Johannes Lichtman's work has been published byAmerican Short Fiction, The Rumpus, and other venues. He teaches in the Graduate Liberal Studies Department at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
While best known for his travel and video-game writing, in his new essay collection, Magic Hours, Tom Bissell focuses on art and the people who make it, whether they be novelists, documentary directors, sitcom magnates, or delusional fantasists with big dreams and little talent.
Linus woes Ginny with talk of his “piece of paradise” back in Kentucky, explaining that “he’d struck it rich as a king in trade and now was going to let the land take care of him.” Ginny tells Linus her dreams of being a teacher, and he responds that “he liked a woman who knew her letters.” Alas, he reveals this to be less than totally accurate when he burns all her books. “We have the Bible for stories, Mrs. Lancaster,” he says once he’s secured her in marriage.
The richness of Bell’s novella lies in its versatility—each individual fiction can be read as a fantastical story or an allegory for parenthood. What do you do when your children must destroy you in order to self-actualize? How do you let go of your children, knowing that losing them is the only way to save them?
The nineteen stories in Matthew Kirkpatrick’s Light Without Heat are disorienting. They employ a series of devices—photographs, diagrams, side-by-side points of view, multiple nameless characters, big blocks of unattributed dialogue, and pleasingly unusual plots—to either defamiliarize the reader by making the familiar strange, or jar the reader, often into laughter, by making the strange familiar.