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TCR Talks with Lexa Hillyer

By Lindsay Jamieson

Lexa Hillyer is not only the author of the poetry collection, Acquainted with the Cold, and four Harper Collins YA novels: Proof of Forever, Spindle Fire, Winter Glass, and, her most recent, Frozen Beauty, but she’s also the co-founder of Glasstown Entertainment. While pursuing her own writing career, Hillyer and her partner, The New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Oliver, transformed their original publishing collaboration, Paper Lantern Lit and e-book publishing imprint, The Studio, into Glasstown; Hillyer remains at the helm. As their mission statement reads, “Glasstown Entertainment is an all-women, 360-degree media and content company based in New York and Los Angeles, dedicated to powerful, relevant, voice-driven story-telling across multiple platforms including book, film, and television.”

The Coachella Review recently sat down with Hillyer to discuss her fifteen-year career in publishing, the evolution of Glasstown Entertainment, and her latest novel, Frozen Beauty, which was released in March of this year.

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Book Review: Berkeley Noir

By Jenny Hayes

Berkeley Noir collects tales from my California hometown, a place where, the anthology’s editors write, “even outcasts can feel at home.” Editors Jerry Thompson and Owen Hill introduce the collection: “The search through darkness for an authentic, eclectic voice is the most important ingredient in the rich stew that is Berkeley, California.” Akashic Books’ Noir series launched in 2004 and now has well over 100 titles collecting sinister stories from locations around the world. The books are a great way to get a glimpse of unfamiliar cities or to relive places you know well—a perfect escape for this time of sheltering in place.

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Gravity

BY KATE SCHOLL

When I sit up to get out of bed in the morning,
suddenly my breasts feel the weight of gravity
New soft tissue pulled down towards the center of the earth
Suddenly having to deal with the day
and the responsibility of wakefulness and work
And so for just a moment there is such pain.
And yet the world is saying hey, you have those new things, wake up girl
The earth is reminding me of who I am every day, promptly
My own personal planetary wake up call,
pick me up,
pull me down,
embrace me.

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Book Review: Barn 8

BY MATT ELLIS

Deb Olin Unferth

Guggenheim Fellow and three-time Pushcart Prize winner Deb Olin Unferth knows that humans are a mess. Somewhere between visions of the ideal world and taking action, even the best-intentioned among us has the capacity to blow it completely. That’s probably why the clear underdog in her ambitious satirical political drama Barn 8 is a chicken named Bwwaauk.

Like with all great hen heist epics, this one starts with a late-night bus ride from New York to Iowa. Fifteen-year-old Janey Flores flies her mother’s coop to meet a father she didn’t know existed and to punish them both for the paternal omission. “She was going to make this man know her, or at least pay for not knowing her.” Her temporary act of teenage angst becomes permanent when tragedy strikes, stranding her in the Midwest, mourning the life she should have had.

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TCR Talks with Garth Greenwell

By Leah Dieterich

Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You, which won the British Book Award for Debut Book of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for six other awards. His new book, Cleanness, picks up where What Belongs to You left off. We follow the same narrator, a gay American ex-pat teaching high school in Bulgaria, through a variety of anonymous sexual experiences as well as a reckoning with love lost. While the book is at times brutal and explicit, it is also unspeakably tender. Many of the interviews Greenwell has done begin with questions about writing sex, an act which he calls “one of our most charged forms of communication,” so I wanted to break new ground and ask first about his love of language, particularly foreign language.

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Book Review: Optic Nerve

By Jackie DesForges

Several years ago I visited the Picasso Museum in Malaga, Spain. At the time, each gallery was arranged by theme rather than chronology, so that as you made your way through, you weren’t seeing Picasso’s works in the order they were —created—you would see a ceramic he created in the 1930s next to a drawing created at the end of his life next to a painting he made in the 1920s, all seemingly random until you realized that they focused on the same theme or subject. María Gainza’s debut novel Optic Nerve reminded me of this museum from the very first page. The story doesn’t proceed chronologically through the narrator’s life, but rather thematically. Beginning each chapter feels like stepping into a new gallery, perhaps especially because the book deals directly with the history of visual art.

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Aperture

By Christina Rauh Fishburne

Look at her go. See the ghost of sinew in those triceps and biceps as the creamy brown silk slides up to her shoulder in retreat. This gown was always her favorite. The one destined only for significant cocktail parties and evenings of general greatness. Observe her form. The strain of her graceful neck, the fluid rise of her arms like a worshipper of the sun, and the determined fan of her fingers spreading to embrace. The line of her shoulders as she rears back in Olympic elegance bent on a clean kill. Note the placement of her feet, small, dainty, shod in beaded open toe kitten heels of soft sole. She does not stand. She does not pose. She plants.

“Stand over there, by the hedge. I’ll take your photograph.”
“Now take your gloves off.”
“I think you might have blinked. Move to the other side, Love. Away from the sun.”
“Let’s have a smile.”

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Book Review: Rust Belt Femme

By Briana Weeger

The brain often holds onto distinct and unexpected images and memories at the time of traumatic events. These memories may not make sense on their own, and they may seem disconnected from what actually happened.

For Raechel Anne Jolie, in her coming-of-age memoir Rust Belt Femme, the unlikely memory is of lightning bugs. During summertime in a rural working-class Ohio village called Valley View, neighborhood children ran barefoot through unmown front lawns to catch fireflies. It is the fireflies Jolie recalls first when she thinks about her father’s accident.

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The art of waiting for catastrophe; or, why I’m hoping toilet paper remains the icon of the coronavirus days

BY LAURA BERNSTEIN-MACHLAY

Right now, my small family and I are beginning our second week in isolation here in Detroit.

Well, okay. We’re mostly isolated. My husband Steven and I still make the odd grocery store and pharmacy runs for whatever happens to be available on the shelves. To alleviate anyone’s worries, let me assure you that we’re fine for toilet paper. We haven’t hoarded, though, so in a week or two, we might have to scramble. Or, you never know; maybe the buying frenzy will abate by then as we all fold ourselves like origami creatures into the reality of this extraordinary new existence.

Meanwhile, even with my online classes to manage, my panicked students to soothe, the latest coronavirus updates to voraciously consume, I’ve got lots of extra time—useful for organizing crammed-full closets or meditating. Not so swell when I chew my nails and fret about whatever fresh chaos lurks just over the horizon. About the breaking world and rising infection rates and the recession churning through America’s economy; how, if it lasts, my college-student daughter will surely suffer—as she’s already suffering with her own classes relocated online, with being trapped in the same seven rooms with her fussing parents for weeks or maybe months to come, with her friends, even the local ones, utterly untouchable.

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The Book of Moths

BY ARIANNA SEBO

The moths have their own religion
one of colour and flight
fuzzy feelers searching for luminescence
not so different from us humans
following our flights of fancy
allowing our imaginations
to pave the way for our good intentions
not always fulfilled
but we try
with Sunday school children
and church bazaars
Sunday sermons and tapioca pudding
searching for heights
and falling from grace
like the moths
obsessed with the light

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