Announcing Cover Artist Drew Riley and Preorders

We are thrilled to share with you the cover for our upcoming Issue 5 featuring the outstanding painting entitled Adolescence by Austin artist Drew Riley:

Preorders for Issue 5 are now open: http://theaustinreview.org/store/issue5.

Please also support Drew and her amazing artwork by visiting http://www.genderportraits.com. Visit the following page to specifically learn more about Adolescence: http://www.genderportraits.com/adolescence.

Drew is one of the most exciting artists working in Austin, and we are lucky not only to feature her work, but also to have had the chance to interview her in conjunction with the announcement of this cover:


Interview

The Austin Review: When and how did you become interested in painting?

Drew: Art has been a lifelong passion of mine. I remember watching and drawing along with children's art shows by Mark Kistler when I was around five years old. It's stuck with me my whole life. I graduated from the Gemini School of Visual Arts in 2008, where I learned traditional technique. What I learned there really transformed me as an artist because before that I was largely self-taught save a couple good art teachers in high school. By the time I had graduated, I was already working as a concept artist and freelance illustrator, which is what I did for five years until switching over to fine art.

TAR: How would you describe your artistic style or point of view?

Drew: I use my art as a stage to share stories of people with diverse gendered bodies, identities, and presentations. I want viewers of my work to feel like they have met and gotten to know the people that I paint. As a result, I preserve a lot of realism in my portraits and balance that realism with exaggerated color and strokes to convey personality and emotion. If someone walks away from one of my paintings feeling like they met a real person, then I have successfully given my subject's voice and visibility. When the general public sees my work in that way it provides education, but when gender diverse people have that experience it can provide validation and therapy.

TAR: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists, or artists who have influenced you the most?

Drew: My taste in art is very diverse. I seem to always be falling in love with new styles and artists. My deepest and longest lasting artistic loves lie in the classic impressionists like Degas and Sargent. But as I've been working on the Gender Portraits series, I've found myself having a deeper appreciation for artwork that shares the stories of real people. Photo series that mix in the stories of the subjects like Dese'Rae L. Stage's Live Through This series or Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York have been a huge influence for me. Local Austin artist, Beth Consetta Rubel, has also influenced me greatly. Seeing the work of artists like these drives home how powerful something as simple as telling someone else's story can be if it is done in a raw and vulnerable way.

TAR: If you couldn't paint for a living, what would you be doing?

Drew: I would still be an activist. I would still be sharing stories and fighting for social justice for people that don't fit into societies gender norms. There is a lot of suffering out there, and I am in a privileged position to get to be loud for other people who have to maintain silence for fear of their own safety. Not that it is always safe for me, but being white, economically stable, able bodied, and adept at public speaking gives me a lot of advantages. I also have a large support network to protect me and provide me with safety nets. 

Before doing visual art for a living I was an entertainer. I was a costumer, magician, and entertainer. I would probably be using those skills to promote voices if I didn't have painting. Maybe I'd have a gender diverse burlesque troupe or variety show.

TAR: What is it like being an artist in Austin? Has it changed in the last few years?

Drew: Being an artist in Austin can be hard. There are so many artists here, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. The lack of gallery districts, increasing venue prices, and the sheer volume of artists looking for space creates an art scene comprised of mostly independent DIY shows. That makes it difficult for our city to attract art collectors and for artist's prices to be competitive. In a town where studio, apartment, and venue prices are skyrocketing, it gets harder and harder to make a living as an artist in Austin.

On the flip-side, Austin has a wonderfully supportive and interconnected queer scene and trans community. So while the economics surrounding fine art are difficult, I would have had a much harder time creating a project like Gender Portraits in any other city. Plus, making art around marginalized voices means that I often need to create my own shows to celebrate my work because it doesn't always fit into mainstream galleries. The fact that Austin's art scene is mostly comprised of independent shows works very well for me in that respect. I've been able to create my own shows entirely themed around trans, intersex, and gender nonconforming stories and attract crowds by the hundreds. I think that says a lot about Austin and its residents.

TAR: Who are your favorite authors?

Drew: I love the work of Bill Bryson. His writing is captivating and he somehow enchants me with subjects that I would not expect to be interested in. If you ever have a chance to listen to him on audiobook, narrating his own work, do it. I know that may sound like a strange recommendation but his voice is as alluring as his written words are. I would pay to listen to him read a phone book.

Patrick Rothfuss is another of my favorites. I grew up with an obsession for science fiction and fantasy. Escaping into the worlds of Robert Heinlein and Orson Scott Card made my own world more manageable. Rothfuss's The Kingkiller Chronicles gave me the same amount of world immersion and excitement as an adult that I had as a child and teenager, a feat that has grown more difficult with age. I enjoyed having that feeling again. I can't wait for the final installment to come out.


Drew Riley's Bio

Drew Riley is the founder and artist of Gender Portraits, a sponsored nonprofit project of the Austin Creative Alliance. Through vibrant paintings and personal stories, the Gender Portraits series increases visibility and validation to underrepresented trans, intersex, and gender nonconforming people.

Riley graduated with distinction from the Gemini School of Visual arts in 2008 and immediately began a successful career as a concept artist and illustrator. A few years after coming out as a transgender woman, Riley left the commercial art world to create work that advocated for gender diversity. Now, she shows her work and speaks on gender issues in galleries, colleges, festivals, and LGBT community events. Work from the Gender Portraits project has been a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize two years in a row and has received accolades from publications like The Texas Observer, STEAM magazine, Rockstar magazine, and the Advocate. In 2016, Riley expanded her project to host events that showcase other gender diverse artists in order to increase opportunities and encourage creative visibility in the gender diverse community, resulting in the Gender Unbound Art Fest.


