Review: Dean Kostos’ “This is Not a Skyscraper”

This is Not a Skyscraper, Dean Kostos Red Hen Press, 2015. 978-1-59709-416-0 Dean Kostos’ latest collection, This is Not a Skyscraper, was selected by Mark Doty for Red Hen Press’s prestigious 2013 Benjamin Saltman Award. The cover, featuring a blurred photo of Midtown Manhattan’s Radiator Building, announces this as a New York book, and while… More

Review: David Tomas Martinez’ “Hustle”

Hustle, David Tomas Martinez Sarabande Books, 978-1-936767-77-1 Recently, while speaking with a close friend (who has very good literary taste) about what she was reading, she spoke enthusiastically about Hustle, a first book by David Tomas Martinez. Hustle deploys from the landscape of the low urban canyons of the West Coast: freeways, fences, “half-sanded cars… More

AFI Film Fest 2015

Each November in Los Angeles, the American Film Institute holds its free annual AFI Fest featuring a wide array of cinema from all over the world, with many entries having special screenings and premier galas. This year, associate editor Michael McDermit attended several choice screenings and craft talks at AFI, his reviews of these can… More

Charles Baxter’s “There’s Something I Want You to Do”

There’s Something I Want You to Do, Charles Baxter Pantheon Books, 2015. 978-1-101-87001-3 HEED THE REQUEST Although familiar characters pop in and out of Charles Baxter’s created world, the stories in his newest collection are foremost linked by thematics—each poses the same question of the protagonists, and in doing so requests the reader participate as… More

Claudia Emerson’s “Impossible Bottle”

Impossible Bottle, Claudia Emerson LSU Press, 2015. 978-0-807-16083-1 WORLD AS BEGINNING In the summer of 2014, Claudia Emerson was on faculty at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. I attended that year, having just received my MFA, ecstatic and honored that I would be taking part in her poetry workshop. Our group met twice weekly, and if… More

Martha Serpas’ “The Diener”

The Diener, Martha Serpas LSU Press, 2015, 978-0-0871-5922-4, $17.95 I was camping at Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas when I read Martha Serpas’ new collection, The Diener. One day, while hiking beneath the sandstone walls at Willow Springs, I noticed through a thicket of desert willow and rabbitbrush a petroglyph staring back from… More