Month: May 2019

Attending a Reading: Jamel Brinkley’s “A Lucky Man”

By AM Larks

It is almost 11:45 a.m. on a rare sunny day in Berkeley and instead of being outside, I am sitting in the basement lecture hall of Berkeley City College that smells vaguely of feet. My cell phone doesn’t get reception, so I cannot distract myself from my impatience and anxiety. I am anxious because I want to like this panel of authors, because I deeply respect the moderator, and because I need something to write about, to tie into, my review of Jamel Brinkley’s collection A Lucky Man.

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Book Review: Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist, by Colleen Kearney Rich

By: Felicity Landa

Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist might appear at first glance as a simple collection of flash fiction, but the breadth of emotion that Colleen Kearney Rich has achieved in her stories is something to be admired. Writers often shy from flash as one of the more difficult formats to capture depth, but Rich runs full force into the form. Rich’s language is cut to the bones, but her details are visceral and real. She steers the reader through her characters’ anxieties, while reminding us of our own. The stories in Rich’s collection are fierce in their simplicity, stolen moments of seemingly quiet lives

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A Sensible Man

By  Julia María Schiavone Camacho

Portuguese Macau, China. Fall 1937.

Fairy tales never come true. Patricia would warn her daughter, if she ever had one, not to believe in storybook endings. A girl raised sensibly, not spoiled. Her own daughter. Angélica. Perhaps she would create her own tale, featuring a sensible prince. And some practical advice. Be sure he really is sensible, Angélica. Sensible as well as trustworthy and good, before you give your heart away.

Now she lumbered down the narrow passageway above the main plaza. Her shoulders slumped, her chest ached. For once she might be able to cry.

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The White Card by Claudia Rankine – A Conversational Review

By: AM Larks & AE Santana

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, two plays, numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies. Rankine has won the PEN Open Book Award and the PEN Literary Award, the NAACP Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Award for her book Citizen. Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, in addition to other honors and awards.

The White Card by Claudia Rankine is two-scene play that features one black character, Charlotte Cummings, a Yale MFA graduate and a highly successful contemporary artist; and four white characters: Charles Hamilton Spencer, a “well-respected philanthropist” and “lover of contemporary art,” his wife Virginia Compton Spencer, the Spencers’ son Alex Compton-Spencer, an activist who is “deeply involved in current American politics,” and Eric Schmidt, the Spencers’ trusted art dealer. The Spencers invite Charlotte over to dinner in an attempt to convince her to sell her art to them.

The Coachella Review contributors A.E. Santana and A.M. Larks reviewed this play in an interview style with questions, responses, and replies in order to capture the conversation that theater, and specifically The White Card, is meant to evoke.

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Evolution

by: Leila Bilick

I.

Each April, I walked among crushed tulips
after the last snow
and headstones for fallen soldiers,
my favorite for James Miller, last of the Minutemen,
“I am too old to run,” inscribed in the stone.
I imagined him falling to his knees
delivering himself, negating himself
as the red storm blew in.  

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Then and Now: David L. Ulin, On Writing “The Bed”

Welcome to a brand new feature on TCR’s blog, Then and Now, a series in which writers reveal and dissect the early literary attempts that helped form their current work. This week, David L. Ulin takes a look back at his story, “The Bed.”

 

THE BED
by David L. Ulin

Annie’s grandfather died on a Sunday in summer. My vacation had just begun. At work on Friday, his heart became irregular, and he was gone within forty-eight hours. I watched Annie buckle over the phone, saw her face pale and her red hair fall into disarray. She went home to San Diego that night.

And Monday was my grandfather’s birthday. I met my parents, and together we went to pay our respects.

I should say I’d been thinking about Annie since she left, but that’s not really true. More about her grandfather, and mine. In my grandparent’s apartment, he lay in another room, and we sat on a couch, listening through the wall for his snores.

My grandmother offered drinks and asked about my brother.

“He’s okay,” my father said, not looking up from a large paperback book of color photographs.

My mother smiled from her end of the sofa. “His classes just started.”

“So I heard,” her mother said.

My father coughed and lit a cigarette.

“No one comes to visit anymore,” my grandmother said. In the other room, her husband snored.

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Book Review: What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, by Michele Filgate

By Nathania Seales Oh

 

What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About goes beyond the catchy title and delivers a visceral account of maternal relationships that span from childhood memory to adult reckoning. Michele Filgate curates a touching anthology with authors who are not only authentic but often unforgiving as they examine the role their mothers play or have played in their lives. They dissect the mother-and-child dynamic as it currently exists or as expired, while searching for the truth. Stories range from hysterical to heartbreaking, all the while transcending social, cultural, and economic boundaries. Each essay is both unique and universal in detailing the writers’ desire to be loved and understood, just as they also yearn to understand their mothers. They resolve to see their moms as real people—flawed and beautiful, hated and loved.

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The Promised Land

by: Scotte Burns

Sunshine changes the world under your nose. There’s one kind of smell from pavement right after it rains, and a slightly different one when the sun heats it to a muggy steam afterward. Freshly mowed grass becomes muskier under the sun’s blanket, pine forests sharper in its embrace. On a motorcycle, immersion in the land’s constantly changing hues, from roadside to horizon, is inevitably chased by these shifting aromas, the speed of light being a bit faster than the speed of smell. And so, as we dove and crested blue-line highways through the pillowy hills of Iowa farmland between Council Bluffs and Des Moines, clouds burned away from the face of the sun, encouraging freshly tilled fields, wildflowers, and sheep farms to vie for dominance in color and scent.

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Schrödinger’s Gun

By Greg A. Smith

CAST OF CHARACTERS
Roland – Male, Caucasian, Twenties
Freeman – Male, African-American, 50+
Griggs – Female, African-American, 25-40

SETTING
A small, bare room. Modern day.

Production History:
Staged Reading – Itinerant Theatre, LA; 2017
Staged Reading – City Theatre, FL; 2018

Awards:
City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting – 2018 Finalist

 

A small, bare room. A metal table in the center, a beaten-up briefcase laid flat on it. Two men sit either side – ROLAND (Caucasian) and FREEMAN (African-American). Both wear civilian clothes, FREEMAN open-carries a gun in a holster. ROLAND appears a little nervous, antsy.

A moment’s uneasy silence.

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Book Review: Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

By Lindsay Jamieson

New York Times best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson departs from her beloved YA fiction with Shout, her brilliant new memoir written in verse.

Shout, published in March, 2019, marks the twentieth anniversary of Anderson’s groundbreaking novel, Speak, which told the story of Melinda, a 13-year-old who stops speaking after she’s raped. With Shout, Anderson opens a window into the personal experiences that gave her the insight, empathy, and emotion to conjure Melinda, a protagonist who, as she reveals in Shout, has become a hero (and a moniker) for survivors—men and women—of sexual assault. Anderson, like Melinda, was also raped at 13, and she is an ardent believer that words—spoken, shouted, and written—offer a “bridge to escape” the shame. As the last line of the introduction states: “This is the story of a girl who lost her voice and wrote herself a new one.”

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