Jon Raymond

  • Margaret Kilgallen: That’s Where the Beauty Is

    MARGARET KILGALLEN WAS BORN IN 1967, landed in San Francisco in 1989, and passed away of cancer in 2001. In that brief window, she occupied the center of an exploding galaxy of young artists including—but by no means limited to—Alicia McCarthy, Ruby Neri, Rigo 23, Bill Daniel, Johanna Jackson, Chris Johanson, and Kilgallen’s husband and frequent collaborator, Barry McGee. The creator of loping installations featuring rebus-like combinations of carnival fonts, graphical trees, and drawings of surfers and strong women, Kilgallen expanded the stylistic and attitudinal vocabulary of her time and

  • Reading the City

    EVEN A DINKY TOWN like Portland, Oregon, is probably impossible to contain in a single book. With over two million people in the greater metro area, two major rivers converging, volcanoes and mountains rising behind multiethnic suburbs, generations of organic farmers, graphic designers, migrant workers, etc., living side by side, the city has at least a handful of stories to tell. When you consider that only about a million people were living in Paris while Balzac was writing the eighty-nine titles of the Comédie humaine, and only around three million were in London when Dickens died, I’d say

  • Voice-Over

    There are two kinds of people in America. The problem is, we can’t figure out what those are. Maoists and Tea Baggers? PC lovers and Apple devotees? Letterman fans and Leno watchers? While the twoness of our national family is undeniable, the dividing line has proved quite impossible to fix.

    Two new story collections provide yet another opportunity to draw a line in the sand, this time between adjacent, yet rarely overlapping, traditions of American storytelling: on one side, the old blood and earth of regional modernism, that evergreen ancestry winding from Cormac McCarthy back to Ken Kesey,

  • Internal Reocurrence

    Somewhere between 1992’s The English Patient and the new Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje’s 1970 book, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, switched columns on the “also by” page from fiction to poetry. Why the belated change? It’s a small revision, true, but an interesting one, and in some ways a succinct, real-life example of Ondaatje’s major literary preoccupations, namely, the power of memory to complete past experience and the way time’s echoes occasionally shake something unexpected loose.

    Ondaatje’s early books are feral, unclassifiable things—imagistic, fragmentary, composed under the