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.

Announcing our Issue 5 Authors

We are excited to announce a stellar lineup of eight authors for our soon-to-be-released fifth print issue. We hope you learn more about each, visit their websites, read their previous work, and help us promote literature through their stories.

Michelle Cheever is an MFA Fiction candidate at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington PostThe AdvocatePANK, and Armchair/ Shotgun, among others. She hails from Boston, Massachusetts.

John Dufresne is the author of two short story collections, The Way That Water Enters Stone and Johnny Too Bad, and the novels Louisiana Power & Light, Love Warps the Mind a Little, both New York Times Notable Books of the Year, Deep in the Shade of ParadiseRequiem, Mass.No Regrets, Coyote, and I Don’t Like Where This Is Going. He has written two books on writing fiction, The Lie That Tells a Truth and Is Life Like This? He’s the editor of the anthologies Blue ChristmasEverything is Broken, and Everything Is Broken, Too. His short stories have twice been named Best American Mystery Stories, in 2007 and 2010. He is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow in Fiction.

Maggie Ilersich is a poet from Cleveland, Ohio by way of Washington, D.C. She currently lives in central Texas, where she is a second year in Texas State University's MFA program.

Christin Lee is a writer from Los Angeles. She lives in Detroit and has an MFA from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program and an MA from the University of Glasgow.

Kelly Luce is the author of Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail, which won Foreword Review’s 2013 Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction. After graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in cognitive science, Luce moved to Japan, where she lived and worked for three years. She’s a Contributing Editor for Electric Literature and a 2016-17 fellow at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Her debut novel, Pull Me Under, was published in 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She hails from Illinois and lives in California's Santa Cruz mountains.

Lee Matalone lives in Louisiana. She writes a column on death, loss and mourning at The Rumpus, “R.I.P.” In Fall 2016, she will be attending McNeese State’s MFA program. Her work has recently been published in Joyland, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Vice and Bookslut.

Robin Rozanski’s writing has appeared in A cappella Zoo, Hint Fiction: An Anthology, Thrice Fiction Magazine, Burrow Press Review, and elsewhere. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of Central Florida and is a teaching artist at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. In 2015 she was a recipient of the InterMedia Arts Beyond the Pure Fellowship for Writers. Follow her on Twitter @RobinRozanski.

Jenniey Tallman lives in the Twin Cities. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Nashville Review, Slice Magazine, DIAGRAM, Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, and Gargoyle, among others. Wednesdays, she posts a new erasure/collage and prompt on her website jennieytallman.com. On the other days, she teaches, writes, and edits many things.

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Authors: thank you for entrusting your work with us. Readers: thank you for your support!

What We're Reading

Curious about what the staff at The Austin Review is currently reading? Here is our first list, and we hope you pressure us to keep this up . . . 

Michael Barrett, Editor
I'm reading Madame Bovary. I planned to re-read this classic in preparation for a recent interview with Jill Alexander Essbaum, and I've only heard wonderful things about the new translation by Lydia Davis (for more insight about her translation see here). The timing didn't work out for interview prep, but this time around at least there won't be pop quizzes.


Vincent Scarpa, Managing Editor
I’m always reading fifteen things at once—books for class, books for research, galleys of books I plan to review or interview the writer for—so my list is a bit of a mess. That being said, I’ve recently enjoyed: A Body Undone by Christina Crosby, a memoir about a harrowing accident that left Crosby disabled and which examines things like caregiving and dependency; the terribly moving debut novel from Max Porter, Grief is the Thing With Feathers; My Father, The Pornographer by Chris Offutt; Innoncents and Others by Dana Spiotta, which is out in March and which is stunning; Emma Cline’s terrific debut The Girls, which I suspect will be a smash hit with critics and readers when it comes out this summer; and I’m in the middle of a few novels from the New York Review of Books: The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyn, Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick, and The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford. I also recently returned to two of my favorite novels for the umpteenth time: Pitch Dark by Renata Adler and State of Grace by Joy Williams.


Peter McCrady, Assistant Editor
I just finished reading Hotels of North America by Rick Moody. It was a fun novel told through hotel reviews by the main character. It ends up feeling like a very modern piece where the reader gets to build that character in fragments, piecing together a life through the lens of online reviews. I just started reading Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami. I always enjoy Murakami on some level, and these two novels are no different for me.


Darri Farr, Reader
What I'm reading: Troublemaker by Leah Remini. I know you saw this book at Barnes & Noble and rolled your eyes, but don't judge! Leah Remini's memoir about growing up in the Church of Scientology is whip-smart, charming, and self-aware. What Remini's book manages to do that more studied texts on Scientology do not is to show its practical appeal to vulnerable people—such as a young, working-class woman searching for stability, respect, and upward mobility. "I was [at the Sea Org] to do important work and be sent on vital missions. And more important, to wear heels, stockings, and a uniform with a cap, Navy style," she writes from her teenage perspective. I totally get it, Leah! If you just read A Little Life and feel pummeled by 700 pages of unrelenting pain, the spunk and sense of humor of Troublemaker could be curative.


AJ Olsen, Reader
I'm reading Nic Pizzolatto's debut neo-noir novel, Galveston (Scribner, 2010). Roy Cady evades an attempt on his life by his New Orleans mob boss and flees with Rocky, a rookie prostitute escaping an equally dismal fate, to their native East Texas where Roy confronts his pragmatic morals and a fatal illness with equal measure. Readers might recognize Pizzolatto as writer and creator of HBO's True Detective. Like his screenwriting, Pizzolatto's prose is pruned to the essentials while rendering Louisiana and East Texas into a lucid background for this suspenseful narrative.


