Books & Fiction

Fiction: De Gaulle and I

Tara Taghizadeh

In the picture I have of my grandfather, he is standing next to General de Gaulle. You can’t see his face, though. What you see is the General in the midst of a crowd, and beside him is a man wearing a bowler hat with his back to the camera. The owner of that hat was my grandfather – according to him, anyway. “General de Gaulle is dead. France is a widow,” he’d say, shaking his head this way and that. Actually, President Pompidou said it on the radio, on a day as cold as hell when crows gathered on skinny branches covered in snow.

Reading 21st Century War Stories (Part II)

Kara Krauze

Sometimes our stories will end on that happy moment, a hero back from hell, even if reductive or just a moment in time; and sometimes the return will involve a different kind of hell, a reckoning with memory and the past, a reckoning with the schism between a then and a now. This cohesion and possibility for healing—and sometimes art—happens in the telling of the tales, the shaping of experience, character, setting, wherever the story may take us on that narrative arc. 

The Pros and Cons of Digital Publishing

Gerry LaFemina

One of the ongoing themes in the variety of AWP Conference panels that focused on the future of publishing this year had to do with the role of technology in the marketing of books, and how much of that marketing must be done by the writers themselves.  Time and again agents, publishers, and editors emphasized the symbiotic technological relationship between publisher and author. Synced Facebook and Twitter campaigns, the use of Goodreads as a forum to cultivate readership, book/author websites and blogs all play into promoting a book.

Family Secrets Emerge from Iconic Photograph in Marisa Silver’s ‘Mary Coin’

Lee Polevoi

In her new novel, Marisa Silver richly re-imagines the subject of this photograph as Mary Coin, struggling to keep her ever-growing family alive. The photographer who captures the melancholy image is a polio-stricken artist named Vera Dare. Silver tells their stories both before they cross paths in California’s Imperial Valley and as they diverge in the years thereafter. For different reasons, the well-known photograph haunts their lives: 

Zelda Fitzgerald: The Invented Woman

Sandra Bertrand

The truth is, Zelda has become the stuff of myth.  It’s no surprise, then, that St. Martin’s Press has just released Z, A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler.  It’s a daunting enterprise, putting words in Zelda’s mouth, imagining her rich emotional life, whether jumping in a fountain in Washington Square, pinioned against a wall by Ernest Hemingway in a supposed sexual assault, painting watercolors from within sanitarium walls, or listening in bed to a husband’s cobbled dreams that may involve a sexual tryst with the same Hemingway.

Author David Massengill on the Joys of Writing Macabre Fiction

Snapper S. Ploen

These enticing stories of darkness and intrigue are pulled from the shadows by the mind of prolific Seattle writer David Massengill. His recently published collection of short stories, Fragments of a Journal Salvaged from a Charred House in Germany, 1816 and other stories (Anvil Fiction), spins a series of foreboding tales that infect the imagination with both dread and unique descriptive nuances. Massengill was kindly enough to sit down for an interview with Highbrow Magazine to talk about his recent publication and his thoughts on writing in the exciting new world of digital books.

Literary Flashback: Reading ‘This Is Where I Leave You’

Kimberly Tolleson

As one might expect, when all these semi-estranged siblings and their provocative mother are forced to be under the same roof for seven days, shenanigans, fights, heartfelt moments, and confessions ensue. At the outset, it all feels a little too set up and predictable, almost a bad knockoff of Jonathan Franzen’s novel The Corrections. Many characters have a too-familiar feel to them. 

The Great Race: An Author, a Coupe, and the Thrill of the Ride

Steven J. Chandler

Dina Bennet has an interesting take on American literature’s classic road trip. In her book, Peking to Paris, she recounts the 8,000 mile classic car rally which she undertook with her French-born husband Bernard in a 1940 GM LaSalle coupe nicknamed “Roxanne.” The race brought them from Beijing to Russia, across Central Europe and finally into Paris. It was a road rife with possibility for social, political and cultural insights. We don’t get much further, however, than the author’s anxieties and allegiance to a husband bent on winning gold at all costs. 

Reading 21st Century American War Stories: Heroes, Hell, and Back

Kara Krauze

The 21st century in America has been permeated by war, almost from the start; even while most of America’s citizens remain unaffected—directly anyway—by its vicissitudes.  We need a literature that can begin to convey the multiplicities of war: the adrenaline; the sweat and blood; the isolation; the brotherhood; the memories and questions; and the return home. We need a narrative for America’s 21st century wars, and yet no single narrative will suffice.

Franz Kafka and the Politics of a Novel

Karolina R. Swasey

While Kafka emerged as one of the most significant and widely read modern authors in the US and Western Europe right after the Second World War, his works were ostracized and banned throughout the entire domain of the “Real Socialism,” which sprawled out from Moscow to the border of East-Berlin. Until its first publication in Moscow in 1965, Kafka’s Trial was merely a mysterious typescript that was secretly passed around from hand to hand, concealing the author’s name and origin. A typescript with explosive power, as it turned out. 

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