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Life Stories #86: Matteson Perry

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 03:49:45 +0000

After Matteson Perry broke up with his "Manic Pixie Dream Girl," he realized that he'd never really NOT been in a serious relationship since high school, and decided it was time to get casual. Available recounts his adventures, and over the course of our conversation he explained what he learned about himself during his year of no-strings-attached dating, including how the validation he got from being able to land so many first dates was like the thrill he got as a stand-up performer—as well as how he ended up meeting his wife (and not dating her for several months), and what she thought when he told her he was going to write a book about how he was playing the field just before they started seeing each other.

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Life Stories #85: Kim Addonizio

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 04:47:36 +0000

I didn't realize until well into my conversation with Kim Addonizio that she'd written (but never published) a full-length memoir, a straightforward narrative about the breakup of a longterm relationship, before Bukowski in a Sundress, the collection of autobiographical essays that we'd met to discuss. That got us to talking about rejection and failure, which dovetailed nicely into some of the larger themes we'd been pursuing about finding the right voice for each of these essays—some of which deal with personal relationships, some of which tackle the writing process, some of which play directly with her reputation as a "confessional" poet—and about claiming her space as a woman dealing with all the things women have to deal with in literary culture.

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Peter Bush’s No-Hope Sucklers

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 00:20:36 +0000

photo: courtesy Peter Bush Black Bread is one of those novels that builds slowly, through the accrued detail of seemingly disconnected scenes… or, let’s say, a string of scenes where the narrative throughline is not immediately apparent to the reader. It attracted my attention because I know very little about Catalan culture beyond the fact of [...]

Michael Homolka’s Room Full of Rilke

Sat, 03 Sep 2016 01:00:29 +0000

photo:Tamara Arellano Michael Homolka’s Antiquity is the recipient of the 2015 Kathryn A. Morton Prize for Poetry. (Longtime Beatrice readers may recognize the Morton Prize, as a previous winner, Jordan Zandi, shared his love for Szymborksa with us.) Homolka’s poems play with classical forms, sometimes reminding me of Stephen Burt, but always with an emotional tone [...]

Benjamin Hale & “A Game of Clue”

Tue, 09 Aug 2016 05:06:49 +0000

photo: Pete Mauney I liked Benjamin Hale’s The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, which I reviewed for Shelf Awareness, and I was eager to see what he’d do next. After all, a nigh-Nabakovian novel narrated by an intelligent chimpanzee is a hard act to follow—but The Fat Artist and Other Stories doesn’t disappoint. These stories are more [...]

“A Little Something” Haunts Brian Booker

Mon, 08 Aug 2016 03:19:18 +0000

photo: Paul Crisanti Disease and unease permeate the stories of Brian Booker’s Are You Here For What I’m Here For? in equal measure. Sometimes, like in “A Drowning Accident” or “The Sleeping Sickness,” the two come together in eerie, unnerving ways, and even the stories where disease and illness don’t play a dominant role, like “Here [...]

Strange Angels of Maryse Meijer’s Youth

Sun, 24 Jul 2016 23:56:05 +0000

photo: Danielle Meijer Maryse Meijer has an amazing gift for writing about erotic fixation; see the title story in her debut collection, Heartbreaker, for starters. Even stories that aren’t specifically about erotic fixation, like “Shop Lady,” have an unsettling obsessive edge to them. And then there’s stories like “The Fire” and “Fugue” that veer into territory [...]

Life Stories #84: Emily Winslow

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 18:54:35 +0000

In the winter of 1992, Emily Winslow was a young theater major getting ready for her next semester when she was followed into her building by a stranger who then forced his way into her apartment and raped her. Over the years, she had kept in touch with the sex crimes unit of the Pittsburgh police, even after she moved to Cambridge, England. Then, in 2013, the DNA evidence finally produces a match. The suspect is arrested, and the path to justice begins. Jane Doe January is Winslow's account of the months that followed—including her frustration when many of those close to her, unsure of how to address the situation, kept an emotional distance that was, just then, the very last thing she needed.

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Life Stories #83: Val Wang

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 02:52:39 +0000

In her memoir, Beijing Bastard, Val Wang writes about growing up as a Chinese-American and then moving to Beijing in the late 1990s: "I think a lot of people think I was looking for my roots; that's a popular storyline for a Chinese-American. But it was really the opposite for me. I was really rebelling from my roots and looking for myself. That very American kind of journey abroad to find yourself is what I thought I was there for."

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Amy B. Reid: Conversations Overheard

Wed, 08 Jun 2016 18:00:56 +0000

photo: courtesy Amy Reid Lately, whenever I can steal a few moments to read uninterrupted, I’ve been diving into Patrice Nganang’s Mount Pleasant, as translated by Amy Baram Reid. It’s a fantastic novel, set in colonial-era Cameroon, but with an early 21st-century frame that allows for an imaginative reinvention of the past, playful without ever losing [...]