John Freeman

John Freeman joins Oscar Villalon in conversation to celebrate Freeman’s new literary venture, Freeman’s: The Best New Writing on Arrival, from Grove Press.freeman's

A new anthology from renowned literary critic, former Granta editor, and NBCC president John Freeman, Freeman’s: Arrival features never before published stories by Haruki Murakami, Louise Erdrich, Dave Eggers, Etgar Keret, Lydia Davis, David Mitchell, and others.

We live today in constant motion, traveling distances rapidly, small ones daily, arriving in new states. In this inaugural edition of Freeman’s, a new biannual of unpublished writing, former Granta editor and NBCC president John Freeman brings together the best new fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about that electrifying moment when we arrive.

Strange encounters abound. David Mitchell meets a ghost in Hiroshima Prefecture; Lydia Davis recounts her travels in the exotic territory of the Norwegian language; and in a Dave Eggers story, an elderly gentleman cannot remember why he brought a fork to a wedding.

End points often turn out to be new beginnings. Louise Erdrich visits a Native American cemetery that celebrates the next journey, and in a Haruki Murakami story, an aging actor arrives back in his true self after performing a role, discovering he has changed, becoming a new person.

Featuring startling new fiction by Laura van den Berg, Helen Simpson, and Tahmima Anam, as well as stirring essays by Aleksandar Hemon, Barry Lopez, and Garnette Cadogan, who relearned how to walk while being black upon arriving in NYC, Freeman’s announces the arrival of an essential map to the best new writing in the world.

Oscar Villalon is the Managing Editor of ZYZZYVA. He is is the former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. His reviews have appeared on NPR.org and KQED’s “The California Report.”

Paul Beatty

Joined by Oscar Villalon, Paul Beatty celebrates the release of his novel, The Sellout.

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant.

Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians: “I’d die in the same bedroom I’d grown up in, looking up at the cracks in the stucco ceiling that’ve been there since ’68 quake.” Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-thru funeral.

Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

Paul Beatty is the author of three novels—Slumberland, Tuff, and The White Boy Shuffle—and two books of poetry: Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.

Oscar Villalon is the Managing Editor of Zyzzyva Magazine and former Book Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Advanced praise for The Sellout:

The Sellout is brilliant. Amazing. Like demented angels wrote it.” —Sarah Silverman

“I am glad that I read this insane book alone, with no one watching, because I fell apart with envy, hysterics, and flat-out awe. Is there a more fiercely brilliant and scathingly hilarious American novelist than Paul Beatty?” —Ben Marcus

“Paul Beatty has always been one of smartest, funniest, gutsiest writers in America, but The Sellout sets a new standard. It’s a spectacular explosion of comic daring, cultural provocation, brilliant, hilarious prose, and genuine heart.” —Sam Lipsyte

“Beatty, author of the deservedly highly praised The White Boy Shuffle (1996), here outdoes himself and possibly everybody else in a send-up of race, popular culture, and politics in today’s America . . . Beatty hits on all cylinders in a darkly funny, dead-on-target, elegantly written satire . . . [The Sellout] is frequently laugh-out-loud funny and, in the way of the great ones, profoundly thought provoking. A major contribution.” —Mark Levin, Booklist (starred review)

ZYZZYVA Presents: Tess Taylor and D.A. Powell

In an evening graciously hosted by ZYZZYVA, who recently published their 100th issue, Tess Taylor and D. A. Powell sat with a small group in the poetry room of City Lights to read some of their own poems. Taylor read excerpts from her latest collection, The Forage House, published last year by Red Hen Press, while Powell read a mixture of some of his favorite past poems.

The Forage House is at once a sensuous reckoning with an ambiguous family history and a haunting meditation on national legacy. In it, the speaker unravels a rich and troubling history. Some of her ancestors were the Randolph Jeffersons, one of Virginia’s most prominent slaveholding families. Some were New England missionaries. Some were dirt-poor Appalachians. And one was the brilliant, controversial Thomas Jefferson. Shuttling between legend and story, history and family tale, these poems visit cluttered attics, torn wills, and marked and unmarked graves. Many of the poems were written while Tess was in residence at Monticello, in dialog with and working alongside historians and archaeologists there. Based in years of research and travel, these poems form a kind of lyric journalism, collaged from tantalizing fragments. The Forage House explores how we make stories, and how stories—even painful ones—make us.