Jourden Sanders, Reader
As 2015 had neared a close, I manically delighted in the lit world's collection of "best of 2015" lists, so when the new year began I started working through books on these lists. I've begun to read more nonfiction as of late, so I recently finished a "best of" for nonfiction: Jon Krakauer's Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, which details the lives of several Missoula women and their struggles in finding justice against their attackers. After that harrowing read, I picked up Alexandra Kleeman's debut novel, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, a very strange novel about a woman only known as "A" who eats orange peels, enjoys commercials, dates a man known as "B" and lives with a woman known as "C." And now I've just started reading another nonfiction book, Helen Macdonald's H is for Hawk, which, so far, is as lovely and poignant and informative as I'd been told. Possible candidates for my next read include Lincoln Michel's Upright Beasts, Samantha Hunt's Mr. Splitfoot, and Sally Mann's Hold Still.

Q&A with Jerald Walker

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?
I’m a fiction writer (by point of view and training) masquerading as an essayist, which is to say that the elements of craft I often emphasize are characters, tone, plot, dialogue, and, perhaps above all, story.

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?
Marilynne Robinson, Stuart Dybek, Jane Smiley, Tobias Wolff, Michael Cunningham, Mary Karr, Denis Johnson and Jo Ann Beard.

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?
An architect. I’ve been obsessed with the field since watching the patriarch of the Brady Bunch as a kid.

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?
James A. Michener. And heat.

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.
I’m wearing black gym shorts and a grey t-shirt.

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Jerald Walker is the author of Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption, recipient of the 2011 PEN New England/L.L. Winship Award for Nonfiction. His essays have appeared in numerous publications, including four times in The Best American Essays. He teaches creative writing at Emerson College.

Q&A with Jess Stoner

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

There’s a balancing act between the emotional and the logical—the research and the gutpunch, the hearthurt.

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

On the fiction-side of things, recent-ish books by Scholastique Mukasonga (Our Lady of the Nile), Porochista Khakpour (The Last Illusion), and Laird Hunt (Neverhome) have lingered with me. In the last two years, I’ve really gravitated towards nonfiction. Jill Leovy wrote the best and most important book I’ve read this year: Ghettoside. Other new-to-me nonfiction author-loves include Helen Thorpe (Soldier Girls), Jen Percy (Demon Camp), and Isabel Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other Suns). I’m finally starting to make my way through David Brion Davis’ oeuvre (just finished Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World)—reading him is like going to school (and getting schooled)—I find myself highlighting so much I never knew, wish I had known; it both amazes and shames me. Just the other day, I read a poem by Morgan Parker and immediately bought her collection, Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night. These books, there’s no way to describe them except to say: They’ve sparked a controlled burn inside of me.

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

My (pipe) dream job doesn’t hinge on writing—it’s to serve in the state legislature. If I could have my name on a good bill, that does good work, I’d give up writing (for anyone but myself) in a second.

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

Some of the smartest and most creative, most generous people I have ever known. Malvern and BookPeople and BookWoman. Seeing Leslie & the Lys at Mohawk. A Ranch Hand from Torchy’s with a side of chipotle ranch mixed with Diablo sauce. Traffic. Gold Top Cider. Flightpath and for when I got up at 3am to write before work, Epoch. Allergies. Seeing Peelander Z in the Yellow Tent at Fun Fun Fun and having a hot dog with the band on Red River after. The most righteous advocates for women’s rights and health like Amy Hagstrom Miller, Andrea Grimes, Drew Stanley, and Jessica Luther. Maurice Chammah, from Mother Falcon, whose articles for various publications about the criminal justice system are superb. Scott Blackwood's See How Small and the book I just pre-ordered: Invisible Austin. The readings and get-togethers to get together to talk about books. That time an elderly woman got on the Lamar bus wearing a kitten mask and hissed at everyone who tried to sit next to her. 

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

I would encourage more writers (especially those coming out of MFA programs) to look outside of academia for work. You might think it’s just a different kind of soul-sucking, but it doesn’t have to be. As an employee for the state of Texas, I got to research and write about Merle Haggard—and what I wrote was read on the steps of the state capitol, in front of the Poet of the Common Man. As an education coordinator for a non-profit, I got to celebrate the poems 3rd graders wrote about tacos and fireworks. All while getting to work with really great people (many of whom were writers) and having a steady paycheck, health and dental insurance, and paid days off.

Our Pushcart Prize Nominees

Each year The Pushcart Prize solicits up to six nominations from literary journals around the country, and in fall 2016, winning authors/stories will be published in the organization's book entitled, "Best of the Small Presses." This year (again) we wish we could nominate more than six authors; in 2015, in our third and fourth print issues, we've worked with so many accomplished writers deserving of this prize. Thank you to all our contributors!

For consideration in the 2016 edition of Best of the Small Presses, we have proudly nominated: 

1. "Salt" by Christine Fischer Guy (Issue 3)
2. "Alex Gehry Changed His Status to Single" by Jason Hill (Issue 3) 
3. "for all the dumb pepul like me" by Ray Shea (Issue 3)
4. "A Canal, Panama" by Catherine Carberry (Issue 4) 
5. "Sadie Hawkins Day" by Courtney Preiss (Issue 4)
6. "The Prison Must Know Its Own" by Jess Stoner (Issue 4)

You can enjoy these and the other amazing stories within Issues 3 and 4 by placing an order here. Please congratulate our Pushcart nominees and join us in wishing them luck!

