Carlos Labbé and Will Vanderhyden read an excerpt from The Fortress

Carlos Labbé was born in Chile and is the author of six novels and a collection of short stories. This year, Open Letter published the English translation of his novel Navidad & Matanza, to be followed in 2015 by Loquela (both translated by Will Vanderhyden). He works in translation and publishing, and writes literary essays, screenplays, and reviews. In addition, he is a musician and has released four albums.

Will Vanderhyden is a translator of Spanish and Latin American fiction, his translation of Carlos Labbé’s Navidad & Matanza came out from Open Letter Books in the Spring of 2014.

Review: Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin & Marissa Alexander

By Daniel Shank Cruz

StandOurGroundFrontCover-660x1024As its subtitle indicates, Ewuare X. Osayande’s anthology Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin & Marissa Alexander attempts to make space for poetry within the fractious public discourse surrounding two recent examples of race-related legal injustice. Osayande explicitly ties the book to the Black Arts Movement tradition of poetry-as-social activism, writing in the introduction that Stand Our Ground “exhorts us not only to face our reality, but to act” and explaining that it contains “Poems that revolt and rebel / that holler, scream and yell” (15, 18). Read More

Alvin Lu reads an excerpt from Early Spring

Alvin Lu was born and lives in San Francisco. He attended Brown University, where he received an MFA in writing, and has worked as a journalist, a salaryman in Tokyo, and a publisher of manga. He is the author of a novel, The Hell Screens, and has been at work on a pair of interrelated novels, from which the section in this issue of Your Impossible Voice is excerpted. More writing at City God.

Review: Somewhere Near Defiance by Jeff Gundy

By Daniel Shank Cruz

somewhereneardefianceIn Somewhere Near Defiance, his sixth full-length collection of poems, Jeff Gundy is at the top of his game. The book revisits Gundy’s usual catalog of subjects — small-town life in the Midwest, nature, Mennonites, being on the road, and so on — but these themes remain fresh under his deft touch. Like two of his poetic influences, William Blake and Walt Whitman (who each appear in several poems), Gundy is a poet of the people in that his poems examine everyday life in a way that elevates it to the sublime. One of the book’s early poems, “Having It All Four Ways,” is written as a catechism, inspiring the desire to read it reverently, as one would whisper a prayer during morning devotions, but focuses on the holiness of fleshly being: “[s]weat, chocolate, lust, and fire” (23). The parallel emphasis on the earthly and the divine is present throughout this collection as an argument that the two are much more closely related than is often assumed. Read More

Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

By Diego Báez

The_goldfinch_by_donna_tartDonna Tartt has turned out a single novel every decade, starting with her bestselling debut, The Secret History (1992), a semi-autobiographical “murder mystery in reverse” about students at a small private school in Vermont. The Little Friend (2002) followed and fixes its focus on the suspenseful, Mississippi-based story of 12-year-old Hattie’s extended family and Southern life at large. The Goldfinch (2013) follows thirteen-year-old Theo Decker, who loses his mother when an explosion destroys an entire wing of an art museum in New York City. Theo’s estranged father reappears and absconds with the boy, removing him to the desert wastes of Las Vegas. Over the course of his drawn-out adventure, Theo finds himself inextricably linked to the novel’s eponymous masterpiece and its role in the underground art market. Read More

Katy Masuga reads Biking at Night

Katy Masuga writes fiction and nonfiction, blurring the lines of distinction. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a Joint-PhD in Literary Theory and Criticism. Her publications include two monographs on Henry Miller, a handful of semi-autobiographical stories on memory, family, and serendipity, and a dozen critical essays ranging in content from Beckett, Wittgenstein, and Blanchot to the history of Shakespeare and Company in Paris to the vegetarian diet of Frankenstein’s Creature. Her influences include Sebald, Woolf, and Borges. She teaches comparative literature at Skidmore College in Paris, with a focus on modernism, particularly the intersections between literature, film and the visual arts.

Review: It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris by Patricia Engel

By Caitlin Callaghan

engle-itsnotlove_1“He just wanted to live his dream of dying in Paris.” So says one of the new housemates of Leticia “Lita” del Cielo on her first morning as a new tenant in the House of Stars, a run-down mansion on the Left Bank in which well-moneyed—or “green-blooded”—young women board year by year. The man under discussion is an American who flew to Paris for the sole purpose of his suicide, and it is through this conversational topic that both Lita and the reader meet the young women with whom she will live during the next several months.  We are less than twenty pages into Patricia Engel’s first novel, It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, and the American’s death is the second one to bear mention. The first was Princess Diana, who died in that infamous tunnel crash under Paris as Lita was flying from Newark to the City of Light to begin her year abroad. As we soon learn, love and death are both present in the House of Stars.    Read More