My review of Anna Zett’s Artificial Gut Feeling is up now on Full Stop Magazine. From the review:
Would an artificial instinct, an artificial gut feeling, be determined by the material form of the gut? For example, the wiring within a computer. Would the conditions of its physical existence define the ways its “body” would influence how its intellect made meaning? In the titular story of their new fiction collection, Artificial Gut Feeling, Anna Zett imagines what meaning would derive from the artificial gut feeling. Turns out it’s a suicidal desire for self-immolation; wired systems dream of self-destructing from the heat/excrement produced when they run.
Though Zett’s collection is presented as “personal science fiction,” the work is not easily identified with genre. For example, the heat/excrement metaphor is reminiscent of Georges Bataille’s 1927 essay, The Solar Anus, where heat and light are the excrement of the sun and existence is a cycle of things living within the excrement of others. Invoking a proto-postmodernist like Bataille reflects that Artificial Gut Feeling will appeal more to readers of Judith Butler and Elaine Scarry than fans of Octavia Butler or Liu Cixin. In this science fiction, science provides metaphors for postmodern feminist theory. Zett has clearly researched the science at the foundation of these metaphors, especially electricity and neurotransmitters, and the result is engaging, unique, and insightful.
Read the review on Full Stop.
Get the book from Divided Publishing or Amazon.
Of all the books I read and reviewed this year, Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué collection of poems, Losing Miami, was my favorite. Like many people, I primarily encounter climate change in numbers – numbers of degrees average temps have increase, number of species lost, number of fires, number of hurricanes, and so on. In Losing Miami, Ojeda-Sagué reminds us of the cultural losses we will soon face. He reminds us that geography is an element of culture and when we lose places, we lose ways of being. Things that can’t be expressed in numbers; things best expressed through poetry.
My review of the collection is on Terrain.org. You can read it here.
Get a copy of Losing Miami from The 5 Accomplices.
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.
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.