Mila Jaroniec talks about her debut novel Plastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover,” writing autofiction, the surprising similarity between selling sex toys and selling books, and the impact of having a baby on editing. ...more
Naomi Jackson discusses her debut novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill, how she approached writing about mental illness and its affects on a family, and choosing to to tell a story from multiple perspectives. ...more
It started, as it often does, with a recommendation from a friend, in this case Gabrielle Calvocoressi. She sent me an email saying “You have to look at this book.” I would have anyway, because I’ve been a fan of Adrian Matejka’s work for a long time, and in fact, I wanted his last book, The Big Smoke, for the Poetry Book Club but couldn’t make it happen.
So I was excited when I got a PDF of Map to the Stars in my inbox, and was hooked from the first poem, “Star-Struck Blacks,” which evokes Indianapolis and the Midwestern winters I’ve recently become used to, but which ends with an allusion to a dick joke.
Friday 2/17: Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin’s parents, will discussRest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Tickets are $15–20 and are available here.
Saturday 2/18: Head to Township for Wit Rabbit Weekend #11! Readers include Matthew Corey, Molly Dumbleton, Diddle Knabb, and Tara Stringfellow. 5 p.m., free.
Sunday 2/19: The Chicago Network for Justice and Peace and the Guild Literary Complex launch the Chicago City of Refuge project for exiled writers. The first program features presentations by Unoma Azuah and Osama Alomar. Loyola University’s Piper Hall, 1 p.m., free.
This week, Joyland has a new story from poet and fiction writer Joanna C. Valente about gender, sexual intercourse, and sexual violence. Their story, “You’re Gonna Scream When You Die,” opens with a scene that immediately backs up the dire tone of the title. From the outset, the story is direct, raw, and unflinching in its truth-telling:
He asked if he could come on her breasts. They weren’t using a condom and she wasn’t on birth control but K didn’t like using condoms and Baby Girl was too scared he would stop fucking her if she protested.
Valente’s protagonist, only called Baby Girl, has an array of sexual partners who are referred to only by first initials, who seem to drift in and out of her apartment like so many anonymous ghosts. But this isn’t the empowering kind of casual sex, the enjoyment of two bodies in the freedom of sexual expression; this is something harmful, self-destructive, shadowed by a literal specter that haunts the corners of Baby Girl’s room, watching while Baby Girl lets these men use her body, its face featureless or hidden in darkness. This menacing presence carries the weight of omen or memory, or both. (more…)
In Kris D’Agostino’s second novel, The Antiques, he returns to familiar forms: A dysfunctional family whose members are in various stages of arrested development; a generational home in upstate New York; and the absurdity of life in its most darkly comedic moments. Here, the three grown (yet hardly mature) children of the Westfall family reunite in their childhood home in Hudson in the aftermath of a tremendous hurricane, during which their father has passed away. Bringing all their baggage (emotional, physical, and sometimes in the form of other people), they reconvene to determine the fate of their father’s priceless Magritte painting and, perhaps, to repair desperately strained bonds. The characters are loveable exaggerations, the kind one can easily pinpoint but relate to in spite of, and perhaps because of, their recognizable flaws, and the book is primarily delivered in the bracingly funny dialogue D’Agostino assigns them. Sharp as a mean older sister’s comeback and witty as the brother who always gets under your skin, The Antiques is dark humor delivered lightly, and at a quick clip that makes it hard to put down. (more…)
Welcome to This Week in Trumplandia. Check in with us every Thursday for a weekly roundup of the most pertinent content on our country, which is currently spiraling down a crappy toilet drain. You owe it to yourself, your communities, and your humanity to contribute whatever you can, even if it is just awareness of the truth.