands. My sister claims we just found the VHS somewhere, maybe in an overlooked bin, at some video store that may have been Blockbuster. I do remember looking at the cover and knowing immediately that I wanted it. We went home and watched it. And watched it again. And watched it again. And watched it. Again.
This is an Oz you might unfamiliar with. The film begins with Dorothy Gale—the same Dorothy character previously played by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, but now played by a younger Fairuza Balk—shortly after her return to Kansas. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are growing concerned with Dorothy’s inability to sleep, and what they see as her obsessive delusions, this odd fixation on a place she’s created in her head. In order to help cure her, they bring her to a mental institution to be treated overnight via electroshock therapy. It’s nighttime, it’s raining, and Dorothy can hear the howls of other patients in pain.
This unexpected premise resonated with me as a child. At that age, I felt just as Dorothy did—misunderstood to the point of feeling like an alien, finding home only in imagined worlds. I was brought to see a psychiatrist for similar reasons. Why this obsession with the imagined? Where was reality? I was always more concerned with my inner world than socializing with the other kids around me. So prone to fantasy, I hardly even noticed my peers. In pictures, always looked both meek and haunted. My eyes darted elsewhere.
Way back in the 1990s we, Zoe Zolbrod and Martha Bayne, decided to publish a zine. For months we zipped editorial ideas back and forth on our brand-new AOL accounts, and then, shortly after Martha emigrated from Brooklyn to join Zoe in Chicago, we produced our first issue: a hot-off-the-presses publication called Maxine, with a print run of 500 that emptied our meager bank accounts. We put out five issues at the rate of about one a year before the burden of designing and printing and dealing with distribution and throwing illegal loft parties to pay for it all started to outweigh the thrill of publishing. In the years since, as we’ve watched would-be zinesters and journal editors establish online literary communities, we’ve often volleyed what-ifs. Respectively, we’ve each been busy with things like writing novels and cookbooks and organizing community food projects and doing theater and having kids and working jobs and talking to each other, but we haven’t worked together on anything. We missed it.
So you can imagine how excited we are to take over as Sunday editors of The Rumpus from the inimitable Gina Frangello, who has done such great work here that it is taking two of us to replace her. Gina and The Rumpus have offered us both homes for some of the recent writing we’re each most proud of, like this piece of Martha’s on an unexpected pregnancy and this piece of Zoe’s on loving Chicago . We can’t wait to share the work of others with this community, starting with this week’s essay by Amy Jo Burns, whose new memoir Cinderland caught our eye right away and is out from Beacon Press this month.
“Collectively, the poems of Copia ask: is plenty enough? This question resonates with conversations about commercialism and consumption. Meitner frames these dialogues in the first poem, a litany, where she tells us, “Objects around us are emitting light, transgressing,” and “Objects around us are blank and seamless[;]” they are also “durable” and “not strangers.” They “shimmer.” Objects both “wrap us in compassion” and “are no substitute for anything” (11-12). From this poem, “Litany of Our Radical Engagement with the Material World,” Meitner’s Copia may seem an anti-capitalist jeremiad; and, for some readers, it may be. Yet, here is Meitner at Wal-Mart, driving her “enormous cart / through the aisles and fill[ing] it with Pampers, tube socks, juice boxes, fruit.” Here Meitner finds gratitude for “small mercies.” She moves, like most of us, through these commercialized spaces, touching polyester, appreciating how it can be “used over and over again” (13). Meitner finds in the world of Wal-Mart and Niagara words of love “written with the motel pen” (24-5). This gift of Copia: its plenitude and the space and time Meitner takes exploring it.”—Julie Enszer reviews Copia by Erika Meitner.
“Yet, Midnight Cowboy fails—and why? Because elsewhere, Schlesinger seems to undermine Salt rather than collaborate with him. Salt has great love for his characters and finds thematic directness and purity in the way he constructs scenes (as he would find again in Serpico and Coming Home, films he wrote for directors—Sidney Lumet and Hal Ashby, respectively—whose visual styles were also direct and pure). Schlesinger, however, was an experimental filmmaker at heart, and in Midnight Cowboy, he fractures the narrative wherever possible. Joe’s history in Texas gets presented in evocative glimpses—a blond woman rocking young Joe, men breaking into a car while Joe has sex with a woman, et cetera—making pretentious what, in Herlihy’s novel, is merely banal and longwinded. (Take your pick between those two artistic sins, I suppose.) There’s a jarring moment early in the film of diegetic sound becoming alien when Joe (and, therefore, the film) visualizes a series of women he hears as voices on a radio. It’s stylistically cool, perhaps, but also pointless, and it establishes Schlesinger’s approach as a director: to fuck with things that ought to be left alone. As such, Schlesinger strives to make Midnight Cowboy an “art film,” with the surreal fragments of Joe’s past; the mixing of fact and fiction (i.e., involving Warhol’s Factory stars in the action at the hilariously dated hipster party); and the indefensibly silly sequence where Ratso imagines Florida, including wheelchair-bound old women chasing him into a pool.”—Adapting To Film: Midnight Cowboy by Benjamin Rybeck.