Tess Taylor has received writing fellowships from Amherst College, The American Antiquarian Society, The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, The International Center for Jefferson Studies, The Headlands Center for the Arts, and The MacDowell Colony. Her chapbook, The Misremembered World, was selected by Eavan Boland and published by the Poetry Society of America, and her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Atlantic, Boston Review, Harvard Review, Literary Imagination, The Times Literary Supplement, and The New Yorker. Her essay, “The Waste Land App” published in The Threepenny Review, won a 2013 Pushcart Prize. She currently reviews poetry for NPR’s All Things Considered and teaches writing at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in El Cerrito, California. Her book of poems, The Forage House, is published by Red Hen Press.

D. A. Powell is the author of five collections, including Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys which received the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. His honors include the Kingsley Tufts Prize in Poetry and an Arts & Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Critic Stephen Burt, writing in the New York Times, said of D. A. Powell: “No accessible poet of his generation is half as original, and no poet as original is this accessible.”  A former Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Poetry at Harvard University, Powell has taught at The University of San Francisco, Columbia University, The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Davidson College. He lives in San Francisco. Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys is Powell’s fifth collection of poems.

Oscar Villalon is the former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. His reviews appear on NPR.org and KQED’s “The California Report.” He is the Managing Editor of ZYZZYVA.

ZYZZYVA publishes the best prose, poetry, and visual art produced by West Coast writers and artists—along with the occasional piece from east of California. Since 1985, they’ve published such writers as Sherman Alexie, Raymond Carver, Aimee Bender, Po Bronson, F.X. Toole, Haruki Murakami, Richard Rodriguez, and Daniel Handler; poets such as Kay Ryan, Adrienne Rich, Matthew Zapruder, Czeslaw Milosz, W.S. Di Piero, and Francisco X. Alarcon, and have featured work from such artists as Ed Ruscha, Sandow Birk, Laurie Anderson, Richard Diebenkorn, and Wayne Thiebaud. Visit: www.zyzzyva.org

Nick Turse and Oscar Villalon Discussing the Vietnam War

On January 27th, 2014, Nick Turse and Oscar Villalon discussed Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam (Picador Books) at City Lights Bookstore!

Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by “a few bad apples.” But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of orders to “kill anything that moves.”

Drawing on more than a decade of research in secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time how official policies resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded. In shocking detail, he lays out the workings of a military machine that made crimes in almost every major American combat unit all but inevitable. Kill Anything That Moves takes us from archives filled with Washington’s long-suppressed war crime investigations to the rural Vietnamese hamlets that bore the brunt of the war; from boot camps where young American soldiers learned to hate all Vietnamese to bloodthirsty campaigns like Operation Speedy Express, in which a general obsessed with body counts led soldiers to commit what one participant called “a My Lai a month.”

Thousands of Vietnam books later, Kill Anything That Moves, devastating and definitive, finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts Americans to this day.

Nick Turse is an award-winning journalist, historian, essayist, the managing editor of TomDispatch.com, the co-founder of Dispatch Books, and a fellow at the Nation Institute. He is the author of numerous books including The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Spies, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyber Warfare (Dispatch Books/Haymarket Books, 2012) and The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives (Metropolitan Books, 2008). He is also the editor of The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso, 2010). Turse has written for The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, Adbusters, GOOD magazine, Le Monde Diplomatique, In These Times, Mother Jones and The Village Voice, among other print and on-line publications.  His articles have also appeared in such newspapers as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune, The Contra-Costa Times, The Fort Worth Star Telegram, The Hartford Courant, The Indianapolis Star, The Knoxville News Sentinel, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Tampa Tribune, among others. He was the recipient of a Ridenhour Prize at the National Press Club in April 2009 for his years-long investigation of mass civilian slaughter by U.S. troops in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta during Operation Speedy Express.  In his article for The Nation, “A My Lai a Month,” he also exposed a Pentagon-level cover-up of these crimes that was abetted by a major news magazine.  In 2009, he also received a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism from Hunter College and a MOLLY National Journalism Prize honorable mention for the same article.

