Book Review – Friend: A Novel From North Korea by Paek Nam-nyong and translated from Korean by Immanuel Kim.

Amazon.com: Friend: A Novel from North Korea (Weatherhead Books on Asia)  (9780231195614): Paek, Nam-nyong, Kim, Immanuel: Books

My review of Friend: A Novel from North Korea is up on Full Stop.

This novel was written in 1988 by Paek Nam-nyong, a writer living in North Korea and a member of April 15 Literary Production Unit, a regime-sanctioned group of writers tasked with chronicling the saga of the Kim dynasty. The novel has attracted attention outside of the DPRK for years, even spawning a play in South Korea. The novel was made into a television series in North Korea. It is, perhaps, the most well-known modern work of fiction from that country.

My review of the novel for Full Stop explores how something can be at once a work of art and a piece of propaganda. I also ask what contrasting Friend with western media depictions of North Korea can tell us about propaganda, both in DPRK and the USA.

Read the review here on Full Stop.

Get the book here from Colombia University Press.

New Story – A Heliograph to Kin Kletso – Weber: The Contemporary West

weber-coverweber-page

I’m very excited that my story, “A Heliograph to Kin Kletso,” is in the newest issue of Weber: The Contemporary West.

My birthday falls mid-December and so several years ago, Erin arranged for us to visit Chaco Culture National Historic Park in northwestern New Mexico to observe the winter solstice. Chaco Canyon features several large, brick structures built by pre-Colombian, ancestral Puebloan people. If you’ve never been to Chaco or Mesa Verde in southern Colorado, you may persist in believing that pre-Colombian people in the continental United States never developed complex, multi-story, permanent architecture. One visit to either place will disabuse you of that misconception. Chaco’s kiva’s and houses were every bit as brick as a New England mill.

Native people from the area, like Pueblo and Diné people, recognize Chaco as an ancestral site. Academics consider the residents of Chaco a mysterious lost culture. The National Parks Service hosts a solstice event that allows early-risers to observe the sunrise from the ruins and see firsthand how the structures align with the sun. Of course, it was cancelled in 2020 because of Covid-19, but hopefully we can watch it again in the near future.

pueblo bonito chaco

I wrote “A Heliograph to Kin Kletso” after visiting the solstice sunrise. The way time and light converge at Chaco fascinates me. I know Weber eventually posts their issues online, so I will share the link to the story when it’s available. For now, you can get a physical copy here. There are some great poems in this issue and the other short story was terrific, too.

I hate to end this post this way, but, of course, Chaco Canyon and the area surrounding it are threatened by mining and fracking. High Country News has been following the story. Unfortunately, efforts to protect Chaco have been terribly complicated by the pandemic. Actually, the federal government is using the pandemic as an opportunity to push through drilling plans in Chaco while Diné and other native people are fighting Covid. The Navajo Nation has, at times, had the highest Covid rate in the country. The pandemic has totally devastated native people. While community leaders are trying to save lives, federal authorities are scheduling hearings on drilling and mining. It reminds me of how early Europeans used small pox to take land from Algonquin and other peoples.

I wrote a story set at Chaco Canyon, but the story of Chaco Canyon and culture is not mine. It’s ongoing, and it’s not going well. You can give to the official Navajo Covid-19 Relief Fund here.

New Story – Inherit My Life – Expat Press

My new story, “Inherit My Life,” is up at Expat Press. It’s the first in my “metal” series to be published and tells the tale of a young Hessian who encounters freedom in the poverty of others.

I’m really digging Expat Press! Check out my story here.

Interview – Frankie Rollins and The Grief Manuscript

I recently interviewed my good friend, Frankie Rollins, about her book, The Grief Manuscript, which is available from Finishing Line Press. The Superstition Review featured our interview as part of their Authors Talk series. You can hear our interview here.

Interview – Pima Community College – Community of Writers

A few months back, my close friend, Sandra Shattuck, interviewed me for Pima Community College’s Community of Writing series. We talk about writing, ecology, educational economics, teaching, science fiction, and more. I discuss some of my stories, too. It was fun to think about Sandra’s prompts and I’m so grateful to her Southwest Literature students for their questions about my story, “A Heliograph of Kin Kletso,” which will be in Weber: The Contemporary West Fall 2020. Thanks to Sandra and Dan at PCC for making this happen!

New Story – Don’t Fear the Reaper – The Arcanist

My flash fiction piece, “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” is featured on The Arcanist. It’s also on Tales from The Arcanist, the corresponding podcast available right on the page with the story or via Spotify.

“Don’t Fear the Reaper” is a short, uncomfortable moment from the future, a piece of science fiction imagining how the mundane will prevail forever. Nothing to do with cowbell. It’s only 650 words, so check it out.

Thanks so much to The Arcanist for sharing my story. They send one story a week right to your inbox if you subscribe.

Book Review – Kansastan by Farooq Ahmed

Image result for kansastan

My first review with Full Stop is of Farooq Ahmed’s novel, Kansastan (7.13 Books; 2019). The novel recreates Civil War-era Kansas as Muslim society, with most of the action taking place in and around a rural mosque. They’re going to war with Missouri. The narrator is the most narcissistic scrub of all time and the world is out to humiliate him again and again in hilarious fashion. The novel isn’t like anything I’ve read before.

Read my review here at Full Stop.

Get a copy of Kansastan here.

New Story – Everyday Augury – Little Rose Magazine

Gregorio Tafoya, editor of Little Rose Magazine, read my story in Hobart (Hari Kari) and dug it enough that he invited me to contribute something to his site. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to share my story, Everyday Augury. I found plenty of interesting reads on Little Rose, so check them out.

Everyday Augury takes place in Wal-Mart and involves soothsaying. Hope you dig it.

You can read it here at Little Rose Magazine.

Book Review – Bloomland by John Englehardt

John Englehardt’s Bloomland is a novel about a massacre at a rural college told in second person and focusing on three characters, a student, a professor, and the shooter. This book is not for the weak-hearted. It is a tough read, but Englehardt writes the student, Rose, and the professor, Eddie, so real you feel like you know them beyond the book. They could be you. Eli, the shooter, feels a little more constructed from journalism. Overall, once you get used to almost every pronoun being “you” for an entire novel, this book pulls you in.

This is the last paragraph from my review:

Bloomland is a powerful, ambitious novel that bravely takes on one of the most perplexing, terrifying, and uniquely American phenomena—the school shooting. The novel won the Dzanc Books Prize for Fiction, a reflection of both craft and thematic relevance. One can only hope future readers will pick up Englehardt’s novel to understand an idiosyncratic period of our history when we abjured our safety and the lives of our children. For now, perhaps Eddie and Rose and their suffering will indict us through empathy so that we work toward a nation where Bloomland is truly fiction.

You can read the whole review on Heavy Feather Review here.

You can buy Bloomland here.

Here’s the author’s website.