Radio Iris is the story of Iris Finch, a socially awkward daydreamer with a job as the receptionist/personal assistant to an eccentric and increasingly absent businessman. When Iris is not sitting behind her desk waiting for the phone to ring, she makes occasional stabs at connection with the earth and the people around her through careful observation and insomniac daydreams, always more watcher than participant as she shuttles between her one-bedroom apartment and the office she inhabits so completely, yet has never quite understood.
Her world cracks open with the discovery of “the man next door.” Over the next few weeks or months (the passage of time is iffy for Iris), she takes it upon herself to learn everything she can about this stranger. But the closer she gets to him, the more troubling questions at the heart of her own life rise to the surface, questions like – Why does she keep having the same dream? Why is it that she and her brother don’t seem to have a single shared memory of their childhood? What is it her boss actually does? In the end, Iris is faced with a choice she never imagined, and a reality she never knew enough to dread.
How To Get Into the Twin Palms is the story of Anya, a young woman living in a Russian neighborhood in Los Angeles, who struggles between retaining her parents’ Polish culture and trying to assimilate into her adopted community. She lusts after Lev, a Russian man who frequents the Twin Palms nightclub down the block from Anya’s apartment. It is Anya’s wish to gain entrance to this seeminly exclusive club. How To Get Into the Twin Palms is a really funny and often moving book that provides a unique twist on the immigrant story, and provides a credible portrait of the city of Los Angeles, literally burning to the ground.
“It was a strange choice to decide to pass as a Russian. But it was a question of proximity and level of allure. Russians were everywhere in Los Angeles, especially in my neighborhood and held a certain sense of mystery. I had long attempted to inhabit my Polish skin and was happy to finally crawl out of it. I would never tell my mother. She only thought of them as crooks and beneath us. They felt the same about us, we were beneath them. It had always been a question of who was under whom.”
Anne-Marie Kinney is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California Institute of the Arts, and a former Associate Editor of the literary journal, Black Clock. She was awarded first prize in USC’s Edward W. Moses Creative Writing Competition for the story Two Mornings. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Black Clock, Keyhole and Satellite Fiction. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband.
Karolina Waclawiak received her MFA in fiction from Columbia University. She is the Deputy Editor of The Believer and lives and writes in Brooklyn.