Susan Lynch to read at the Richard Hugo House

Susan Lynch (one of our Associate Editors) will be reading at the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, WA on Saturday, April 26th.  She’s reading as part of the Lit.mustest reading series.

The night’s featured reader is Carol Casella.  She is the author of three novels: Oxygen (Simon & Schuster, 2008), Healer (Simon & Schuster, 2010), and Gemini (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

Where: Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, Seattle, Washington 98122

When: 7:00pm to 10:00pm on Saturday, April 26th.

This is an all-ages event open to the public.
There will be a cash bar.
Admission is free.
Parking is available at Hugo House. Street parking is free around Cal Anderson Park after 6pm.

Find this event on Facebook.

Marc Schuster published in “The First Day”

Marc Schuster (Guest Editor of our Spring 2013 issue) was recently published in The First Day.  Checked out his essay, “Is Nothing Sacred?” on their website.

Other recent publications include “Form 28” in The Ampersand Review, and “Madrid” in Apiary Magazine.  He is also the author of The GrieversThe Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party GirlDon DeLillo, Jean Baudrillard, and the Consumer Conundrum, and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.

Printer’s Devil Review releases its latest issue

Printer’s Devil Review has just released a new issue, featuring several poems, a short story about queer life in rural America, and a story by David Varderman that’s accompanied by illustrations from Harriet Burbeck. This issue also features excerpts from Gemma Cooper-Novack’s novel Go Home Faster, Jade Sylvan’s memoir Kissing Oscar Wilde, artwork from Keith Francis, and more.  You can find the issue here:

Fall 2013 contributor, Thomas Dodson, edits and designs Printer’s Devil Review.

Announcing the Guest Editor for Vol. 2, No. 1

We’ve selected Marc Schuster as Guest Editor for Vol. 2, No. 1 of The Conium Review, due out in early 2013.  Marc is the author of two novels: The Grievers (The Permanent Press, 2012) and The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl (The Permanent Press, 2011).  And Marc teaches writing and literature courses at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.

You can submit to our next issue here:

And you can learn more about our new Guest Editor at his website.

Book Review: Inferno

Inferno: A Poet’s Novel
Written by Eileen Myles
O/R Books, 2010
ISBN 978193528034

Inferno Cover 1Eileen Myles’ Inferno is a fictionalized memoir, chronicling the author’s life as a poet.  Rather than simply plotting the high points in her poetic career, the novel’s arc tracks existential developments within Myles’ life and interrelated literary work. She begins with the initial hell of her structured, young life, dampening her creative intuitions.  The novel progresses into a purgatory of uncertainty as she first begins writing and sharing her work.  Finally, heaven appears during blips in her life when she comes out as a lesbian, and her poetry is infused with a sense of purpose and love.  These events unfold without regard to chronological order, and the reader quickly realizes that this particular poet’s life is wrought with constant flux.  Myles’ life includes events ranging from reading tours through Europe, to picking apples in rural upstate New York for beer money, and everything in between.  The prose reflects this fragmentary existentialist journey.  Portions of the novel utilize traditional grammatical conventions, but Myles often abandons proper syntax to generate a particular dramatic impact on the reader.  Stylistically, there is a reason she calls this “a poet’s novel.”  The story has a distinctive arc, but the inventive prose itself is sometimes the star of Myles’ book—especially in the purgatory chapters, as there is less forward momentum to push the story along during this section.

Eileen Myles

Throughout some of the novel, the reader is presented with run-on sentences iconic of modernist stream of consciousness writing.  While this style of writing gives a sense of the busy, multi-faceted way the human mind works, Myles augments her long sentences with fragmented chunks.  These chunks are used sparingly, and have tremendous dramatic effect on the reader.  After reading countless pages awash in lengthy digressions, the sudden advent of short fragments offers weighty pauses at key moments in the book.  Instances of this style are indeed the primary points of interest during the purgatory passages, which make up a huge chunk of the book. Purgatory drags, and part of it reads like pages from a bland encyclopedic entry—the sentences become longer and the action is diminished to a few spikes of interest amid diatribes about the struggles of poetry.  Though, this may be by design, since purgatory is supposed to be a bittersweet zone—neither heaven nor hell, endless in its banality.  The effect is interesting, though it becomes frustrating for the reader at times.
Inferno Cover 2This isn’t to say that most of the story is frustrating, or that well-crafted language and interesting syntax are the only reason to grab this book.  Myles’ Inferno delves into a number of deep issues embedded in the playfully poetic prose.  Even if you’re unfamiliar with Myles’ work, the story resonates on deeper levels than mere autobiography.  She discusses situations and emotions universal to the human experience.  Though her own hellish forays, dragging purgatory, and eventual heaven do not highlight events germane to every single reader, the underlying struggle to adapt, learn, and attain bliss are something we all recognize.

I met Myles at a reading in in late 2011, and she explained that the original manuscript didn’t place hell, purgatory, and heaven in linear succession—partially because she wanted to do something different and unexpected.  She later realized that this progression suited the story better and made for more interesting readership.  While the progression through the Divine Comedy is classic and perhaps “expected,” it’s well-worn for a reason.  In its final, edited format, with the parts moving from agony to bliss, the flow is seamless and the final page a relief.  Without spoiling anything, I’ll just note that the happy ending isn’t trite, and a few notes of wonder and grief help the malcontents among us find equal relief in the concluding pages.  A few passages are tough to push through, but most of this novel is a delight.  It’s well-crafted, and the distinctive voice shifts to complement the mood of each section.  Whether you prefer poetry or fiction, you’ll find something good in Eileen Myles’ Inferno: A Poet’s Novel.

Review by James R. Gapinski
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