EXCERPT: Veronica G. Henry’s debut novel, Bacchanal

The Coachella Review is honored to present an excerpt from Veronica G. Henry’s debut novel, Bacchanal. This novel is a fantasy and historical fiction set in the Depression-era South. Centered on Eliza Meeks, a young Black woman with the power to communicate with animals, the novel takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance as Eliza joins a traveling carnival with a sinister secret. Unbeknownst to Eliza, she is being searched for by an evil spirit, Ahiku, whose goal is to destroy Eliza before she can come into her true power. With a cast of diverse characters, Henry frames…

Voice to Books: Sharing Personal Experience Through Poetry

Poetry speaks to our souls. From songs to spoken word, sonnets to free verse, there’s poetry for any mood or moment. Poetry is a form that can take on many shapes, tackle any subject, and help people express themselves. All of the collections in this column revolve around poets sharing deeply personal experiences. The poems found in these collections move within cities and dreams, time and space, language and culture to release a truth, an emotion, a thought in the hope that others will connect with them. Finna by Nate Marshall Reviewed by Pamela Pete Full of ethnic slang slung…

Food for Thought: Hard to Swallow—Apple Pies

Linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson wrote Metaphors We Live By, in which metaphors are argued to be an unconscious cultural construct. They introduce their book through the idea that argument is war and then give a list of phrases that English speakers say  exemplify it: “Your claims are indefensible.” “He attacked every weak point in my argument.” “His criticisms were right on target.” “I demolished his argument.” They then ask the reader to consider a culture where argument is perceived as a dance as opposed to a war. What do we suppose about such a culture? The arguers…

Interview: Bill Ratner’s Evolution into Poetry

Bill Ratner’s successful career as a voiceover artist—as Flint on the cartoon G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, as characters on Robot Chicken and Family Guy, and as the narrator of countless movie trailers and commercials—coexists with his varied existence as a performer, author, and storyteller. A graduate of the UCRPD MFA program in nonfiction and a published poet, essayist, and fiction writer, Ratner is a nine-time winner of The Moth StorySLAM and has performed for National Public Radio (NPR), Comedy Central Stage, and storytelling festivals around the country. Ratner’s first book of poetry, To Decorate a Casket, is out this May from Finishing Line…

Book Review: In That Endlessness, Our End by Gemma Files

  By Brian Asman With her latest collection of horror fiction, In That Endlessness, Our End, Canadian writer Gemma Files delivers a panphobic meditation on what it means to be alone and, even worse, aware in an inscrutable universe. Less paranoid than honest, these fifteen tales faithfully depict an all-too-recognizable world in which literally nothing can be trusted. Threats come swiftly, silently, from the strangest of places—a house on a neighboring street, a viral video, a therapy session, even a transcript of an interview with a retired dentist, of all things. Files has a knack for finding something to fear…

This Is Dynamite, and I’m Not Tapping Out: Pandemic TV Guide

By Jill Kolongowski Our baby is three months old, the pandemic is five months old. I’m watching shameful amounts of TV. TV while the baby nurses for an hour. TV while I try to sleep. TV at 3:00 a.m. when I’m feeding her. In the middle of the night, I watch entire seasons of shows—Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sex Education, Community, Arrested Development, Derry Girls—and snack on dry breakfast cereal scattered around the baby’s head on the nursing pillow. I wake with the baby every two hours and am sometimes so tired during the day when I’m awake I feel…

Voice to Books: Memoirs on Overcoming Struggles and Trauma

In this episode of Voice to Books, our readers review memoirs written by people from a variety of backgrounds. Everyone has a story to tell, and firsthand accounts of struggles are powerful instruments of change and understanding. Reading underrepresented voices, especially in memoir, helps to cultivate compassion and awareness for cultures and experiences that are not our own. Consent: A Memoir by Vanessa Springora (translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer) Reviewed by A.E. Santana Writing can be transformative and healing. It can thread together themes in the lives of authors or make sense of a situation they’ve lived. For…

Interview: A Conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen

By Ioannis Argiris I had the privilege of connecting with Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author Viet Thanh Nguyen to discuss his new literary spy thriller The Committed. In this sequel to The Sympathizer, the unnamed narrator travels to Paris, where he lives with his new handler—his aunt. Once a dedicated communist spy in America, the narrator is introduced to a new world of politicians and the French socialist elite. He integrates into a local mob, selling hashish and getting caught up in the Parisian underbelly’s free market. The narrator continues to struggle with identity as he endures tests from his…

Book Review: ­­World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

By Jessica Bremmer When considering World of Wonders, poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s collection of essays about the wonders, great and small, of the natural world, perhaps it is best to begin at the end. The book’s final essay, “Firefly (Redux),” contemplates the Photinus pyralis: “Its luminescence could very well be the spark that reminds us to make a most necessary turn—a shift and a swing and a switch—toward cherishing this magnificent and wondrous planet. Boom. Boom. You might think of a heartbeat—your own. A child’s. Someone else’s. Or some thing’s heart. And in that slowdown, you might think it’s a kind…

Stream this Sunday: How to Watch Tenet by Joe Sullivan

Welcome to Stream this Sunday, a column built to talk about what is easily available to stream. We’ve all seen the social media posts—“Need something to binge.” Especially during the pandemic, it seems, even with the plethora of choice, we still just don’t know what to watch. Since there is no longer your handy, weekly TV Guide, we hope this column will help you make an informed decision on your streaming habit. You might be thinking, But there are multitudes of platforms used to stream films; how will you narrow it down? The answer is we probably won’t. We will…