A Teaser of Issue 4

We’re putting the final touches on the fourth issue of The Austin Review, and we are so proud of the stunning work that was sent our way—we feel tremendously lucky to publish it, and we're eager to share it with all of you soon. Until then, here’s a little teaser of the artwork and a sneak peek at each piece in the issue, plus a chance to pre-order.

PRE-ORDERS

Please pre-order your copy today! Click through to the following link and select Issue 4: STORE. The issue's layout is nearly done, and then off it goes to our printer. We'll send your copy as soon as it's ready. 

ARTWORK

Jordan Gentry's beautiful painting "Willow" forms our cover. Jordan is an artist based in Austin who works primarily in portraits. Her time is occupied by working to develop and evolve her personal style, serving at Big Medium, and providing commissions to families and individuals. Each artistic pursuit refines her creativity, knowledge, and technique.

Please visit Jordan's webpage here and support her work. 

SNEAK pEEK

And some of our favorite lines from each story in Issue 4:

"The image of our face is how we know we are human. It’s where we show our humanity. The mug shot obliterates our ability to recognize a person as a person. In a mug shot a person is only a person because of his resemblance to a human being. A mug shot is a wound.”—Jess Stoner, "The Prison Must Know Its Own”

"After a few months of working at the wig store, we began to sneak the wigs home at night.”— Adam Ortman, "The Wig Store"

"I was trapped on the hood of a car, waiting for a chance to make a break for home or for my friend to discover that his German shepherd had gotten free.”—Jerald Walker, "Milo"

"It started off innocently enough: a diagnosis with terms fit for a children’s book. A spot on my father’s lung, they said, as though it would take nothing more than a pencil eraser to scrub him clean. That first mention would be the only one where the doctor could afford to be cavalier."— Courtney Preiss, “Sadie Hawkins Day”

"When the man leading the Mars mission answered questions at a press conference, he said, We will find water. It is there. It was the same tone I used to announce that I loved who I loved.”—Chelsea Hodson, "Stop Bath"

"Marla turns her head to look at the paramedics' limbs flying in all directions over the driver of the little yellow car's body. She sees masks and blood and gloves. Glass sparkles on the road. A thick black dead tire flaps stupidly in the breeze.”—Alexandra Tanner, "West Palm"

"Perhaps it’s wrong to comfort from the notion of elsewhere, some discordance with immediacy, but it’s not the destination I’m concerned with so much as the act of leaving, the place itself being no place at all. Those throating geese offer an aria of the liminal, to which I listen intently, always.”—Jess Williard, "To the Arrowheads of Migrating Geese"

"Late at night, she curates the things she has lost with no hope of recovery. She is trying to preserve them as best she can. But as she catalogs these lost things, they take on weight, and the weight becomes too much to bear, so she must abandon them once more by forgetting.”— Dawna Kemper, "Dogs"

"Crooked blinds advertise a dirty, dirty sex soul, a woman to be avoided, lest her lust rub off on the rest of us.”—Dawn S. Davies, "The Slattern"

"There comes a point when your husband becomes a reminder of the life you left for him. I didn’t know how to love that reminder.”—Catherine Carberry, "A Canal, Panama"

Temporary Closing of Submissions

It’s a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless: we can no longer keep up with the growing number of stories being submitted. In one week (September 21, 2015), we will temporarily close submissions until we can catch up. We plan to re-open submissions this winter and will announce the re-opening date here and on social media.

Thank you in advance for any submissions this coming week! And, to everyone who is waiting to hear from us, we apologize for the delay and assure you that we are working hard to send you a response.

Please visit our Submit page for more information.

Meet Our Issue 4 Authors

The following ten authors make for a stellar lineup in our upcoming Issue 4. It’s been a joy meeting and working with each, and we’re sure you’ll love their work as much as we do. If you don’t already know these writers, learn about them now—you will be hearing more from them all. And to our contributors: thank you so much for your time and allowing us to host your wonderful stories.

Jess Stoner is the author of the novel I Have Blinded Myself Writing This, from Short Flight/Long Drive Books. Her nonfiction longreads and fiction have been featured in The Morning News, The Rumpus, Everyday Genius, The Burnt Orange Report, and other handsome outlets. She lives in Colorado.

Adam Ortman lives in Austin, where he is currently pursuing his MFA at the University of Texas.

Jerald Walker is the author of Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption, recipient of the 2011 PEN New England/L.L. Winship Award for Nonfiction. His essays have appeared in numerous publications, including four times in The Best American Essays. His memoir The World Tomorrow, about being raised in a doomsday cult, will be published next year. He teaches creative writing at Emerson College.

Courtney Preiss is a scrappy Jewish girl from Brooklyn. Her stories and essays have appeared in Hobart, American Short Fiction, Cobalt Review, and Sundog Lit. She is currently at work on a baseball memoir, titled There Will Never Be Another You.

Chelsea Hodson, author of the chapbook Pity the Animal, is an MFA candidate at Bennington College and was a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices fellow. More information about Chelsea can be found at chelseahodson.com.

Alexandra Tanner lives and writes in New York, where she’s an MFA candidate in fiction at The New School. Her stories have appeared in Joyland, Tin House, Ninth Letter, and other such journals, and she’s currently at work on a novel set in rural Florida. She tweets @alexbtanner.

Jess Williard’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The McNeese Review, Nashville Review, Adirondack Review, Cider Press Review, CURA, Oxford Poetry, and others. He is from Wisconsin.

Dawna Kemper’s stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, The Idaho Review, Quarterly West, Santa Monica Review, The Collagist, ZYZZYVA, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others, and her work has twice been listed as “Notable” in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She teaches at Santa Monica College where she also volunteers at the Veterans Resource Center. You can find her online at www.dawnakemper.com.

