Brandon Stanwyck studied film, literature, and theatre at Cleveland State University. While there, he led a student-run theatre company. He currently lives in Ohio, where he divides his time between working on independent movies and writing fiction. His words have appeared in The Fiction Pool, Corvus Review, and elsewhere. Twitter: @BrandonStanwyck.
AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 306 pages reviewed by Brandon Stanwyck
Do Roy and Celestial have an ordinary American marriage? The title of Tayari Jones’ fourth novel implies that perhaps they do in fact have a quintessential American life, and in many ways they do… Roy and Celestial are newlyweds. He grew up in Louisiana, to a blue-collar family. He worked hard, studied harder, earned his way into Morehouse College in Georgia, and went on to become a business executive. She, a talented visionary born and raised in the Peach State, grew up in a comfortable family. She excelled at a neighboring liberal arts college for women and now makes her income as a successful artisan. Together, they exemplify the Dream--thriving and very much in love. Early on, Jones paints a picture for the reader, through Roy: ...we kissed like teenagers, making out under the bridge. It was a wonderful feeling to be grown and yet young. To be married but not settled. To be tied down yet free. About a year after their wedding day, the couple decides to drive across the South to visit Roy’s family in Louisiana. In the dead of ...Read the full text
THE SCIENCE OF UNVANISHING OBJECTS by Chloe N. Clark Finishing Line Press (forthcoming 2018) reviewed by Brandon Stanwyck
Completely mundane happenings take on significant meaning in Chloe N. Clark’s The Science of Unvanishing Objects.
Everyday things like butterflies, telephones, and mirrors assume a role beyond their normal functions. Likewise, ordinary events such as conversations between strangers and seeing a lover naked for the first time become catalysts for a deeper understanding of the universe. Through her explorations, Clark repeatedly returns to loss, a major motif in this collection, which is amplified by recurring narratives centered on missing women. The Science of Unvanishing Objects
opens with a poem about a girl who has disappeared. Each line completes the title “Missing Girl Found—” as a newspaper article might break the news to its engrossed readership. In the first outcome, the girl in question is found simply “dead.” In another, she is found “to be the last goddamn straw to a woman who moves away because the town is turning, changing, becoming some place unrecognizable.” And in one more, the missing girl is found “to be missed.” These outcomes are visually presented on the page in a shape that resembles a deep well, ...Read the full text
GODS ON THE LAM by Christopher David Rosales Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 302 pages reviewed by Brandon Stanwyck
Christopher David Rosales, on the dedication page, describes Gods on the Lam
as “an homage to Roger Zelazny, without whose books I may never have been inspired to write.” Zelazny’s influence is evident. Famous for his direct execution and his penchant for genre-mixing, the lifeblood of the late speculative fiction author rushes through the twisty veins of this strange novel—Rosales’ second. Gods on the Lam
opens with a man named Wayne waking up alongside an Arizona highway in a ’70 Chevy that he’s “somewhat sure” belongs to him. He’s only halfway confident that the truck is his because he has no memory. To get a sense of what’s going on Wayne drives to the nearby town of Show Low, where he encounters Ruby, a mother on a decade-long search for her missing son. Believing that the answers to their questions may be linked, Wayne and Ruby team up and stumble upon a string of bizarre (possibly alien) abductions that have been afflicting the area, disappearances that have come to be known locally as the Burials. As the cover art perfectly suggests, Gods ...
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PLAINSPEAK, WY by Joanna Doxey Platypus Press, 80 pages reviewed by Brandon Stanwyck
Glaciers, a recurring and defining symbol in Joanna Doxey’s Plainspeak, WY
, are unique natural marvels. Unlike other phenomena commonly found in nature, such as mountains or canyons, glaciers travel. Propelled in large part by their own titanic mass, these mobile accumulations of ice and snow slide—albeit very gradually—across great distances. Over long periods of time, they strip the land beneath them of loose soil and rock fragments, then carry these bits of terrain with them, as added weight, to faraway lands. When glaciers finally cross into the warmer climes of lower latitudes, they steadily erode and melt, thrusting polar water and geologic debris upon a new home. The glaciers that once graced the American northwest, for example, have vanished and are now a cold memory, but as Doxey says, the “land is a memory of wind without wind,” for although they are gone, those arctic leviathans undoubtedly have left their baggage behind. In order to incarnate the scars she shares with Wyoming, Doxey lends her voice to the topography of the title state—formed by the long-absent glaciers that sculpted the land—so as to parallel mindset ...Read the full text