Book Review: Paul Kalanithi’s “When Breath Becomes Air”

By Joelyn Suarez

whenbreathbecomesairHope is not the typical remedy that doctors prescribe for medical illnesses, yet it is exactly what neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi turns to when he is confronted with stage IV lung cancer. But what good is hope when all other scientific evidence points to an imminent end? Kalanithi’s memoir When Breath Becomes Air is about learning how to face death head on, while examining what it means to be alive. His definition of hope is not one that is unrealistic, or based on some miraculous intervention, but the very real possibility of leading a fulfilled life despite the amount of time one has left.

Book Review: Zoe Zolbrod’s “The Telling”

By J.Z. Manley
the telling

“I am a girl, a female, always in danger of assault,” writes Zoe Zolbrod, quoting Sylvia Plath in her memoir, The Telling, a raw examination of the author’s emotional ambiguity in the aftermath of her sexual abuse. Zoe is four when her cousin, Toshi, first enters her room in the middle of the night and presses his fingers against her crotch. The abuse continues over the next year, but Zoe doesn’t tell anyone until she’s twelve, and even then, she’s not sure whether she’s been traumatized by it or not, whether she’s a victim or not. She uses the word molested, “Because it’s a big deal, right? The happening of it? The naming it? Or is it not?” Can trauma affect her life without completely defining it? Is she strange for thinking this way?

When You’re Somewhere in the Middle: A Review of Jim Gavin’s “Middle Men”


Nobody dreams about selling toilets when they grow up. It’s something that happens because something else didn’t happen—at least that’s what the young characters in Jim Gavin’s Middle Men might believe. Most of Gavin’s male protagonists are trying to do something, whether the goal is to get a basketball scholarship, find the girl that left, or just get a laugh or two at open mic night. Gavin’s characters are destined to come up short.

Shipley Says


Some of the best advice I’ve gotten lately about revising for publication came from a poet.

This outstanding advice, knowledge, and wisdom was bestowed like gift to me by Vivian Shipley during her lecture at the 3rd Annual Writer’s Weekend at The Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT. Shipley, a professor at Southern Connecticut State University, holds a PhD from Vanderbilt, has won many poetry prizes and literary awards including the Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Prize, the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from the University of Southern California, and the Marble Faun Poetry Prize from the William Faulkner Society. Her most recent book of poetry is called All of Your Messages Have Been Erased. She is an editor, a scholar, and a giver of insight.

I will try my best to share, with all deference to Ms. Shipley, and Mark Twain himself, a distillation of some of the finer points of the hows and whys of editing and refining your work for publication. Something I will call:  Shipley Says: A craft workshop in five stanzas.

Method Acting in Sagaponack


I was 27 or 28, working on my first novel. When the Matthiessens offered me their house in Sagaponack in exchange for watching their cats for a month, I leapt at the chance. I knew Peter’s wife, Maria, a beautiful Judi Dench lookalike, but I had never met Peter when I arrived there. I knew who he was, of course, but hadn’t ever read his work. We met only briefly before they went off to the airport and I was alone with the cats.

I was hoping for solitude and space. But I was also hoping that I could crack the writing code. Was it possible that the same surroundings that he found so conducive to genius would work their magic on me? Perhaps this was the month I would make a breakthrough in my interminable novel. I read all of Peter’s work while in his house, as though method acting, sitting among his things, looking at his photographs, eating in his kitchen, walking in his (well, Maria’s) garden.

The Clothes Behind the Books: How to Dress Like a Writer


Elle Magazine knows what writers like: Long-sleeved silk blouses and exotic-skin totes.

That’s what we’ve learned from the latest issue of the fashion mag, which includes an editorial spread on how to dress like a novelist. This ideal writing ensemble, pictured below, adds up to $7,057, not including the price-upon-request Lacoste cotton pants.

Take Five with the Children of Tendu

By Leigh Raper

Children of Tendu is a new podcast ostensibly for people interested in writing for TV. But hosts Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Jose Molina offer up solid advice for anyone interested in collaborative creation or building a career around writing.

Grillo-Marxuach and Molina have decades of combined experience writing for television. Their résumés include many of the shows that keep you up at night or tempt you to call in sick and queue up for a panel at Comic-Con: Lost, Sleepy Hollow, The Middleman, Firefly, and Helix.  At different points in their careers they have held most, if not all, of the different staff writing jobs, from entry-level writer to executive producer and show creator.

On Children of Tendu, they share their combined wisdom with honesty and humor. They break down the business into nuts and bolts segments on topics such as finding an agent and how be a good writers’ room citizen. They even have an episode that decodes all of those producer credits and job titles. Here, they talk a little about mentorship, Game of Thrones, and having a plan B (or not.)

On Our Radar: Hum, Stories by Michelle Richmond

by Heather Scott Partington

Hum, Stories by Michelle Richmond
Fiction Collective Two in association with The University of Alabama Press
Trade paper, 168 pages

Michelle Richmond’s Hum is a collection of stories about men and women who are wanting. Like the constant buzz that emanates from the locked second bedroom of the couple in the title story, each Richmond character feels desire in a constant vibration; a sharp undercurrent to his or her actions. They get what they want for moments only, then ache for things they don’t have, striving not to acknowledge their own yearning. Richmond’s stories are humorous yet sad, toeing the line short stories often do, the one between odd and revealing.

Scripting an Off-Beat Love

by Amy Boutell
Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

After a whirlwind ten days watching several films a day, attending panels with Oscar-nominees, and developing infatuations during celebrity tributes—I confess a two-hour interview with Robert Redford nearly sent me to the blue velvet fainting couch in the lobby of the Arlington—I forced myself to get dressed up one more time, to put on the black 1930s evening jacket my great-grandmother had worn to the Chicago World’s Fair. Admittedly, I was fashioning myself less for Ethan Hawke than for Julie Delpy, the luminous, brilliant, French feminist goddess my friends and I have been admiring since the 1990s.

Welcome to The Coachella Review Blog

We aim to stay in touch with readers of The Coachella Review each month through an exciting array of features on TCR’s Blog. With so many provocative and inviting events taking place every week in publishing, filmmaking, theater, and art, our contributing editors and writers look forward to many discussions and celebrations continuing here. TCR’s editors have been talking about films and screenwriting a lot lately with both the Academy Awards presentations and SXSW on the horizon. To kick off our blog and make a glamorous jump into the fray, we enlisted contributing writer Amy Boutell to share with us…