Dawn S. Davies (www.dawnsdavies.com) splits her time between Florida and South Carolina. She was the 2013 recipient of the Kentucky Women Writers Gabehart Prize for nonfiction and her essay collection, Mothers of Sparta, received the 2015 FIU UGS Provost Award for Best Creative Project. She has been awarded residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and Can Serrat and was a 2015 SLS Disquiet prize finalist for nonfiction. Dawn holds an MFA from Florida International University. Her work can be found in River Styx, Brain, Child, Hippocampus, Cease, Cows, Saw Palm, Ninth Letter, New Plains Review, Fourth Genre, Green Mountains Review, Chautauqua, and elsewhere.

Catherine Carberry holds an MFA in fiction from Bowling Green State University, where she served as Assistant Editor of Mid-American Review. She is a reader for The Paris Review, and her fiction has appeared in journals including North American Review, Indiana Review, Sou'wester, Greensboro Review, Baltimore Review, and Tin House's Open Bar. She lives in Spain, where she is revising a novel and story collection.

RIP James Tate

On July 8, 2015, the world lost a great poet. Pulitzer Prize winner James Tate, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, died at the age of 71. An article regarding Mr. Tate and his passing may be found here. An interview with Mr. Tate, by The Paris Review, may be found here.

We at The Austin Review are honored to have published work of Mr. Tate, and as a small tribute, we've reproduced below one of his poems from our third print issue. We hope you learn more about, and enjoy, the important work Mr. Tate has left behind.

 

MY DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT

 

The doctor looked at me and said, “Have you ever stubbed

your toe?”  “Well, yes, I suppose I have,” I said.  “That could

be the answer right there.  Have you ever hummed in public?”

he said.  “At some point in my life I must have,” I said.  “There,

you see it’s coming together.  Have you ever thought of the

Queen of England naked?” he said.  “No, not once, not in all my

life,” I said.  “There’s definitely something wrong with you.  My

guess is that your manganese is off kilter.  Have you ever bitten

the head off a chipmunk?” he said.  “Maybe once when I was a small

child,” I said.  “Ah ha, it is coming together now.  Have you

ever masturbated to a picture of Doris Day?” he said.  “Are you

crazy?” I said.  “I take that to mean you haven’t.  That’s very

abnormal for a man of your age.  Do you sleep on long train rides?”

he said.  “I never sleep on trains,” I said.  “Remind me to check

on your pituitary gland.  Do you eat watermelon with a knife

and fork,” he said.  “I would never do that.  You’d have to be

insane to do that,” I said.  “Perhaps you are insane.  Do elephants

ever chase you in a dream?” he said.  “Almost every night,” i

said.  “Well, that’s good news, at least.  Have you ever wanted

to throttle a panda?” he said.  “I know no pandas,” I said.

“That’s very unusual.  Has a U.F.O. ever landed in your backyard?”

he said.  “Not to my knowledge,” I said.  “Very interesting.

Do you wish one would?” he said.  “I have no opinion on the

matter,” I said.  “Most peculiar.  Are you tormented by humming-

birds?” he said.  “I quite like hummingbirds,” I said.  “That’s

it.  I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do for you.  You’re a

hopeless case,” he said.  “Thank you, doctor.  You’re very kind.

This has been very helpful to me.  I’ll find my way out,” I said.

He laughed.  Half-way down the corridor I was attacked by a

mongoose.  I tried to shake him, but I couldn’t.  It was the

doctor’s own pet.

 

Q&A with Stephen Parrish

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

I’ll tell you what I aspire to: the reader should be moved by the writing, while at the same time remain unaware of the writer’s presence.

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

Most of the authors I read are dead. Among authors whose lives overlapped my own, I’m a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, especially his early stuff, and William Styron—I think he should be on the reading list of every 20th century literature course.

To escape, I like Ken Follett. For laughs, Patrick F. McManus. And because he’s an irresistibly likeable guy, Neil Gaimon.

The best kept secret in literature (unfortunately) is the large, virtually unknown community of contemporary short story writers. Writers like Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Mary Gaitskill have their followers, but there are many others, aspiring writers with breathtaking talent who aren’t on the industry radar—yet. It’s easy to find these writers, but you have to read literary magazines, and sadly, most of the people reading literary magazines are themselves writers, rummaging for places to submit their work.

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

I’d be a teacher. It’s another route to immortality, albeit an indirect one.

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

Timely question! My older brother lives in Austin, and he happens to be the inspiration for “The Rocker.” He mentored me growing up, particularly in math and science. And, yes, he rocked—in all senses of the word.

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

If you had one piece of advice for beginning writers, what would it be?

Thanks for asking. I once made changes to a manuscript that I suspected were wrong, changes an editor demanded.  Years later, I’m sure they were wrong.  Because my guts tell me so.

There comes a time when you’re no longer tentative about your writing. You’ve mastered the language; you have a voice, a sense of style, an ear that is tuned to the complexities of fiction; you’re in command. The paintbrush in your hand obeys you, not your crit partners, not the publishing industry, not even your writing idols.

You first notice something’s changing when you draft a scene that sticks with you the rest of the day. When you read it again the next day, it doesn’t suck. And this is my point: the only way we know something is good is when it fails to make us blush when we read it again after having placed ourselves at a distance.

Because doubt manifests itself in your gut. Doubt doesn’t let you go. Doubt cannot be silenced by covering your ears and chanting, “Nyah, nyah, nyah.” If you experience doubt about your writing, if you fear it might not be accomplishing what you want it to accomplish, it isn’t. If you suspect it sucks, it does. When your doubt-guts are quiet, when you put some distance between you and your work, and upon returning are delighted by the way it sounds to your ear, you’re done. The paintbrush is doing what you tell it to do.

