Category: Nonfiction (Page 1 of 7)

Genocide Must Be Covered Before Dinner

BY: Sarah Broussard Weaver

The college professor is calm as he describes genocide. He’s just giving his planned lecture, the one scheduled on the syllabus and outlined in his notes. The students continue doodling or staring into space, only looking up when the professor mentions a detail that’s unexpectedly gruesome.

That is not how I react.

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Book Review: Nicole Chung’s “All You Can Ever Know”

BY: A.M. Larks

It is our origin stories that shape us. How we came to be in this world matters almost as much as what we do in it. There is a natural and innate curiosity to know the facts that happened before our consciousness, that ties us to our personal histories, to our culture, and to a larger family history. “Family lore given to us as children has such a hold over us, such staying power. It can form the bedrock of another kind of faith, one to rival any religion, informing our beliefs about ourselves, and our families, and our place in the world,” Nicole Chung writes in All You Can Ever Know. These stories are often simplified down to almost anecdotal summation, like my spouse who blames his perpetual tardiness on being late for his own due date. He came out a month late but only by inducement. He was late in the beginning and therefore will always be late.

For adoptees like Nicole Chung, her own narrative revolves around a common ideology of adoption–specifically transcultural adoption–that her birth parents were noble and self-sacrificing. “They thought adoption was the best thing for you.” This simplified narrative of her existence also serves to uncomplicate the stories we tell about adoption; namely, that it is always good and will lead to a better life. “Above all it was a legend formed and told and told again because my parents wanted me to believe that my birth family had loved me from the start; that my parents, in turn, were meant to adopt me, and that the story unfolded as it should have.”

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TCR Talks with Ruth Nolan

BY: Nathania Seales Oh

In a time when the power of a woman’s voice rings louder and clearer than ever, Ruth Nolan is putting her money where her mouth is. From the beautiful ecopoetry in her latest project, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, where she acted as coeditor and contributor, to her deeply personal poetry collection Ruby Mountain, Nolan is, in a word, an activist. She is a profound advocate for the respect and conservation of the California desert, a landscape she has always called home. She speaks not only to its beauty but also to its transformative power. Nolan tells of our relationship, history, and encroachment upon lands where wildfires have burned for centuries. Yes, it’s true. Wildfires are not a new thing. Our living in the places where they unfold, is. She also reminds her readers, students, and fan base of the importance of speaking your truth. As we witness this watershed moment in time, The Coachella Review is honored to spend time in conversation with the passionate and incomparable Ruth Nolan.

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Book Review: Kim Brooks’s “Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear”

By: Felicity Landa

Kim Brooks’s book, Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear, begins with a flurry of emotions that I suspect will be as familiar to other parents as it was to me. In a rush of stress and worry mixed with the impulse to placate her child in a tense situation, Brooks made a split-second decision to leave her four-year-old son in the car while she ran into the store. She was gone for five minutes. She could see the car from the front store windows. And while her son was perfectly fine when she returned, this seemingly trivial decision led to one of the most monumental consequences of Brooks’s parenting years. Someone had filmed her, and sent the video to the police.

Small Animals weaves between memoir and research, as Brooks uncovers the social construct that catalyzed those fateful five minutes and their consequences. Parenthood has been caged and put on display, forever under the scrutiny of spectators who are not involved. Her dissection presents us with a book that expertly defines the one emotion devouring twenty-first-century parenting: Fear. And a society that perpetuates this fear is captivated by violence and failure, prone to judgment, and acts under the guise of protecting the innocent small animals its culture creates.

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Letter to My Scottish Grandmother

By Priscilla Long

I remember fusty objects, old-fashioned over-politeness, over-furnished rooms. Antimacassars—those lace doilies fixed on the armrests and headrests of upholstered chairs. Paisley-patterned rugs, floral wallpaper, framed scenes of cows, a framed embroidered locomotive. The grandfather clock. You kept parakeets in birdcages. I keep a framed drawing that once hung in your little house, the head of a girl. Who was she? What did she mean to you? I have no idea. There’s no one left who could possibly know.

I remember your Scottish accent, the way you said bean for been. How have you bean?

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Book Review: “Writers Resist: The Anthology 2018”

BY: J. Markowitz

Writers Resist: The Anthology 2018 (Running Wild Press) edited by Kit-Bacon Gressitt and Sara Marchant is a compilation of fiction, poetry, and essays originally published on WritersResist.org, an online literary journal established in the aftermath of Trump’s election. The Resistance is a decentralized activist movement against the powers that led to Trump’s election; the Anthology is a response to the question of the role of the writer in that movement. The book is activism in writing; its pages, a space for debate, confronting oppressive paradigms, and expressing solidarity.

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TCR Talks with Mag Gabbert

BY: J. Markowitz

The physicality of Mag Gabbert’s poetry and essays is dreamily overwhelming. We enter a twilight through the medium of a body—her body—which her craft makes so palpable that it could be our own. Via the sensations of her vulnerabilities, Gabbert delivers us to the liminal spaces between pleasure and shame, power and exploitation, existence and the body. She takes us to the edge of her mortality, because it is there that we are most aware of our own aliveness.

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Book Review: Leah Dieterich’s “Vanishing Twins”

BY: A.M. Larks

I have begun this review eight times now. I know the topics I want to cover, the words I want to say, but the disjointed and interrelated concepts resist a cohesive narrative. The cause, I suspect, is not my lack of writing skills but the high quality of Leah Dieterich’s in her memoir, Vanishing Twins.

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TCR Talks with Kristi Coulter

BY CHARLI ENGELHORN

Alcohol is the drug of choice for many people, and the war on drugs tends to kindly turn a blind eye to the copious amounts of alcohol consumed daily and advertisements that glorify social drinking. Yet, millions of Americans are living with alcoholism, and thousands die alcohol-related deaths each year. In her debut collection of essays, Nothing Good Can Come from This, writer Kristi Coulter tackles the prevalence of alcohol in society and the motivations behind the desire to overconsume. Through her personal narrative of drinking and sobriety, Coulter examines the reasons why women drink, the effects of drinking on her life, and the long road to self-discovery and strength as a sober person.

The author spoke with contributing writer Charli Engelhorn about the inception of this book and the value of discussing the role alcohol plays in our lives.

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Age of Loneliness

BY: AUDRA LORD

This is an age of loneliness. This is what I’m thinking on the bus during my morning commute. I’m surrounded by a seawall of slack, blank faces, the impassive slate of cliffs. Nobody says a word; they just gaze into the cups of their palms, thirsty for plastic wisdom and blinky emoticons, which have mostly replaced emotions. Even liking something nowadays is a deliberate act.

Everyone is lost in the magic of tiny screens, wrapped in private thought bubbles, protected from the silence by noise-canceling earbuds, selecting the clatter of podcasts or the hum of iTunes over the warm body in the next seat. Their faces are still, but their fingers are industrious: it’s a factory of people engaged in the same repetitive swipes, clicks and taps, over and over and over again.

Aside from the tapping, nobody makes a sound.

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