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TCR Talks with Karen Bender

BY: A.M. Larks

Karen E. Bender is the award-winning author of Refund, A Town of Empty Rooms, and Like Normal People. Her latest work, The New Order, is a collection of highly political short stories that discuss tragedy, isolation, and terror. The New Order dives headfirst into the current cultural milieu by addressing sexual assault, gun violence, the perils of social media, and the life of Jewish Americans.

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Ritual to Ban the Sun

By: Audrey moyce

The moment Rachel woke up she knew she was going to masturbate. She felt the familiar ache in her groin, and the sweat around her neck held the whiff of preemptive shame. The Backstreet Boys in the posters above her bed looked down at her.

She must not. Must not. God was watching, and God-knows-who-else was, too. And every time you touch yourself, it lays another brick on the staircase to hell. She had to stop this before it began.

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Captivity

BYDick Bentley

CAPTIVITY

I was welcomed here.
This room, clear, golden
And dark as a medieval chamber,
Is love on an autumn night.
The fresh perfume of some lotion,
The dark hair and pale and
Hardly visible face,
And the lace of reflected street lamps
Across the ceiling
Scored by window frames
And the folds of curtains.
The perfect unburdening of disappointment
Into tenderness. The perfect response
Of one body answering the other,
And the slow journey
Toward that captivation of our senses,
Into that country
Whose mountains seem alien and overwhelming
Tinted peach at sunset
Vast presences seen and unseen.
And then,
Sweet sleep.

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TCR Talks with Abby Geni

BY: A.e. SANTANA

Abby Geni is the award-winning author of The Lightkeepers and The Last Animal. Her latest novel, The Wildlands, explores the traumatic repercussions of a category five hurricane when it hits Mercy, Oklahoma, and demolishes the home of the McCloud family. Orphaned, the children attempt to go on with their lives but are swept into a world of dangerous, fanatical eco-terrorism that is both frightening and understandable. Through their story, Geni examines the turbulent state of our natural world and plays with the line between saving the planet and destroying ourselves.

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Susan Orlean’s The Library Book

BY: Annette Davis

Susan Orlean, in her latest work, The Library Book, takes an in-depth look at the Los Angeles Central Library’s fascinating history. Orlean creates an almost romantic image. She entices her readers to see all libraries as something more than book repositories but as living, vital members of communities, catering to the needs of all who seek knowledge and a place of refuge.

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Everything

BY: Susannah Chovnick

The sun was bright on the cold day. The snow, a blanket over the tall trees and dead shrubs. I had spent the night, so I’d be happy for a week or so, I thought, as he drove over the icy roads to drop me back at home.

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TCR Talks with Mart Kivastik

BY: KaiA GALLAGHER

For a small country of 1.3 million people, Estonia has a rich and long-standing literary tradition based on centuries of folklore and lyric poems. The country is located on the Baltic Sea to the south of Finland and shares its eastern border with Russia.

At the end of World War II, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union, forcing many of the country’s authors and playwrights into exile. A select few remained in Estonia but found themselves constrained by Soviet censorship.

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Book Review: LaTasha “Tacha B.” Braxton’s “Dark Chains”

BY: A.M. Larks

Dark Chains by LaTasha “Tacha B.” Braxton is a self-published spiritual autobiography of a girl’s journey through abuse to religious conversion. At its high point, Braxton’s story connects the reader to the experience of growing up in an abusive environment. 

We children were suffering the most, having to constantly hear that yelling and bad language influenced by drugs and alcohol through our locked bedroom door. We dealt with the trauma our mother felt from having a gun put to her face by my father. We dealt with the fear after my father threw a big concrete block through their bedroom window, shattering glass everywhere, with the brick barely missing my tiny head as I innocently slept in my mother’s arms. We were succumbing to this dysfunctional curse that would negatively impact too many generations to come.

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Splinter (Excerpt)

BY: KAYLA HAMBEK

CHARACTERS:

REBECCA HELLER (30 years old.  Middle daughter, has anxiety.)

CATHERINE HELLER (50s/60s.  Mother.)

JACK HELLER (32 years old.  Oldest son, deadbeat “entrepreneur” living in Catherine’s basement.)

AUDREY HELLER (27 years old.  Youngest daughter, incredibly reliant on her boyfriend.)

KEITH BECKER (Late 20s-30s.  Audrey’s boyfriend.)

SETTING: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

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Book Review: Adam Nemett’s “We Can Save Us All”

By David M. Olsen

We Can Save Us All is an ambitious debut by a very talented Adam Nemett. The book begins with a chance meeting of our rather nerdy protagonist, David Fuffman, in an odd, drug-enhanced damn-building exercise where he meets the charismatic and wealthy Mathias Blue—in a frigid river, at Princeton. This clever scene is a fun springboard into the witty, satirical, and nihilistic novel that is to follow. The story is set in the near future where all-too-realistic issues of war and climate change combine with a phenomenon called “Chronostrictesis,” where time itself seems to be coming to an end as though through a funnel: human existence as we know it is no longer, as the characters have to stockpile food and supplies for the severe weather and the impending superstorm.

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