 


About Stephen Parrish

Stephen Parrish is the author of The Tavernier Stones, The Feasts of Lesser Men, and Anatomy of a Spy. In 2011 he was awarded an Independent Publisher (IPPY) gold medal. His short work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, The Good Men Project, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and elsewhere and has been read in public by Liars’ League, Lit Crawl, and other venues. He presently serves as editor of The Lascaux Review.

The Austin Review Writing Workshop

It was a great day for writing, and we are so happy to have completed our first high school writing workshop. On May 16, advisory board member and former managing editor Tatiana Ryckman led a workshop with students from David Crockett and James Bowie High Schools. In addition to writing and critiquing (and some pizza), the students talked about various publishing formats including chapbooks. The Austin Review will work with our inaugural class to edit and publish their collective work as a chapbook this summer.

Thank you not only to Tatiana, but also to assistant editor Peter McCrady and Austin ISD representative Matt Meldrum for organizing this event. And thank you to the City of Austin's Cultural Arts Division for funding this great program—we look forward to additional collaborations with Austin ISD.

Q&A with Stephanie Devine

1.  If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

 Lyrical. Darkly sentimental. Strange.  

2.  Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

Oh! Alice Munro. I feel the strange need to be defensive here—what a very unhip answer—but reading her stories really helped to open up my writing and I’ll just never grow tired of her voice or perspective. Rebecca Makkai, Lauren Groff, Bret Anthony Johnston, and Laura van den Berg write short stories that will break your heart in the best kind of way. Speaking of, Jennifer Egan. Lydia Davis (not at first, but she grew on me). Kazuo Ishiguro. Maggie Nelson (if you haven’t read Bluets yet, drop everything and do so immediately). And cheesy as it may sound, my classmates in workshop. They’re much better writers than I am, which makes me work harder. Reading their work is a privilege.

 3.  If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

I think about this a lot, both in terms of something more practical I might have started pursuing in my early twenties, and in the various escape fantasies I nurture when I’m feeling angsty about my work or post grad prospects. If I could start again at, say, 19, and had good advice, maybe I would have channeled my attention to detail and knack for memorization into something economically fruitful like web development or pharmacy. Time traveling into these types of jobs—accountant, anesthesiologist—is what I think about when I get rejection letters or check my student loan balance. But if I had to give up writing now…in my mind, I’d open a Bed and Breakfast. A sweet little place in Portland, Maine, where floral bedspreads are banned and I always overcook the eggs. Though it seems unlikely that I would have the start-up capital or the ability to make endless small talk with strangers. More plausible is that I’d fall into some kind of administrative work, where I’d lazily enter data into spreadsheets and daydream all the stories I could no longer tell.

 4.  When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?                       

Heat, Bats, and Music. A friend from college who quit her engineering job at IBM and moved to Austin with her husband, where she began a new life as a yoga instructor. My sister and her beautiful family, who actually live in Houston, but, you know, it’s Texas. And Texas=love.

5.    Answer the question you wish we had asked.

      Beyoncé (the answer to everything)


About Stephanie Devine

Stephanie Devine is the Fiction Editor of New South and a doctoral student at Georgia State University. Her work has recently appeared in Cheap Pop, Atticus Review, Fiction Southeast, Treehouse, and Glassworks Magazine and is forthcoming in Louisiana Literature and Pembroke Magazine.

Q&A with Gabe Durham

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?
 

Simultaneously deadpan and dead serious. The larger work that "An Execution" comes from relies heavily on juxtaposition to call attention to things in our world that I find fascinating, overwhelming, and/or fucked, which to me allows for any number of valid reader responses.

 

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?
 

For this project, both John D'Agata and Patrik Ourednik were hugely important to me. Also the nonfiction of Joy Williams, Nicholson Baker, David Shields, Truman Capote, and David Foster Wallace. Before I began this book, I mostly wrote fiction. It was reading these authors that convinced me to take some time to focus on creative nonfiction. And now that's what my last two book manuscripts have been.

 

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?
 

Ha, well I've never gotten to write as a job, so your question sounds like the real world! But if I had to knock writing off my artistic list: I'd do more improv, play more music, and edit more books by other people. There'd be a huge absence that would creep up on me slowly through the decades, and on my deathbed I'd curse the judge/doctor/witch who'd banned the art I'm best at.

 

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?
 

Alamo Draft House (and Mr. Sinus Theater), all the queso I want, Shiner, Barton Springs, jogging with my sister in high heat, the time I saw The Wrens play SXSW, Keep Austin Weird.

 

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

 

Great question--I do have a lot of tips about blending your own smoothies. 1. No ice, ever! 2. Peel your bananas before freezing them and then use frozen banana in every smoothie. 3. Frozen strawberries are often pretty cheap. Just make sure they're "no sugar added." 4. Carrots add a nice sweetness. 5. You can barely taste the addition of broccoli and spinach so you might as well add them in. 6. Be careful with kale. Add it, but too much makes the whole thing gross. 7. Plain yogurt works great--no sugary stuff. 8. OJ is the best juice base. 9. Chia seeds and flax seeds can sneak right in for a health boost. 10. A few blackberries turn the whole smoothie a deep and satisfying purple.