Oscar Villallon is the Managing Editor of Zyzzyva Journal and is the former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle Literary Section.

What has been said about Kill Anything That Moves

“A tour de force of reporting and research: the first time comprehensive portrait, written with dignity and skill, of what American forces actually were doing in Vietnam. The findings, hidden behind a screen of official lies and cover-ups all these years, are shocking almost beyond words.… Some thirty thousand books have been written about the Vietnam War. Many more will now be needed, and they must begin with Kill Anything That Moves.”
—Jonathan Schell, author of The Real War: The Classic Reporting on the Vietnam War

“This deeply disturbing book provides the fullest documentation yet of the brutality and ugliness that marked America’s war in Vietnam. No doubt some will charge Nick Turse with exaggeration or overstatement. Yet the evidence he has assembled is irrefutable. With the publication of Kill Anything That Moves, the claim that My Lai was a one-off event becomes utterly unsustainable.”
—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America’s Path To Permanent War

“This book is an overdue and powerfully detailed account of widespread war crimes—homicide and torture and mutilation and rape—committed by American soldiers over the course of our military engagement in Vietnam. Nick Turse’s research and reportage is based in part on the U.S. military’s own records, reports, and transcripts, many of them long hidden from public scrutiny. Kill Anything That Moves is not only a compendium of pervasive and illegal and sickening savagery toward Vietnamese civilians, but it is also a record of repetitive deceit and cover-ups on the part of high ranking officers and officials. In the end, I hope, Turse’s book will become a hard-to-avoid, hard-to-dismiss corrective to the very common belief that war crimes and tolerance for war crimes were mere anomalies during our country’s military involvement in Vietnam.”
—Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried

“American patriots will appreciate Nick Turse’s meticulously documented book, which for the first time reveals the real war in Vietnam and explains why it has taken so long to learn the whole truth.”
—James Bradley, coauthor of Flags of Our Fathers

“Nick Turse reminds us again, in this painful and important book, why war should always be a last resort, and especially wars that have little to do with American national security. We failed, as Turse makes clear, to deal after the Vietnam War with the murders that took place, and today—four decades later—the lessons have yet to be learned. We still prefer kicking down doors to talking.”
—Seymour Hersh, staff writer, The New Yorker

“No book I have read in decades has so shaken me, as an American. Turse lays open the ground-level reality of a war that was far more atrocious than Americans at home have ever been allowed to know. He exposes official policies that encouraged ordinary American soldiers and airmen to inflict almost unimaginable horror and suffering on ordinary Vietnamese, followed by official cover-ups as tenacious as Turse’s own decade of investigative effort against them. Kill Anything That Moves is obligatory reading for Americans, because its implications for the likely scale of atrocities and civilian casualties inflicted and covered up in our latest wars are inescapable and staggering.”
—Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

“Meticulously researched, Kill Anything That Moves is the most comprehensive account to date of the war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Vietnam and the efforts made at the highest levels of the military to cover them up. It’s an important piece of history.”
—Frances FitzGerald, author of Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam

“Nick Turse has done more than anyone to demonstrate—and document—what should finally be incontrovertible: American atrocities in Vietnam were not infrequent and inadvertent, but the commonplace and inevitable result of official U.S. military policy. And he does it with a narrative that is gripping and deeply humane.”
—Christian Appy, author of Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides

“In this deeply researched and provocative book Nick Turse returns us to Vietnam to raise anew the classic dilemmas of warfare and civil society. My Lai was not the full story of atrocities in Vietnam, and honestly facing the moral questions inherent in a ‘way of war’ is absolutely necessary to an effective military strategy. Turse documents a shortfall in accountability during the Vietnam War that should be disturbing to every reader.”
—John Prados, author of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945–1975

“Nick Turse’s Kill Anything That Moves is essential reading, a powerful and moving account of the dark heart of the Vietnam War: the systematic killing of civilians, not as aberration but as standard operating procedure. Until this history is acknowledged it will be repeated, one way or another, in the wars the U.S. continues to fight.”
—Marilyn Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990

ZYZZYVA Poetry All-tars: Dean Rader, Robin Ekiss, and Matthew Dickman Read at City Lights Bookstore

hosted by Laura Cogan & Oscar Villalon

Since 1985, ZYZZYVA has published the work of the best West Coast writers, artists and poets. Tonight, they put the spotlight on poetry, featuring readings from recent contributors Dean Rader, Robin Ekiss, and Matthew Dickman.