“Boyhood borrows from Jonathan Lethem’s seminal novel The Fortress of Solitude in that it relies on period songs, throughout the film, to allude to precisely which year we are in, and while this is historically admirable it gets a bit stale after a while (the songs function more as markers for era than as songs themselves, with the result that the music rarely adds to the mood—it’s as if the songs are data points).”—Swinging Modern Sounds #58: Crowdsourcing by Rick Moody.
“Comprised of thirteen spastic, horrific, heartbreaking, and humorous chapters weaved into one narrative, Fourteen Stories gives us the deepest thoughts of Goebel’s alter ego, H. Roc, on an RV journey across America. While the themes of Americana, exploration, spirituality, and psychedelics are a hat-tip to Kerouac, the prose (and often long-winded rants) reads more like Burroughs. It’s energetic, fragmented, and rhythmic in a way that’s almost dangerously tempting to read quickly. Each sentence is loaded with complex ideas that need to be slowed down and analyzed, about identity, life after death, and the real and the imagined.”—Rebecca Schultz reviews Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours by Luke B. Goebel.
“A lot of people think of Christopher Columbus as that guy so obsessed with spices that he was willing to risk lives just to make his food taste a little different. Even the world’s top chefs wouldn’t be willing to let people die just to make the perfect dish. Columbus was the ultimate foodie.”—TED WILSON REVIEWS THE WORLD #254: Christopher Columbus gets 2 out of 5 stars. PRETTY GENEROUS TED.
“My mother always was working a lot, very busy, and I don’t feel like she spent time giving me messages about dressing, or femininity, or femaleness—I feel like there was a huge part of my education that I never got. So part of the reason I think I wanted to do this book was not only to think about clothes but to think about femaleness and femininity and all these things that I was lucky not to have received big lessons in. You couldn’t hear her, but Leanne just said I was lucky—I’m sure I was lucky but I also feel like there’s a gap in my education that I’ve always kind of been curious about. With my father, too, there was no emphasis in my family placed on how you looked. Though my mother is somebody who puts care into how she dresses, she just didn’t project that onto me.”—The Rumpus Interview with Women in Clothes: Heidi Julavits, Sheila Heti, and Leanne Shapton speak on “on perfume selection, whether to wear lipstick as a female Israeli soldier, and wardrobe choices as an Orthodox Jewish woman in an MFA program.”
We are so close to meeting our goal, and are throwing in some cool swag for our backers, like exclusive art prints, stickers, and postcards! Any little bit counts, so please spread the word! We have just under a week to go!
"For $30, you’ll get a physical copy of Quaint’s 4th issue as well as a personalized cocktail or food recipe by our very own Jennifer Hanks (mixologist extraordinaire!) or Soleil Ho (the raddest young chef south of the Mason-Dixon!). Here’s how it works: give us the title of your favorite work of fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction (or even your own!) and we will develop a recipe using that as its theme. A beautifully designed recipe card will be delivered to you via email."
“… when the surface shifts
water washes into old whitewashed tires.
But that place
Busted cattails frothing near a bottle of bleach.”—In the Marble of Your Animal Eyes by Nathan Hauke, reviewed by Brenda Sieczkowski
“We need more books about black girls and what they need and their world. It is vitally important for black girls to be nurtured and supported. They deserve to control their images and have healthy communities. We have to support our black girls because the load is heavier for them. I’m talking about leadership. When Michael Brown happened, black women were beneath the surface, running things, leading the protests. Look at Trayvon Martin’s mother.”—The Rumpus Interview with Brian Gilmore
“Corrigan…is on a mission to set straight the pervasive “misreading of Gatsby, now amplified a million-fold” by the recent Baz Luhrmann film, “that the novel is the literary equivalent of a luxury spending spree.” At its core is not excess but longing, she argues, that fundamentally American state of desiring what is just beyond reach. “It’s not the green light, stupid; it’s Gatsby’s reaching for it that’s the crucial all-American symbol of the novel””—Anne Boyd Rioux reviews So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan
“My grandmother died this past January, and I did not attend her funeral.
I live in Boston now and she lived in Hisarya, Bulgaria, and I could not afford the plane ticket. This is the equation every emigrant tries to solve: distance times the cost of travel equals helplessness equals heartache equals guilt.
I carried my grief like a bruise on a part of my body hidden from others. I told my husband about my grandmother’s passing but did not want to discuss it, and I didn’t tell any of my friends except one, weeks after the fact, in a text message. I could not bring myself to talk about losing my last living grandparent, because talking about her would mean talking about the literal and figurative ocean between where I come from and where I am now.”—We Who Leave by Adriana Cloud
Recently, leaning across the table at a chic Marin breakfast place, my mother squeezed her breasts together, pushing them up and out of her camisole. “Look at these babies! I thought your boobs were supposed to shrink after menopause but mine have gone crazy.”
I squirmed in my seat—sure that the passing waiter and the older couple at the next table were watching with horror. Put those things away, I thought. Of course, why would she? She’d been pulling them out for longer than I could remember.
“It was my first up-close encounter with either and I remember being so confused! The Mekons were a six?—eight? twelve?—person ball of howling chaos; Acker was thin and reserved, clearly gravely ill but silent on just with what, and saving her every energy for the moment when, perched on a stool onstage, she would did down deep into her abdomen and declaim: “THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD COME DOWN AND BREAK, THE MOON EQUALS CRACKS IN MY CUNT.””—Kathy Acker, Pirate by Martha Bayne