• Andrew Durbin
    October 17, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Andrew Durbin

    Over the past few years, I’ve heard Andrew Durbin read a handful of times from material that would comprise his debut novel, MacArthur Park. Blushing, he’d rush through the reading, his anxious timbre at odds with the confidently intelligent voice of his prose. Named for Donna Summer’s 1978 hit song, the novel is a series of snapshots, a scrapbook of scenes following a voyeuristic narrator, Nick (who, like Durbin, is a writer—a poet, obsessed with death, distracted by sex—and a lover of contemporary art) as he travels to dance clubs in Brooklyn, an artists’ residency upstate, the Tom of Finland

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  • September 13, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Lucy Ives

    Lucy Ives was supposed to be writing her dissertation when Stella Krakus, the main character in Ives’s debut novel, Impossible Views of the World, came into her mind. It would take six years for Stella to fully emerge, but when she did, she brought an unlikely triumvirate of irrepressible qualities: a nerd’s expertise in maps and early Americana, a kooky and misanthropic sense of self, and a gimlet eye for the art world in which she seems surprised to have found herself. Stella is a curator at the fictional Central Museum of Art in Manhattan, and when one of her colleagues disappears, she

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  • Albert Mobilio
    August 28, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Albert Mobilio

    From the story of a race with no finish line to the story of a hunt for a used slipper, the mischievous, ludic distortions of Albert Mobilio’s Games & Stunts are like images in a funhouse mirror reflecting both gaming culture and culture at large. “This is the way of the world,” squawks one narrator, parroting a shopworn mantra whose Trumpian tang tastes extra bitter these days, “all against all, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” But Mobilio’s sardonic literary gloss on competition defies Manichean simplicities. You can’t easily win a race when there’s no finish line.


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  • Rachel Khong
    August 09, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Rachel Khong

    Rachel Khong’s debut novel, Goodbye, Vitamin, begins after the narrator, Ruth, has been suddenly and inexplicably dumped by her fiancé. Alone and adrift in San Francisco, a city that she has little connection to outside the failed relationship, she decides to cut her losses and move home to help her family cope with her father’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The landscape and history of Southern California drives the diary-like narrative of Ruth’s return to the Inland Empire. Jarred by the unexpected breakup and her father’s increasingly erratic behavior, Ruth spends much of her time wryly

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  • July 19, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Quinn Latimer

    In the pages of her recent chimeric collection, Like A Woman, poet and critic Quinn Latimer offers essays, poems, lists, and missives penned since 2010. The result is a critical memoir interleaved with texts on a pantheon of women artists and writers including Etel Adnan, Chantal Akerman, Hannah Arendt, Ingeborg Bachmann, Marguerite Duras, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Susan Sontag, Virginia Woolf, and the writer’s mother, Blake Latimer. Together, these contributions reflect on (and demonstrate) critical lineage and influence, just as they consider the boons and failings of feminisms. Along the way,

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  • June 06, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Sunaura Taylor

    A few years ago, while Sunaura Taylor was researching her new book, Beasts of Burden: Animal and Disability Liberation, she came across the story of a fox who was born with the same disability that Taylor has—arthrogryposis, a contracture of the joints. A hunter saw the fox and shot it, in what he called a “mercy killing.” But by all indications, the fox was healthy and surviving well. “The concept of a mercy killing carries within it two of the most prominent responses to disability: destruction and pity,” Taylor writes.

    The anecdote tidily encapsulates Taylor’s domain: the overlap between

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  • Durga Chew-Bose. Photo by Carrie Cheek.
    April 13, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Durga Chew-Bose

    “Should I try to change my pitch?” Durga wonders, in consideration of her natural speaking voice, in an essay called “Upspeak.” “Should I try to sound more staid?” She asks her father how she could learn to speak differently. Easy, he replies: “Stop reacting to everything.” But then there would be no book for an essay called “Upspeak” to be in, and happily there is a book, Too Much and Not the Mood, a first collection of fourteen prose pieces in which Durga reacts to, and is acted upon by, the whole of quotidian life, sussing out the unobvious in sentences often as pixely and coruscating, as

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  • March 23, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Melissa Febos

    In the early essays of Melissa Febos's Abandon Me, we watch her build a relationship with a bedazzling lover as she mines her past for the stories that made her the person she is—from an exploration of hickeys to a taxonomy of the gifts she receives from her lover, which are "beautiful and a little gruesome." The essays build into an interrogation of relationships, idolization, and how the author's past intertwines with cultural history. Though the book explores bonds that Febos has with others—lovers, friends, lost and found family members—the relationship it ultimately depicts is the one that

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  • Kelly Luce. Photo: Tony Rinaldo
    March 03, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Kelly Luce

    “No one is about to do anything crazy, except me.” We might want to worry if it’s a murderer who says this. Thankfully, it’s only Rio Silvestri, the high-functioning narrator of Kelly Luce’s novel Pull Me Under (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016). Rio is a nurse, jogger, wife, and mother of a twelve-year-old. She seems to have her shit together. But when she receives a letter from Japan, her life starts to come apart. Because Rio isn’t her real name. And we might have something to worry about.

    She’s actually Chizuru Akitani, daughter of Japan’s Living National Treasure, the violinist Hiro Akitani.

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  • February 08, 2017

    Bookforum talks with John Darnielle

    John Darnielle is a master of sympathetically depicting his characters, both in his music (he's the front man of the indie-folk band the Mountain Goats) and his novels. In both mediums, Darnielle renders his subjects—whether they are weirdos, sinners or some combination of the two—with tender empathy. His new novel, Universal Harvester, details the lives of Jeremy, a video-store clerk, and Stephanie, the schoolteacher he has a crush on. When they stumble on a number of mysteriously edited tapes that contain disturbing footage, they're pushed to explore the hidden, sinister side of their small

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  • Judith E. Stein
    January 03, 2017

    Bookforum talks with Judith E. Stein

    Judith E. Stein's book Eye of the Sixties: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art examines the life of the art dealer who founded the fabled Green Gallery and was an early champion of artists including Mark di Suvero, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, and Donald Judd. Stein's investigation—built on interviews with Bellamy's friends, family, colleagues, and lovers—spans from Bellamy's Cincinnati childhood as the son of an American father and a Chinese mother, to his time in Provincetown with members of the beat generation, to his later interactions with collectors (and Green

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  • September 29, 2016

    Bookforum talks with Alexandra Kleeman

    Alexandra Kleeman’s fiction may share affinities with the luminaries of our postmodern canon—Don DeLillo, Robert Coover, and Ben Marcus—but her sensibility equally recalls the films of David Lynch. With an eye toward the macabre within the mundane, Kleeman’s fiction tantalizes and spooks, thrusting the reader into bizarre worlds of dream logic. Each of the twelve stories in her new collection Intimations are enigmatic fables bound by a sense of emotional urgency: In the opening story “Fairy Tale,” a woman finds herself at a dinner table with her parents, where they are joined by a group of

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