About Gabe Durham

Gabe Durham is the author of the novel Fun Camp and is the publisher and editor of Boss Fight Books. Previously he edited Dark Sky Magazine and Keyhole Magazine. His writings have appeared in Hobart, Mid-American Review, Quarterly West, Daytrotter, The Rumpus, HTMLGiant, DIAGRAM, The Collagist, Everyday Genius, NOO Journal, Quick Fiction, Nano Fiction, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Web anthology. He lives in Los Angeles.

Q&A with KT Browne

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

At least as far as this story goes—Firebuddies—it's told from a young boy's point of view, Toddy. We get the sense that he's a bit of an odd fellow; he's got this ability to intricately articulate something 'abnormal' that he's been experiencing: Toddy's been hearing a mouse in the wall. The style of the piece is rather quirky because of this; we're taken as readers along the hiccupping path of the narrator's mind, a mind which we sense he has not yet developed the ability to fully control—Toddy is aware of himself being aware of the sound of the mouse, but not that this awareness is problematic, perhaps even delusory, for example. There's a lot of oscillation between sparse and complex prose within the piece. The advantage to this style is that the narrator's voice is able to move fearlessly between the little and large mysteries of an experience without the self-consciousness that often burdens a mature mind; the disadvantage seems to be that we're left split as readers between wanting to believe the narrator, and knowing in our better mind that he's probably off his rocker; that and, of course, a little dizzy.

 

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

I tend to have trouble with this question, mostly due to the fact that I read the work of a lot of dead people. (http://passagesnorth.com/2013/09/writers-on-writing-56-kt-browne/) I'm well aware that I need to be 'part of the conversation' if I intend to contribute my own words to it, so I'm pushing myself. I've been reading a lot of Ali Smith, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Jonathan Evison, Jennifer Boyden, Joshua Harmon. I'm always looking for the authors who seem to nail a balance between idiosyncratic lyricism and narrative that feels aware of itself as being derived from a single perspective at the end of the day. The voices seem broader to me that way, more attractive. In a recent interview, new novelist Catherine Lacey put it perfectly—"Good sentences and plots don’t do it for me if I feel like the writer can’t see beyond his own current cultural situation."

 

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

I've always said that I'd be a taxi driver if I couldn't write, with the plan that I'd spend the short few minutes with each person I chauffeur helping them to realize something new about themselves, or to face something that's been haunting them. I'd like to help people help themselves. And so with this taxi driver dream, if each ride went according to my plan, every person would leave my car a better, wiser human. I had this idea my head for a long time actually, but then went on a lengthy road trip and realized that I hated driving. I can now say confidently that I'd be a teacher. I am a teacher. I'm preparing for the worst.

 

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

I think about how I've never been there before. I think of how I feel a little odd about now having a story in The Austin Review, being a writer who has never even been to the city the journal stands for. What's my current SkyMiles situation? Do I have enough miles saved up to take a little weekend trip down there? Maybe return a bit worldlier, or enlightened by what it feels like to both BE in Austin and have a story in The Austin Review simultaneously. Synchronicity. That'd be great. But I live in Taiwan at the moment, I think about that, and about hypocrisy. Cities. What "makes a city", if "things" even do at all? Things. I think of things, perhaps food-related or the color of the air in Austin in the summer with the dust swirling up and the bottled beer and all of that purplish smell that comes along with it; slow-paced life set to the pace of a pickup, and of how I'm aware that this is a wild misconfiguration of stereotypical, romanticized notions of life DOWN THERE. Passports. People say that you need one to get there sometimes. I'm from New York. Tell me what I know. I think of time. What time is it in Texas, currently? I'm taking NOW.

 

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

Alright, here's the question: Do you think that it's necessary to process an experience—meaning spend time thinking about it—before beginning to write about it? What good is the "just write" mentality when you don't really understand what it is you're writing about? Does understanding your material materialize before your fingers hit the keys, after, or both?

Woah. That's a multi-parter. I don't know. I have no answer to this question, but I wonder about it all the time. For example, let's take last Tuesday. I found myself in a tree house along the eastern coast of Taiwan. It was hauntingly beautiful. Mountains and mist in one direction, ocean in the other, a wobbly bridge to get in through the front door. So I was in this tree house, pacing around in there, telling myself that I should be writing my fingers numb and taking advantage of the remarkable space; but when I sat down, started to type, I got to thinking that I'm crazy for not just being in the space, observing every bit of it—staring at the bed handmade out of bamboo, or meditating, or catching the lizards crawling up through the woodwork. You see my dilemma? So here I've asked myself this question with the hope that a wiser part of me would have an answer. I still don't have an answer. And so, IF THERE'S ANYBODY OUT THERE WHO KNOWS ABOUT TIME AND SPACE WITH REGARDS TO WRITING, PM ME. THANKS, KT.  


About KT Browne

KT Browne’s work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Referential Magazine, Passages North, The Review Review, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA at CalArts, where she served as an Associate Editor for Black Clock Magazine. She was born in New York and currently lives in southern Taiwan, where she’s at work on her second novel. Visit her at ktbrowne.com

Q&A with Ray Shea

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

I'd describe my prose as realist nonfiction from a very scared and confused person. My poetry is also realist nonfiction from a very scared and confused person, but with line breaks. Occasionally I make people cry, which is about the best any writer can hope for.


2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

My go-to authors write heartbreaking essays and memoirs that are not just straightforward narratives. Nick Flynn, Antonia Crane, Chloe Caldwell, Kiese Laymon, Maggie Nelson, Hilton Als, and Geoff Dyer are the writers I am most excited about these days.

I like my fiction in shorts, and the best short story writers going are Peter Orner, Scott McClanahan, Junot Diaz, and Jim Shepard.