Matthew Dickman’s most recent poetry collection is Mayakovsky’s Revolver (Norton). His first full-length collection, All-American Poem, won the May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he is the coauthor with Michael Dickman of 50 American Plays. He is also an Associate Editor for Tin House.

 

Robin Ekiss’s poems and prose have  in The Atlantic Monthly, APR, POETRY, TriQuarterly, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Black Warrior Review, VQR, and elsewhere. Her first book of poems, The Mansion of Happiness, was published by the University of Georgia Press VQR Poetry Series. It won the 2010 Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, and was a finalist for the Balcones Poetry Prize, the Northern California Book Award, and  the Commonwealth Club’s California Book Award.

Dean Rader’s debut collection of poems, Works & Days, won the 2010 T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. His poem “Self Portrait as Dido to Aeneas” was selected by Mark Doty for Best American Poetry, 2012. He’s the department chair of English at the University of San Francisco, and his work has appeared in Boston Review, Triquarterly, and New American Writing, among other publications.

Laura Cogan is the Editor of ZYZZYVZ

Oscar Villalon is the former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and a board member of the National Book Critics Circle. His reviews appear on NPR.org and KQED’s “The California Report.” He is the Managing Editor of ZYZZYVA.

ZYZZYVA publishes the best prose, poetry, and visual art produced by West Coast writers and artists—along with the occasional piece from east of California. Since 1985, they’ve published such writers as Sherman Alexie, Raymond Carver, Aimee Bender, Po Bronson, F.X. Toole, Haruki Murakami, Richard Rodriguez, and Daniel Handler; poets such as Kay Ryan, Adrienne Rich, Matthew Zapruder, Czeslaw Milosz, W.S. Di Piero, and Francisco X. Alarcon, and have featured work from such artists as Ed Ruscha, Sandow Birk, Laurie Anderson, Richard Diebenkorn, and Wayne Thiebaud.

visit: www.zyzzyva.org

ZYZZYVA Fall Release Celebration

The ZYZZYVA fall release celebration was held September 30th, 2012 at City Lights.

hosted by Oscar Villalon, Laura Cogan

with readings by Judy Halebsky, Jesse Nathan, Joel Streicker

“The one journal I read cover to cover as soon as it arrives—ZYZZYVA is that smart, that brilliantly curated”—Junot Diaz

In its Fall issue, the venerated San Francisco literary journal expands on its mission of publishing work from the West Coast’s best writers and artists and translators. An “Expats” section features poetry and nonfiction from Luis Alberto Urrea, Edie Meidav, Dagoberto Gilb and John Freeman—all writers who can claim roots on this side of the country. And the stunning photographs of rising international talent (and Bay Area resident) Lucas Foglia are featured.

For its Fall release celebration at City Lights, ZYZZYVA will present readings from contributors Jesse Nathan, Joel Streicker, and Judy Halebsky. Pick up a copy, have some wine, and enjoy some wonderful writing. Hosted by ZYZZYVA Editor Laura Cogan and Managing Editor Oscar Villalon.

Judy Halebsky’s book of poetry “Sky=Empty” won the New Issues Poetry Prize and was a finalist for a California Book Award. Her most recent volume is the chapbook “Space/Gap/Interval/Distance” (Sixteen Rivers Press).

Jesse Nathan is an editor at McSweeney’s and is a doctoral student in English literature at Stanford.

Joel Streicker received a 2011 PEN American Center Translation Fund Grant to translate Samanta Schweblin’s story collection Pájaros en la boca. His translation of acclaimed Colombian writer Tomas Gonzalez’s story “Victor Comes Back” appears in ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue.

visit: http://www.zyzzyva.org/