Art with Knuckles

In Reviews on April 17, 2014 at 7:00 am


by Michael Deagler

Chris Abani writes about the lost. His books chronicle the second lives of the dispossessed, the far-from-home, the spiritually dead, and, at times, the physically dead. His settings, even when of this world, take on a ghostliness that corresponds to the Not-in-Kansas-anymore psychological states of his characters. In his first two major novels, Abani tackled Lagos (GraceLand) and Los Angeles (The Virgin of Flames), but he has found perhaps the most charismatic city of lost souls yet for the setting of his newest offering: The Secret History of Las Vegas.

Character Assassination

In Poetry on April 16, 2014 at 7:00 am


by JoAnna Novak


Vows I make

in the snow—wet,

banked, comparative-

minded, sums we mine

and times don’t, her igloo

sustains greater heat;

mine melts like sometimes

under sun harder than Chicago

sun bright beating brash:

so close your eyes. Welcome,

usher of dreams, itch and

pestilent lash-dry scrapes,

thought through confiscating

my mind, its possibles and

sympathies and vows I eradicate

in erasable my failure,

irascible on a chalkboard,

a cake stand, a molded

screen howling with screamers

I want to devour.


JoAnna Novak is the Pushcart Prize-nominated author of Laps (forthcoming from Another New Calligraphy), a limited-edition micro-collection of fiction, and Something Real (dancing girl press, 2011), a series of flash fictions. Her writing has appeared in Black Warrior Review, DIAGRAM, Guernica, and other journals. New work is forthcoming in Hobart, Joyland, Forklift Ohio, and The Los Angeles Review.

Image: Young impact crater Pwyll on Jupiter’s moon Europa, 1996

Explorers of the Anomalous and Weird

In Reviews on April 14, 2014 at 7:00 am


by Christopher Schaeffer

American paranoia is a funny tendency; it’s always in high tide. Even when historicized thoroughly, plotted out in relation to previous decades of conspiracy theories, panics, and hysterias, we have a penchant for looking out on the surf of alarmist headlines and furtive, covert online message boards, thinking, “right, this is it. This is the paranoid Moment.” Call it meta-paranoia if you’d like– the academic impulse toward hand-wringing and obsessive scrutiny at the broader social instances of hand-wringing and obsessive scrutiny. The trend was kicked off, perhaps, by Richard Hofstadter’s 1964 polemic “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” which almost lovingly offers a detailed taxonomy of the far-right Imaginary– a thought-world populated by superhuman enemies, apocalyptic teleologies, and intense psychological projection. Since then, the “paranoid style” has been the objet petit a in a kind of prolonged game of “pin the tail on the ideology,” alternatively ascribed to the far left, the far right, and everything in between (a 2013 blog post on the right-wing site American Conservative, for example, offers a direct, if belated, rejoinder to Hofstadter with “The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics”). Poet and critic Susan Howe, in The Birthmark, has fingered the primordial combination of theological, political, and environmental elements facing the first Puritan settlers as a hotbed of nascent paranoia, and Thomas Pynchon’s novels have, collectively, elevated the paranoid style to something almost like a cogent religious system. By the late ‘90s, theorist Eve Sedgwick was able to muster evidence enough to read and critique paranoia as a set of strategies constituting a master-hermeneutics of suspicion a la Riceour, with starkly delineated coordinates:


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