3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

Ha! Job, he says. If writing was my job I'd be homeless. My day job has been in software engineering for a long time and I'll probably have to keep it for a little while longer, but if I couldn't pursue writing as an outlet I'd probably take guitar lessons or dig my alto sax out of storage.


4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

Three things: breakfast tacos, Liberty Lunch, and traffic. Sadly, one of these no longer exists and another we have too much of, but breakfast tacos are a constant. Breakfast tacos are forever.


5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

Medium rare, please.


About Ray Shea

Ray Shea’s writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart, Phoebe, Sundog Lit, and elsewhere. He has been a finalist several times, a nominee more than once, but never a winner. A native of Boston and New Orleans, he lives in Austin, where he is at work on a memoir about fatherhood, alcoholism, violence, and memory. He can be found online at rayshea.net.

Q&A with Christine Fischer Guy

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

It's very difficult to review or assess one's own work, but I can tell you that my agent compares my work to Stef Penney's and Wayne Johnston's. My editor calls it Northern Gothic, which suits me just fine.

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

My current literary crush is the British wunderkind Helen Oyeyemi, who published her first novel at 18 and continues to wow critics and her readers. Jennifer Egan's work thrills me. I like Zadie Smith and Ursula K LeGuin at least as much for their essays as for their novels. Michael Crummey, Alice Munro, Miriam Toews, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Alissa York are homegrown literary mentors.

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

When the idea for my novel arrived, I had embarked on doctoral studies. Naturally, I chose the most prudent path and wrote a novel instead. I'd probably end up in academia, though I have fantasies of becoming a theoretic physicist or a fine pastry chef, neither of which would likely suit me at all!

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

I've never been to Texas (though a dear friend is from Houston) but I think of Austin as a university city, a kind of nerdy braniac place. I think I'd like it there. 

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

Red, please.


About Christine Fischer Guy

Christine Fischer Guy’s debut novel, The Umbrella Mender, was published in September 2014. Her short fiction has appeared in journals across Canada and has been nominated for The Writer’s Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. She reviews for The Globe and Mail, contributes to Ryeberg.com, themillions.com, and the LA Review of Books. She is also an award-winning journalist. Visit her at christinefischerguy.com

Q&A with Jason Hill

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

Resisting the temptation to indulge in harsh self-criticism, the kindest I can be is to say my work wants to examine ideas of what can inspire stories and how those stories have to behave in form or structure. The work wants to come at the origins of telling in different ways, especially ones that merge language and artifact, and swerve the discussion. The point of view is somewhere outside the circle and is hopeful, mostly in that it presumes it isn’t alone.

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

I always answer Pynchon to this question. Beyond that, I really dug both Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane and Kyle Minor’s Praying Drunk, as well as Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? I can always read Dennis Johnson or Margaret Atwood, and keep wondering when we’ll get another Donald Antrim novel.

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

If I couldn’t write, I’d probably drink a lot more. Which maybe means I’d own a bar.

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

Now it’s The Austin Review. Before it was SXSW, Austin City Limits, the university, and my friend Kelly.

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

I love music and I wish I had even a little musical talent.


About Jason Hill

Jason Hill studied creative writing in the MFA program at Spalding University. He holds a BA in English from the University of Kentucky and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut. He has lived in Providence, Boston, Jersey City, and Louisville. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Q&A with Zoë Bossiere

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

My only goal when I sit down to write is to accurately express the emotion driving me to finish the piece, and then for this emotion to resonate with the reader after s/he has put the page down. That said, people have told me that my work is candid and pretty to look at. I do my best to write my best.

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

Some of those I admire and who influence me include, in no special order: Annie Dillard, Bernard Cooper, Ander Monson, Edward Hoagland, Lia Purpura, Fenton Johnson, Aurelie Sheehan, Christopher Cokinos, Maggie Nelson, Leslie Jameson, Alison Deming, Elena Passarello, David Sedaris, Kate Bernheimer, and Heather Christle.

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

I have taught preschool age children for six years, and my flash essay in The Austin Review, “Beautiful Stuff” details a moment I experienced in the classroom. If I had to leave the writing life behind, I would certainly continue to work with young children because I love listening to their ideas and perceptions of the world; I covet the child’s ability to hold up a ball of mud or a blade of grass and without a hint of irony declare, “This is beautiful.”

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

I think of that movie “Bernie,” with the old man in the diner explaining the “five states of Texas.” In central Texas is the People’s Republic of Austin populated by “a buncha hairy-legged women and liberal fruitcakes” and I’m kind of into that.

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

Me out dancing.


About Zoë Bossiere

Zoë Bossiere lives in Tucson, Arizona where she recently graduated from the University of Arizona. She is currently working on a collection of essays chronicling her parents’ adventures as Hungarian circus superstars in the 1980s. Other published works and significant life events can be viewed at zoebossiere.tumblr.com.

Q&A with James Tate

We are honored to present a brief Q&A with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Tate who authors three new works in Issue 3. 

1. If you were reviewing your own work, how would you describe its style or point of view?

Like a walk in the woods.

2. Who are some of your favorite contemporary authors?

Dara Wier, John Ashbery, Charles Simic, Charles Wright, and Russell Edson.

3. If you were told you couldn't write anymore, what job would you pursue and why?

Musician. I love music.

4. When you think of Austin, what comes to mind?

Music.

5. Answer the question you wish we had asked.

Two.


About James Tate

James Tate is the author of seventeen books of poetry and several collections of prose, including Eternal Ones of the Dream: Later Selected Poems, The Ghost Soldiers, Return to the City of White Donkeys, Memoir of the Hawk, and The Route as Briefed. A new collection of poems, Dome of the Hidden Temple, is forthcoming. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Tate is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, and he is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.